Saturday, 9 October 2021

Too Many Rings...

Another busy week has passed by, with lots of emails coming and going.  Most have concerned numerous ring sightings, so much so, several are not going to make it onto this weeks post.  I have spent much time during the week processing everything, with sightings being entered onto my spreadsheet as a priority.  All sightings are submitted to the BTO in order that the observers can receive offical recoveries.  Seeing as I submit the sightings, I always get a copy of the recoveries, whereby I can add offical distance's to the spreadsheet, as well as adding the hyper-links for the recoveries.
Good news at work, as the factory has granted my wish to drop to a four day week, instead of five.  My request was unusual, as the way that I wanted to do it, was to still work five evenings, but to finish one and a half hours earlier each night.  By doing this, I'm still present to carry out my duties on all five evenings, but as things begin to quieten down later on, I can then get away.  Having received my new contract, my role has now been put down as a 'Stock Controller', which also see's me getting a pay rise of 30 pence an hour.  My whole idea of dropping a day, was to earn less, as I'm already saving far more money than I spend, and I also would have extra time to work on the 'birdie' stuff. 
It's now Saturday, and normally I should have been out and about today.  The wife is away from home, so I had to remain at home to 'babysit' her two cats.  Of late, there has been a couple of seriously bad fights between the two, who are both males.  On Wednesday afternoon, I had to climb onto the shed roof to separate the two of them, as they had locked onto each other.  We've no idea what is causing this change of habit between the two, though both are normally pretty docile.  Knowing that I would be at home today, meant I was in no rush to get this week's post published.
      Antrim Marina - Monday 4th October 2021       
My latest weekly visit to Antrim Marina, saw a quite dull, but dry day, though once again a strong wind was blowing in from Lough Neagh.  The wind helps to prevent the gulls from resting on the roof of the Gateway Centre, which is of great help when trying to read colour-rings on the Black-headed Gulls.

With the return of -   2ABA  last Monday, my winter list of colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls, had risen to 28, which, along with three others that have been caught and ringed here this winter, meant I was on the lookout for 31 individuals altogether, plus any further returnees.
On my arrival, at least 100 Black-headed Gulls were already present, and numbers remained around that mark throughout today's visit, which lasted from 09:15 until midday.  On today's visit, I was able to get my car through the barrier leading to the slipway, unlike last week, where I had no shelter from the wind.  Being able to take my car in, means I have all my gear around me, which includes two pairs of binoculars for short and longer distance viewing, my telescope, camera and ringing gear, plus having some relief from the elements.
No new returnees were recorded, and 23 out of the 31 colour-rings were read, meaning I had 9 absentees.  Among the absentees, is a normally regular resident to the site -  2BRA , which has not been re-sighted since a month ago.  Also among the absentees, are all three birds that I had caught and ringed on the 6th September 2021.  Juvenile -   2FHF , has not been seen since it was ringed, though juveniles can range fairly widely before settling down somewhere for the winter.  The adult -   2FHH , and another juvenile -   2FHJ , have not been seen since the 16th September - am now wondering if they too have moved on.
Having the Mute Swan cygnets at hand, I attempted to try and catch one or two new birds for ringing.  A few came tantalizingly close, and a short time later, I managed to catch and ring another juvenile which now carries the code -   2FHK .  My method to catch gulls, is to throw bread down on the ground in front of the swans, and as the gulls try to grab some bread, I then grab them. 
A man who happened to be passing by, saw me catching the juvenile and was intrigued by what I was doing.  Having explained about the use of colour-rings to track the gulls movements at Antrim Marina, he was delighted to watch me ringing the bird, an experience he thought he would never see happening.
Colour Ringed Black-headed Gulls Recorded at Antrim Marina on Monday 4th October 2021
 2AAB   2CJT   2FFA   2CSR   2FDK   2CTC   2CSB   2ACV 
 2ABS   2ABK   2CSA   2ABN   2FFL   2AAN   2ABL   2AAK 
 2CSJ   2FHC   2FFX   2FFF   2ABA   2AAA   2FFP   

Black-headed Gulls Recorded This Autumn/Winter but Absent Today
 2BRA   2CSX   2FDT   2FFJ   2FHA   2FHF   2FHH   2FHJ 

Whilst I was at work on Monday evening, I received an email from Graham McElwaine.  During the winter months, Graham, who lives in County Down, would travel up to Toomebridge in County Antrim to conduct counts on the wintering Whooper Swans.  As he would pass through Antrim, he calls by the Marina to walk his dog, plus look for any of my gulls, and this afternoon he recorded 10 colour-ringed gulls.  Looking at the list, one bird struck out to me -   2FFC .  I instantly knew this had to be another returnee.

Once back home, I checked my records, and -   2FFC  was caught and ringed last winter, as an un-sexed adult on the 30th November 2020.  Having re-sighted the bird on three occasions at the Marina during December, my last record for this bird was made on the 4th January 2021, and then the second 'Lockdown' began.  By the time restrictions were eased in early April, most gulls had departed for their breeding sites.
With the return of -   2FFC , I think this bird could well nest somewhere on the European Continent, and hopefully at some time into the future, the bird will be spotted in some other Country.  My thanks to Graham for these 10 sightings, along with several photos.  Having ringed another juvenile today, and the return of -   2FFC , I will be on the lookout for 33 birds during this Monday's visit.
Black-headed Gull  -    2FFC   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (04 Oct 2021)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 30th November 2020, at Antrim Marina)
(Photo Courtesy of Graham McElwaine)
Colour Ringed Black-headed Gulls Recorded by Graham McElwaine on Monday 4th October 2021
 2AAK   2ABK   2CJT   2FFX   2CSB   2CSJ   2CTC   2FFA   2FFC   2FFL 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Two adult Commons Gulls were present when I arrived this morning, and the same two birds came and went throughout the morning.  One had yellow legs, whilst the second bird had pale green legs.  Still no sign of the Scottish metal-rung bird, which has only been recorded once so far this winter, and that was back on the 16th August 2021 - the birds earliest ever return date.  The over friendly Herring Gull was also present throughout my visit today, though was absent last week.

The female Mute Swan, along with her six cygnets, were also present throughout, as were a pair of un-ringed birds.  A count of the Mallards shortly after I arrived, gave a total of 63 birds.  Trying another count later in the morning, was nigh on impossible, but I reckon the total did top the 80 mark.  Again, most legs were checked, but still no rings.
Other species present today included - 10 Jackdaws, a juvenile Hooded Crow, a pair of Magpies, and a male Grey Wagtail.  Long-tailed Tits, could be heard in the Crack Willow tree at the end of the Marina, but I could not get a count of how many there were, due to the leaf cover.
      From Cameron Moore       
On the 1st October, an email arrived from Cameron Moore, concerning a juvenile Black-headed Gull that he spotted on the 20th September 2021, on the seafront at Whitehead.  Saying, better late than never in reporting the sighting, this bird was colour-ringed -   2HHL .  I emailed Ben Dolan, who is the ringing co-ordinator for the West Midlands Ring Group in England, and it did not take long, before a reply was received.

   2HHL , was ringed as a chick, on the 15th June 2021, at the Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, at Meridan in the West Midlands region of England.  Cameron's sighting was a first for this bird, and the distance to Whitehead, is 371 kms / 230 miles (NW).  The duration, since being ringed, was now 3 months and 5 days.

  2HHL , is actually the second juvenile from the colony, ringed on the same date, which has been recorded recently here in Northern Ireland.    2HFH , was spotted by David Stirling on the 1st September 2021, on Kinnegar Beach, situated on the southern shore of Belfast Lough, and that bird has been re-sighted again just recently (see Suzanne Belshaw's sightings below).
Cameron's sighting of -   2HHL , adds to the list of juvenile Black-headed Gulls, having crossed the Irish Sea so far this winter.  My thanks to Cameron, for the sighting, along with the photo.
Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -    2HHL   -  Whitehead, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (20 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 15th June 2021, at Marsh Lane NR, Meridan, West Midlands, England)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)
      From George Gordon       
On the 3rd October 2021, George Gordon emailed me with three Black-headed Gull sightings, which he had made at Luke's Point in Ballyholme, Co. Down.  The first of these, was that of -   2ABT , a gull which I had tried to record recently, at Sandy Bay in Larne, Co. Antrim, just in case it would be present there.  Normally,   2ABT  would only be seen at Sandy Bay during the breeding season months, so it did not surprise me, that I did not record it there of late.

Luke's Point at Ballyholme is actually the gulls preferred wintering site, and was caught and ringed there as an adult male, on the 24th January 2013.  This latest sighting by George, is the 25th sighting report overall, over the years since it was ringed.  During the breeding season,   2ABT  frequents Sandy Bay, and may well nest at the RSPB's Blue Circle Island Reserve, situated a couple of kilometres south.  The Maidens Islands, are situated out to sea from Sandy Bay, but I do not know whether Black-headed Gulls breed there.
I was pleased to hear, that -   2ABT  is still alive and well.  The last sighting, was actually made by George on the 4th January 2021, here at Luke's Point.  The duration since being ringed, is now 8 years, 8 months and 9 days.  George, did not include any photos for his latest sightings, so I've added one of my own, taken at Luke's Point on the 17th October 2017.
Black-headed Gull  -    2ABT   -  Luke's Point, Ballyholme, Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 24th January 2013, at Luke's Point)
George's second Black-headed Gull is a bird I find to be quite interesting.    2CLV , was ringed as a chick, on the 16th June 2017, at the RSPB's Blue Circle Island Reserve, on Larne Lough, Co. Antrim.  The first sighting, was made just over two months after being ringed, when the juvenile was spotted by Cameron Moore at Whitehead - 10 kms / 6 miles (SE).  The gull was not seen again until the 27th February 2019, when recorded here at Luke's Point, by Suzanne Belshaw.
2021, has seen four sighting records of -   2CLV , which includes George's latest sighting.  On the 4th & 7th January 2021, George recorded -   2CLV  at Luke's Point, and then, on the 16th June 2021, Jim Wells, who normally records nesting Peregrine Falcons, rather than reading rings, spotted the gull at Bangor Harbour, which is just a short distance away from Ballyholme.  The Bangor sighting in June, is of interest, seeing as the gull was of breeding age.  Was it nesting locally at an unknown site, or perhaps it had failed in it's breeding attempt somewhere else, and had moved on to Bangor Harbour.
With just six sightings altogether,   2CLV  seems to be fairly elusive.  The distance from Blue Circle Island to Luke's Point, is only 19 kms / 11 miles (SE), so it may be possible, that it is breeding at it's natal colony.  The duration since being ringed, is now 4 years, 3 months and 17 days.  Again, good to know that it is still alive, and I'm hoping for more frequent future sightings.  The photo below, was taken by George, on the 4th January 2021.
Black-headed Gull  -    2CLV   -  Luke's Point, Ballyholme, Co. Down  (04 Jan 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, at the RSPB's Blue Circle Island Reserve, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)
(Photo Courtesy of George Gordon)
The third Black-headed Gull George recorded at Luke's Point on the 3rd October, was the second sighting recently of a Polish-rung bird -   TRX9 .  A new contact for me - John O'Boyle reported his sighting via David Nixon, having spotted -   TRX9 , on the 12th September 2021, also at Luke's Point.
The gull was ringed as a chick, on the 5th June 2019, on the island of Wyspa Ptasia on Lake Rynskie in NE Poland.  The first re-sighting of -   TRX9 , was made on the 4th August 2019, when the then juvenile was spotted at Ringstone Edge Reservoir in West Yorkshire, England.  It did not occur to me, on the first sighting here made by John, but looking at Google Maps, it seems possible that when the gull was spotted in West Yorkshire, it could have been heading to Northern Ireland.  It may well have been wintering at Ballyholme and went un-noticed.  Any future re-sightings will answer the question of whether or not this gull is a winter visitor at Ballyholme.

The distance from Lake Rynskie to Luke's Point, is 1,752 kms / 1,809 miles (W), and the duration since being ringed, is now 2 years, 3 months and 28 days.  My thanks goes to George for these latest sightings, and hopefully, someone will obtain a photo of -   TRX9 .

      Sunday 3rd October 2021       
Having remained at home yesterday to finish off my previous post, today, I headed off to Carrickfergus, which was my proposed finishing site last Sunday, but when the rain began to fall, I had to change my plans.  Instead of covering the coast from Whiteabbey to Carrickfergus, I settled on Kinnegar Beach where I could easily view the birds from the comfort of my car, even if it rained.

Checking on the tide-table, I decided that it would be better to start at Carrickfergus, and then work my way towards Belfast.  One of my main targets around Carrickfergus, was to re-sight a Norwegian-rung Black-headed Gull, and a couple of Adam's former project BHG's at Carrickfergus Harbour.  Over recent weeks, I had made a couple of visits to Carrickfergus Leisure Centre, to look for the Norwegian bird.  My first stop today was at the leisure centre, but there was no sign of this bird.
Last winter, I had recorded the Norwegian bird at Kilroot Power Station, before spotting it at the leisure centre on a later date.  The shore by the power station was to be my next stop.  I had timed my visit perfectly, as the tide was beginning to recede.  I walked along the seawall, and waited quite close to a freshwater outlet, where the gulls would come for a drink and bathe.  Being in position before the birds arrive is perfect, as I do not have to move and whilst sat down, I'm less imposing to the arriving birds.
This worked a treat, as when the gulls, along with very small numbers of Oystercatchers and Redshanks began to arrive, all were in easy reach of my camera.  Scoping through the gulls as more and more appeared, I eventually spotted a distant Green Darvic - was this the Norwegian bird I was after or another one?  Zooming in with my camera, I captured the code -   JZ01 , success, the bird I was looking for!!
  JZ01 , was ringed as an adult male, at Hovindammen in the suburbs of Oslo, on the 29th March 2016, by Morten Helberg & Carsten Lome.  It's first re-sighting occurred in July 2018, when spotted at Scaling Reservoir in Cleveland, England.  I was next to spot this gull, with this first sighting for me personally, having been made on the 5th January 2020 at Carrickfergus Leisure Centre.  This was the only record for the bird here that winter, as on the 30th March 2020, Carsten Lome, recorded the bird in Sweden, on the Tidan River which flows through the southern town of Mariestad.
The gull went un-recorded again, until the 19th September 2020, when I made my first ever visit here to the shore beside Kilroot Power Station.  Previously, I did not know about this site, until a Jeff Higgot, who was here on holiday, spotted a Black-headed Gull ringed -  2BJL , on the 21st December 2019.  This was only the second ever sighting of that particular bird, which I had recorded in my home town of Ballymena, as a juvenile, on the 5th September 2014.  So far -  2BJL , eludes me, as I would love to record it again, but I was well pleased on spotting -   JZ01  again today.
On the 29th November 2020, I then recorded -   JZ01 , at Carrickfergus Leisure Centre, which was the last sighting of this gull until today.  I had checked the 'Live' Norwegian Ringing Database, and could see that no sightings had been submitted during the summer of 2021.
The distance from Oslo to the power station, is 1,147 kms / 712 miles (SW), and the duration since being ringed, is 5 years, 6 months and 4 days.
Black-headed Gull  -    JZ01   -  Kilroot Power Station, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (03 Oct 2021)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 29th March 2016, at Hovindammen, Oslo, Norway)
During the visit on the 19th September 2020, not only did I find -   JZ01 , but I also recorded three other colour-ringed birds - a Herring Gull from the Copeland Islands in Co. Down, an Oystercatcher from Iceland, and a Herring Gull from Scotland.  Today, there was no sign of two of those birds, but I did get the Scottish Herring Gull -   A:H58 .
My sighting of   A:H58  in September 2020, was the first since the gull was ringed as a chick, on the 12th July 2018, on the island of Lady Isle, just off the coast from Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland.  Having contacted Dave Grant about my latest sighting, he replied to say that no other reports other than mine have been received.  My latest sighting takes the duration since being ringed, to 3 years, 2 months and 21 days, whilst the distance from Lady Isle, is 111 kms / 68 miles (SW).
Herring Gull  -    A:H58   -  Kilroot Power Station, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (03 Oct 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 12th July 2018, at Lady Isle, Ayrshire, Scotland)
With no other sightings at Kilroot, I made my way back to my car, and just made it when heavy rain began to fall.  Driving towards Carrickfergus, I was supposed to stop by the harbour, call by Rhanbouy Park, and then proceed to the beach at Whiteabbey.  But, as I reached each destination, the rain kept on falling, so I kept on driving.  My next stop, was now to be Whitehouse Lagoon, where I could scope birds whilst staying dry inside my car.  A toilet stop at Hazelbank Park, was a non event, as the men's toilet block was closed.  Oh why oh why, did I not stop at the toilets at Loughview Park in Jordanstown - perhaps I did not want to get wet.

My visit to Whitehouse Lagoon therefore, was a pretty quick one, but at the same time, the rain was easing away.  Scoping quickly through the Black-headed Gulls close to me, I am still hoping to record the return of a Polish-rung bird, but no luck this time either.  Looking at the more distant larger gulls, I spotted a dark looking Darvic.  Zooming in with my camera, I captured the code -  298:D  on a Herring Gull, and I instantly knew that this gull has been recorded here in Northern Ireland on several occasions.
 298:D , was ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2018, on the roof of the Mater Hospital in the City of Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.  Since being ringed,  298:D , had been recorded on five occasions in Northern Ireland :-
4th April 2019, Dargan Mudflats, Belfast by Suzanne Belshaw
23rd November 2019, here at Whitehouse Lagoon, myself
13th July 2020, Cloughey Bay, Co. Down by Nigel Ireland
13th July 2020, Millquarter Bay, Co. Down by Graham McElwaine (quite close to Cloughey Bay)
9th September 2020, Tyrella Beach, Co. Down by Suzanne Belshaw
Today's sighting is the latest in the series.  I have emailed Graham Prole, who is the ringing co-ordinator for the Irish Midlands Ringing Group, but unlike Graham, there has been no reply.  Past experience, has told me that he is usually on holiday when there is a lapse in replies, so I'll have to wait to see if there has been further sightings since September 2020.
The distance from Dublin City, to Whitehouse Lagoon, is 145 kms / 90 miles (N), and the duration since being ringed, is 3 years, 3 months and 11 days.
Herring Gull  -    298:D   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim  (03 Oct 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2018, at the Mater Hospital (roof), City of Dublin)
By now, I was busting 'to go', so I went as fast as possible to Kinnegar Beach, where the bushes beside the sewage works, is an ideal 'watering spot'.  I could now smile again, and drove over to the car park overlooking the beach.  By now, the tide was in the distance, but on scoping the birds, which were also now distant specks, I thought I could see a colour-ringed Common Gull.  Zooming in with my camera, I could see that I was indeed right, as the bird bore a Blue Darvic.  Although my camera easily reaches further than my telescope, the gull was still too distant.
I made my way out onto the beach, to cut the distance by half, and then successfully captured the code -   2ACJ .  On site, I was not sure whether I had recorded this one before, or even if it was either one of my Rathlin Island study birds, or one from Shane Wolsey's former Copeland Island project.  When I began my Rathlin study, I had used the remaining   2A**  series, before commencing with the   2B**  series.  On Big Copeland Island, Shane had used Yellow Darvic's, as well as the Blue   2A**  &   2H**  series.

On returning home and checking my spreadsheet, this gull had history.   2ACJ , was ringed on Big Copeland Island, as a breeding adult, on the 14th May 2010, which means the duration as of today, is now 11 years, 4 months and 18 days.  The previous re-sightings are :-

22nd December 2016, here on Kinnegar Beach by myself (first ever re-sighting)
14th July 2017, Donaghadee Seafront, Co. Down by myself
30th July 2017, Donaghadee Seafront by myself
18th November 2018, Kinnegar Beach by myself
22nd April 2019, Donaghadee Seafront by Suzanne Belshaw
12th October 2019, Kinnegar Beach by myself
18th April 2021, Millisle Seafront, Co. Down by myself
I was well pleased to add another sighting to the list, and Kinnegar Beach, is situated 22 kms / 13 miles to the east of Big Copeland Island.
Common Gull  -    2ACJ   -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (03 Oct 2021)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Breeding Adult, on the 14th May 2010, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)
Now sitting in the middle of the beach at Kinnegar, I had plenty of gulls and waders to scope through, though I was disappointed not to record any more rings.  I paid a lot of attention to the Oystercatchers, but there are still no sign of any of the Icelandic colour-ringed birds which I have recorded here in the past.
Time was now getting on, so I drove the short distance to reach the Connswater mudflats, before walking around to Victoria Park to finish off the day.  On these mudflats last winter, I recorded Norwegian, Dutch and Polish Black-headed Gulls, as well as two birds from Adam's former Northern Ireland Study.  I also caught a quick glimpse of a Black Darvic, which I reckoned belonged to a German BHG which I had recorded during the winter before last, but the 'Covid Lockdown' in early January, meant I had no chance to confirm that bird.  Three Scottish-rung Oystercatchers had also been recorded on the mudflats last winter.
On today's visit, very few waders were present, but there was a nice group of 60 to 70 Black-headed Gulls resting in the middle of the flats.  Just the one colour-ring was spotted, which was -   2AJV , a bird from Adam's former project.    2AJV , was ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre in County Down.  The distance to the Connswater mudflats, is 16 kms / 9 miles (NW), and the duration since being ringed, is now 7 years, 3 months and 14 days.
Today's is the 11th sighting record overall for this bird over the years, with most having been made either here on the Connswater mudflats, or at the nearby Victoria Park, during the autumn/winter months.  There are two records of the bird away from these sites.  The first, was made on the 30th October 2014, which was a first re-sighting made by Scott O'Hara, when the then juvenile was spotted in the car park at the nearby Connswater Shopping Centre.  The second, was a breeding season sighting made by me on the 25th May 2019, when I recorded -   2AJV , back at it's natal colony at Castle Espie.

A quick dander round to Victoria Park, revealed no more rings, so I decided to call it a day.
Black-headed Gull  -    2AJV   -  Connswater Mudflats, Belfast Harbour Industrial Estate  (03 Oct 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down)
      From Suzanne Belshaw       
An email from Suzanne Belshaw, contained a list of colour-ring sightings, that she has made over the past number of weeks.  These included gulls, Greylag Geese and a Mute Swan, but for now, I will only report on the three gull sightings.

First, is a metal-rung juvenile Herring Gull -   GY32569 .  Suzanne managed to capture the full number via several photos, and this bird was spotted at the former Belfast Waterworks, at Cliftonville in Belfast, on the 10th September 2021.  On submitting Suzanne's sighting via my DemOn account, I could see that the ringer has not submitted the ringing details for this gull as yet.

This is the second metal-rung juvenile Herring Gull, that Suzanne has recorded this winter.  On the 29th August 2021, Suzanne spotted -   GY32604 , at Lisburn in County Antrim.  That bird's ringing details could not be found on DemOn either, so Suzanne is now waiting on the details for both birds.  At present, we suspect that both gulls were ringed by the Copeland Bird Observatory, situated on Lighthouse Island, Co. Down.
Juvenile Herring Gull  -    GY32569   -  Former Belfast Waterworks, Cliftonville, Belfast  (10 Sep 2021)
(Waiting for the Ringing Details)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)
Another colour-ringed juvenile, this time, a Black-headed Gull -   2HFH , was easily sorted.  Suzanne spotted the bird on a lamppost at the McDonalds Fast Food Outlet, at Knocknagoney, on the outskirts of Belfast.  The gull had previously been spotted on Kinnegar Beach, on the 1st September 2021, by David Stirling.  Knocknagoney, is not that far away from Kinnegar, but to find the juvenile at a McDonalds outlet, once again highlights their ability to find an easy food source.

  2HFH , was ringed as a chick, on the 15th June 2021, at the Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, at Meridan in the West Midlands area in England.  The distance to Knocknagoney, is 369 kms / 229 miles (NW), and the duration since being ringed, is now 3 months and 14 days.  A second juvenile from Marsh Lane, was also spotted by Cameron Moore at Whitehead (read above article).
Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -    2HFH   -  McDonalds Outlet, Knocknagoney, Belfast, Co. Down  (29 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 15th June 2021, at Marsh Lane NR, Meriden, West Midlands, England)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)
On the 30th September, Suzanne spotted a colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gull on Tyrella beach in County Down.  As can be seen in her photo, she just managed to capture the code -   T5ZX .  The bird was ringed as a chick, on the 3rd July 2014, at The Point of Ayre, on the northern coast of the Isle of Man.  Suzanne's sighting, is the second for the gull, which was confirmed by Mark Fitzpatrick, who is the ringing co-ordinator for the Isle of Man.

The first sighting occurred on the 24th August 2020, when the gull landed on a boat belonging to Brian Chambers.  At that time, the boat was three miles out to sea, east of Annalong in County Down.  I copied Brian into my reply to Suzanne, and he was delighted on receiving the update.  The distance from The Point of Ayre to Tyrella Beach, is 91 kms / 56 miles (W), and the duration from being ringed, is 7 years, 2 months and 27 days.
My thanks goes to Suzanne once again, for submitting her sightings, along with the photos.  When I get the chance, I will deal with her Greylag Geese and Mute Swan reports.
Great Black-backed Gull  -    T5ZX   -  Tyrella Beach, Co. Down  (30 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 3rd July 2014, at The Point of Ayre, Isle of Man)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)
      From John Clarke       
My ringing trainer John Clarke, has been in touch regarding an Oystercatcher that he spotted on the Myroe Levels beside Lough Foyle in County Londonderry.  OW-W(TA), was recorded on the 23rd September 2021, and John reported his sighting to Boddi in Iceland.  Having received the reply, which included a PDF File for the bird's history, John could see that I had recorded this bird last winter on the Myroe Levels (19th December 2020).

OW-W(TA), was ringed as an un-sexed breeding adult, on the 1st June 2018, at Kirkjubólsvöllur Golf Course in south-west Iceland.  The distance to the Myroe Levels, is 1,326 kms / 823 miles (SE), and the duration since being ringed, is now 3 years, 3 months and 22 days.
There was no photo to go along with John's sighting, so I've included the one I took last winter.  My thanks goes to John for informing me on the return of this bird.  The PDF File can be read (here), but any sightings during the past summer, might be added in the coming weeks.  Boddi, adds summer sightings post season, once all of the re-sighting info has been submitted to him. 
Oystercatcher  -  OW-W(TA)  -  Myroe Levels, Lough Foyle, Co. Londonderry  (19 Dec 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Breeding Adult, on the 1st June 2018, at Kirkjubólsvöllur Golf Course, SW Iceland)
Whilst at the Myroe Levels, John also spotted three Oystercatchers bearing colour-flags.  However, he decided not to bother recording these, as the BTO could not supply any information for a similar colour-flagged Oystercatcher which he spotted on the Bann Estuary in County Londonderry, on the 6th August 2021.
As John is my ringing trainer, I have access to his DemOn account, as any birds that I ring have to be submitted through his account, because the metal-rings I use are registered to him.  I took a look at his Oystercatcher submission on his DemOn account today (Friday 8th October), and noticed that the colour-marks are incorrectly entered, and this was likely to be the cause for the BTO not being able to find the project owner.
John entered the flag details as - White (EVT).  In the first instance, colour-ring marks are never entered by the full name of the base colour, but a capital letter is used instead.  In this case - White would be entered as W.  White on it's own, suggests that the ring is an ordinary Darvic.  The correct way of writing a flag ring on DemOn, as in the case of John's bird - is WFN(EVT), meaning a White Flag Niger (Niger, being the colour of the characters), which is then followed by the actual characters in brackets.
I have sent an email to John, to point this out, and he should correct his entry.  I know who the bird belongs to, but past experience tells me that we could still have problems obtaining the ringing information.  Just like John, I have stopped recording this type of flagged Oystercatcher, though my reasons for doing so, is the result of a different set of circumstances.   

      From Graham McElwaine       
Whilst at work last Friday night, I received an email from Graham McElwaine.  The email started of with the word - 'Diversifying!!'.  Graham reads a large number of colour-rings on big gulls, using his Questar telescope, which actually produces a back to front image.  Earlier that day, whilst at Castlewellan Country Park in County Down, Graham managed to read the metal-ring on a Black-headed Gull -   EA53451 .

I submitted Graham's sighting to the BTO, half expecting that the bird had come from the British Mainland.  When the ringing recovery arrived back, my hopes were a trifle dented, as the gull had been ringed fairly locally.

  EA53451 , had been ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 29th January 2020, by Kendrew Colhoun, at the Dundrum Inner Bay, on Strangford Lough, County Down.  Castlewellan Forest Park lies 7 kms / 4 miles (WNW) from Dundrum, and the duration since being ringed, is 1 year, 8 months and 2 days.

Not such an exciting find, but at least Kendrew knows his bird is still on the go.  My thanks again to Graham for this one.
      Ringing Details Received       
Back on the 19th September 2021, one of my Scottish contacts paid me a visit at Antrim Marina, as he and his wife were in Northern Ireland for a couple of days.  On departing, I suggested to 'GB', that he should visit Sandy Bay at Larne, which is fairly close to the Ferry Terminal, as they were going home that evening.

GB, (who prefers to be named by his initials), took up my suggestion and whilst at Sandy Bay, he recorded two colour-ringed Sandwich Terns - (White) E27 &   UVV .  GB reported both birds to thier respective project contacts, and Chris Redfern quickly replied to say that -   UVV , was ringed as a chick, on the 12th June 2014, on Coquet Island in Northumberland, England.
Iain Livingstone has now replied concerning (White) E27.  The bird was ringed as a chick, on the 17th June 2017, at Hunterston in Ayrshire, Scotland.  GB's sighting at Sandy Bay, was a first re-sighting since the bird was ringed.  The duration since being ringed, is 4 years, 3 months and 2 days, and the distance from Hunterston to Sandy Bay, is 112 kms / 69 miles (SSW).
My thanks again to GB, for sharing his sightings, along with the photos, and to Iain Livingstone for providing the ringing details.
Sandwich Tern  -  (White)  E27  -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (19 Sep 2021)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 17th June 2017, at Hunterston, Ayrshire, Scotland)
(Photo Courtesy of GB)

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