Sunday, 26 September 2021

Hooray - More Time...

Aaah, these posts are getting later and later.  It is now Sunday afternoon of the 26th September, and I'm now finishing this weeks post.  Last Saturday, I deliberately stayed at home to do a few chores, which also meant I had little in the way of material for this week's post, which was supposed to be published earlier in the week, but between one thing and another, I have been held back.  After replying to several emails last night, I was going to sit down and finish the post then, but on taking a headache, I could not face looking at the laptop.
During the week, good news arrived with me in the form of an email from Pete Potts.  Although the Black-tailed Godwits that I had recorded recently, were not ringed by Pete, the colour-rings used are registered to him.  Pete granted me access to a private online database concerning the Godwits, and this presented me with all the info I needed, which included the birds metal numbers, so as I could submit my sightings to the BTO.
Altogether, I recorded 6 Godwits from a new Northern Ireland project, and possibly a 7th bird which stood on one leg.  All the birds came from a catch of 24 birds in total, and were colour-ringed on the 21st April 2021, at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve, situated on the Belfast Harbour Estate.  My sightings at Whitehouse Lagoon on the 29th August, and on the Dargan mudflats on the 5th September, are fairly close to the reserve.  Pete has given me permission to add any further sightings directly onto this 'live' online database, and for this, I thank him very much.  As any other re-sighting data belongs to the ringers themselves, I have agreed not to publish any of those details.  I will still submit my future sightings by email, as these will contain photos to back up my sightings.  Any of the photos can be used by the ringers when publishing any reports, so this should suit everyone concerned.
Also during the week, I had my interview at work, as I wanted to drop down from a five day working week, to a four day working week.  My request was unusual, as I would still be working a five day week from Monday to Friday, but wanted to finish an hour and a half early each night.  As one of my co-workers put it, it was a win-win situation, whereby the factory would have me on all five nights, and I could get away early once things start to wind down late on at night.  My new hours would be from 7pm until 1.30am, instead of 3am.  Although, HR has not contacted me as yet, on Friday evening, I read a factory email sent to my OTL, saying my application was approved.  This will present me with a bit more time, to do all my 'birdie' stuff - happy days!!


      Antrim Marina - Sunday 19th September 2021       
A Scottish contact of mine was in Northern Ireland for a couple of day's along with his wife.  Just to be known by his initials 'GB', he had a few spare hours, so I changed my now normal Monday visit, to today, so we could meet up for the first time.  Back in February, GB spotted one of Antrim Marina's resident Black-headed Gulls -   2CJT , at Lochwinnock in Scotland, and was hoping to see the bird on it's home ground.  I recorded -   2CJT  at 9:21, not long before GB arrived to meet me, and he was thrilled to see the gull at close quarters.  Why this resident gull ended up in Scotland may never be known, but I reckon it got dragged along with continental birds heading back over to mainland Europe.

On my visit today, I was on the lookout for 30 colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls altogether that have been recorded here so far this autumn/winter season, with three of those having been caught and ringed here recently.  By the time I departed shortly after 1pm, 26 of the 30 had been re-sighted.  Of the three new birds to be ringed, juvenile -   2FHF  has not been seen since the day it was ringed.  On my arrival, at least 50 to 60 Black-headed Gulls were present, with numbers quickly increasing to somewhere around the 100 mark.  As the morning passed, more and more people arrived at the Marina, as well as a few paddle-boarders.  Gull numbers dropped off to nearly none at all, though a few birds perched on the roof of the Gateway Centre, while others settled down onto the distant breakwater on the edge of Lough Neagh.  No new returnees were recorded this week, and the gulls were not hungry enough for any to be caught and ringed.

GB enjoyed his visit to this tiny plot where I record the gulls, and helped to search for rings.  We will meet up again in the future, which I hope will be in mid winter, as gull numbers would be at their highest, including all of the returning wintering birds.  GB, thanks for your help, great to meet you.  It reminds me on the time when a Spanish man approached me completely by surprise.  Whilst living at home in Spain, he had read my blog on numerous occasions, and when he came to Northern Ireland on business, he came to meet me at the Marina.

Colour Ringed Black-headed Gulls Recorded at Antrim Marina on Sunday 19th September 2021
 2FFF   2FFX   2CSB   2ABS   2CSR   2ABL   2AAK   2AAN   2ACV 
 2CJT   2FFP   2FDK   2FFA   2ABK   2CSA   2FFJ   2FHH   2CSJ 
 2AAA   2CTC   2AAB   2FDT   2CSX   2FHC   2FFL   2FHJ   

Black-headed Gulls Recorded This Autumn/Winter but Absent Today
 2ABN   2BRA   2FHA   2FHF 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Overall, today's visit to Antrim Marina was quite unusual.  Along with GB at my side helping me to read colour-rings on the Black-headed Gulls, there were plenty of distraction's, especially with folk approaching for a chat.  One person of note was Sandy McWilliams, who was with the Antrim Branch of the RSPB Members Group.  Sandy was one of my two ringing trainers back in the early 80's, and though we have met here before, it was good to see Sandy once again.  I'm sure GB enjoyed being involved with these chats, which no doubt added to the attraction for his visit to the Antrim Marina.

The highlight amongst the other birds to be recorded at the Marina today, was the appearance of a wonderful, sharp looking juvenile Mediterranean Gull, though my photo does the bird, an injustice.  Having landed on the short concrete jetty very close to us, it soon flew off to chase Black-headed Gulls which had managed to grab some bread being fed by other visitors.  I'm fairly sure GB got a good picture of the bird, but as I was zooming in, it flew off.  Over the years, the odd Med Gull has been recorded here at the Marina, but this was a first for me at this site.
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull  -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (19 Sep 2021)
An adult Common Gull was seen on several occasions throughout my visit, and it was likely to be the same bird on each sighting.  Around 9:50, a juvenile Herring Gull, and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull appeared.  The Lesser Black-back is the same bird which I have seen on several occasions of late, and is quite people friendly, unlike most others who would keep their distance.

The Mute Swan family with the six cygnets were present throughout my visit.  With today's distractions I never noted the arrival time of another adult which arrived on it's own.  On a couple of occasions, I had to step in between this one, and one from the family party, otherwise there would have been a fight between them.

Mallard numbers were around the 60 mark on my arrival, but again, due to distractions I paid no further notice on numbers.  I did look for rings on quite a number of ducks, but still nothing for quite some time now.

3 Hooded Crows, 8 Jackdaws and 2 Magpies were seen today, and a party of Long-tailed Tits could be heard on the Crack Willow tree, situated on the inland edge of the Marina.
      Larne Lough - Sunday 19th September 2021       
Having made my weekly visit to Antrim Marina today instead of tomorrow morning, I decided to make use of a receding tide by leaving the Marina at 1pm, travelling down to Glynn, on Larne Lough.  Here, I wanted to have another bash at searching through Common Gulls, to see if I could find any of my colour-ringed birds from Rathlin Island.

A good 150 to 180 Common Gulls were present, but very few juveniles.  Scoping through them from the railway platform at Glynn Station, I eventually spotted one Common Gull standing it's right leg, which had a metal ring.  I repeatedly came back to this bird hoping it would reveal it's left leg, but alas, it eventually flew off.
I was also trying to record my second sighting this autumn/winter, of a colour-ringed Icelandic Oystercatcher, which had returned for the fourth winter running.  Plenty of Oystercatchers were scoped, but no sign of the bird that I was after.
Looking through the rest of the gulls, terns and waders, two colour-ringed Sandwich Terns were found.  One of these had a 'Red Darvic', but I was unable to capture the code on that bird, as the ring was always partly hidden by the seaweed that it stood on.  I was more fortunate with the second bird, as I just about managed to capture -   UPV .  It's hard to describe the distance involved when taking photos from the station, but my camera easily 'eats up' that distance. 
On returning home and checking the cr-birding website for the owner, I duly sent an email to Chris Redfern, who is the ringing co-ordinator for terns rung by members of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.  As always, Chris was very quick in his reply.
  UPV , had been ringed as a chick, on the 14th June 2015, on Coquet Island, just off the coast of Northumbria in NE England.  Over the years since being ringed, it has been recorded back on Coquet Island in 2017 & 2019, as well as the Ythan Estuary, Scotland (July, 2018), Tynemouth, England (August, 2018), and Findhorn, Scotland (August & September 2018).  Today's sighting here at Glynn, is the first Northern Ireland record, with a straight line distance from Coquet Island, being 276 kms / 171 miles (W).  The duration from being ringed, is now 6 years, 3 months and 5 days.  My thanks once again goes to Chris for his speedy reply, along with the ringing history for this bird.
By the time I had finished at Glynn, it was really pointless to go anywhere else, so I headed back home in time to watch the Chelsea match.  
Sandwich Tern  -    UPV   -  Glynn, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim  (19 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 14th June 2015, on Coquet Island, Northumbria, England)
      From GB       
Having visited me at Antrim Marina, GB suggested that he might look for gulls on the coast near Larne before catching the ferry back home to Scotland.  I suggested that he should call by Sandy Bay at Larne, where colour-ringed birds are often found.  The other good reason for Sandy Bay, is that it is just around the corner from the ferry terminal.  Of late, I have tried to record a couple of Northern Ireland rung Black-headed Gulls at Sandy Bay, and in the back of my mind, I was hoping that GB would come across at least one of the two birds.  There should have been a Scottish-rung BHG there as well, which
had remained on site throughout the summer.

GB took my advice and called by Sandy Bay, which he found to be a nice spot, and duly spotted three ringed birds.  One of these was a metal-rung Oystercatcher, but he was unable to read any details on the ring.  I informed GB, that the bird was likely to be the same bird which winters at Sandy Bay every year, though I agree, it is extremely difficult to read the ring.  If the Oystercatcher is that same bird, it was ringed as a chick, on the 14th June 2014, at North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands in the north of Scotland.  I've successfully read the metal on three occasions - December 2015, February 2016 and November 2019.  Now that I know the bird is back again, I must try to confirm this one again, so as to increase it's longevity record.
The other two ringed birds were Sandwich Terns with colour-rings reading -   UVV  & (White) E27, and GB copied me in to emails to Chris Redfern and Iain Livingstone.
Chris as always, was very quick to reply.    UVV  was ringed as a chick, on the 12th June 2014, on Coquet Island in Northumbria, England, and this was the bird's first sighting record here in Northern Ireland.  The offical 'straight line' distance from Coquet to Sandy Bay, is 276 kms / 171 miles (W), but as with all terns, it is highly unlikely that the bird flew over mainland Britain.  The duration as of GB's sighting, was 7 years, 3 months and 7 days.
Previous re-sightings of   UVV , were made in May 2017 - Farne Islands, England, July 2017 - East Chevington, England, August 2017 - Coquet Island, England, August 2018 - Findhorn, Scotland, August 2019 - Blackdog, Scotland, and finally, in August & September 2020 - Findhorn, Scotland.
Sandwich Tern  -    UVV   -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (19 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 12th June 2014, on Coquet Island, Northumbria, England)
(Photo Courtesy of GB)
As yet there has been no reply from Iain Livingstone concerning (White) E27.  Iain responds to birds ringed by the Clyde Ringing Group in Scotland.  This sighting made by GB, is the first example of this ring code that I know of, having been recorded in Northern Ireland.  The tern was possibly ringed, in either Dumfries & Galloway, or in Ayrshire, with both counties facing Northern Ireland across the Irish Sea.
My thanks to GB, for allowing me to add his sightings to the blog, along with the photos.  It appears that GB enjoyed his visit to Northern Ireland, and I was really pleased to meet up with him at Antrim Marina.  No doubt, we will meet again in the future.
Sandwich Tern  -  (White)  E27  -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (19 Sep 2021)
(Waiting for Ringing Details)
(Photo Courtesy of GB)
      From Cameron Moore       
Cameron Moore has been in touch again, with his latest batch of ring sightings, made in his home town of Whitehead situated on the coast of Belfast Lough.

Sandwich Tern -   UNZ , was spotted on the 18th September 2021, and once again Chris Redfern was also the contact for this bird.    UNZ , was ringed as a chick, on the 14th June 2014, on Inner Farne Island just off the coast of Northumbria in England.  Just two previous re-sightings have been made for this bird, both having been recorded at Port Seton in Morayshire, Scotland (August 2017, and August 2018).
This was the bird's first ever sighting in Northern Ireland, and the 'straight line' distance from Inner Farne to Whitehead, was given as - 273 kms / 169 miles (WSW), by the BTO.  The duration since being ringed, is 7 years, 3 months and 4 days.
Sandwich Tern  -    UNZ   -  Whitehead, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (18 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 14th June 2014, on Inner Farne Island, The Farne Islands, Northumbria, England)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)
The second Sandwich Tern spotted by Cameron, turned out to be a bird which he had recorded before at Whitehead, and is a sighting record that I found especially pleasing due to it's age.  The bird was metal-rung only, as an un-sexed adult, on the 19th July 2000, at Seal Sands in Teesmouth, England.  On the 21st August 2011, the bird was 'controlled' (captured), by the Grampian Ringing Group, on the Ythan Estuary in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and was fitted with the colour-ring -   EZD .  At that time, the duration from the original ringing date was 11 years, 1 month and 2 days.

Cameron's first sighting record of -   EZD , was made at Whitehead on the 5th September 2018.  His latest sighting made on the 16th September 2021, takes the duration to 21 years, 1 month and 28 days, and considering it was an adult when ringed, makes this bird a nice 'oldie'.  The 'straight line' distance from Seel Sands to Whitehead, is 291 kms / 180 miles (W), and the distance from the Ythan Estuary to Whitehead, is 367 kms / 228 miles (SW).

Other re-sightings include :- Girdleness, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (August 2011), Scolt Head, Norfolk, England (May 2017, and Ferney Ness, East Lothian, Scotland (August 2020).
Sandwich Tern  -    EZD   -  Whitehead, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (16 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 19th July 2000, at Seel Sands, Teesmouth, Stockton-on-Tees, England)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)
Also spotted on the seafront at Whitehead on the 16th September 2021, was a juvenile Herring Gull, rung -   J27:M .  Having contacted Mark Fitzpatrick who is the ringing co-ordinator on the Isle of Man, he replied to say that the gull was ringed as a chick, on the 26th June 2021, on the Calf of Man.  The duration as of Cameron's sighting, was 2 months and 21 days, and the distance from the Calf to Whitehead being 97 kms / 60 miles (NW).
Juvenile Herring Gull  -    J27:M   -  Whitehead, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (16 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 26th June 2021, on the Calf of Man, Isle of Man)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)
On the 19th September 2021, Cameron re-sighted a Polish-rung Mediterranean Gull -   PPN5 , having first recorded the bird last month (3rd August 2021) - read the blog post (here), concerning that sighting.    PPN5  was ringed as a chick, on the 20th May 2014, with the duration now increasing to 7 years, 3 months and 30 days.
Mediterranean Gull  -    PPN5   -  Whitehead, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (19 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 20th May 2014, at Rybical, Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Poland)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)

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