|Today's Black-headed Gulls|
My sister, Heather and I , arrived at the Marina this morning, to find the weather was more fitting for this time of year. The sky was heavily clouded over, although it stayed dry. The strongish wind blowing in from the Lough, was very cold at times and on several occasions, we retreated to the car to warm up a bit. Later on in the morning, the wind died down slightly and the sun could be seen peaking through the clouds every now and again. At this time, the flies appeared, which pleased the gulls to no end - natural food to feed on.
86 Black-headed Gulls were present when we arrived this morning and by 12 noon, the number had risen to the 200+ mark. So far this winter, I have sighted 26 out of the 36 Darvic-rung gulls, that I have recorded here since I started 'Ring Watching' at the Marina in September 2013. My hopes of the arrival of 2ABP were dashed, as he never appeared. His failure to show, means that he is now overdue, the only gull not to arrive early or when expected.
Today, did however, see the first re-sighting of another gull. 2BRC , put in it's first appearance of the winter. 2BRC was caught and ringed on the 1st February this year at the Marina, the day that Adam McClure and I met for the first time. I re-sighted it on 4 occasions over the following weeks and it was last seen here on the 15th March. This co-insided with the departure's of the Continental gulls such as 2AAR , whose final winter sighting occurred on the same date. At present, I am waiting on a file update from Adam, to see if this gull has been reported by anyone else since March. 2BRC becomes my 27th Darvic-rung gull to be recorded this winter and due to it only being ringed earlier this year, I am still building a profile of it's comings and goings.
It can also be noticed now, how many of the gulls are relying on extra food, as many of them are showing up consistently from week to week.
Black-headed Gulls Present Today.
|Other Birds at Antrim Marina|
At Last, the Common Gulls are starting to come in to the Marina. Today, saw two males and the small female, who all appearred early in the morning and stayed throughout our 4 hour visit. More of these gulls should start to arrive here over the next few weeks and I am hoping EY64036 which was ringed as a chick in Scotland, puts in her third winter appearance.
The third calendar year Herring Gull, which has not been seen in the last couple of weeks, also showed up today and was present for quite some time.
Last Sunday, only a small number of Mallards were seen when we arrived, with the numbers only rising to about 50+. There was a big contrast in numbers today, as there were around 100 present when we arrived and the numbers remained consistent throughout our visit. There was no sign of the 2 ringed Mallards from County Monaghan. 2 Black ducks present today, looked as if they were of an ornimental nature. These may have escaped from somewhere or were just dumped here.
Only one Mute Swan was present at first, with the numbers rising to 5 altogether and no sign of the cygnet, that has appeared over the last two weeks. Only the one metal-ring was noted today and that was Z91982 . Other Mute Swans could be seen out on the Lough, but chose not to come in.
The usual crow species of Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and a single Magpie, were the only other larger species to be noted. The only smaller birds to be seen, was a single Pied Wagtail and a Dipper, which repeatedly flew back and forth across the river.
|Ringing Details Received|
On Tuesday afternoon, I finally received an eagerly awaited email concerning the Darvic-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull F461 , which I spotted on the 10th October, at the Whiteabbey Shoreline, on the east coast of County Antrim. Confirmation of this gull came direct from Portugal. It was ringed by RIAS on the 18th November 2014.
RIAS is a Center for Recovery and Wildlife Research and is based at the Ria Formosa National Park, Olhão, South Portugal. This Centre takes in all manner of wildlife that have been struck by disease or injury, releasing them back into the wild after treatment and re-cupperation.
No specific details were given about the symptons concerning this Gull, but it has obviously suffered no after effects, having turned up at Whiteabbey. My re-sighting is the first for this gull, having travelled about 1,967 Kms / 1,222 miles in a northerly direction. This one is now my best sighting of a ringed bird and comes with a small story behind it. RIAS have stated that they will keep me informed of any future re-sightings.
My thanks go to the staff at RIAS for supplying the ringing details and their Blog can be found by Clicking Here.
Ria Formosa, Portugal to Whiteabbey, Northern Ireland
Lesser Black-backed Gull - Black F461
|Friday 23rd October|
Today, I decided to try the Roe Estuary, which is site that I have never been to before. It is situated in the north-west of Northern Ireland where the River Roe flows into Lough Foyle. To my dismay, when I arrived here, it was nearing high tide and the mudflats were under water.
Parking at the edge of this Nature Reserve, I could see 500+ gulls roosting on the marsh. I was really surprised at the number of Common Gulls here, with easily 200 to 250 present. I've never seen so many of this species in one place before. A further 200 to 250 Black-headed Gulls were also noted. Smaller numbers of Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, were roosting here as well.
The major problem, was that the vegitation was so tall, no legs could be seen to look for rings. I made my way along the edge of the marsh and went underneath the nearby railway bridge, to see what was on the other side.
100 to 120 Brent Geese were noted on the water's of Lough Foyle and 5 Black Swans swam in the company of 9 adult Mute Swans and a single cygnet.
I was very disapointed to find the tide was in and with so many gulls and geese in the area, I would have no doubt, there would have been colour-ringed birds to be got here. I'll try again, sometime soon hopefully.
What to do next? I decided to make the fairly long drive to Portrush on the North Coast of County Antrim. On arrival, I drove to Lansdowne Cresent, the street where I first lived after the family moved over from England, when I was 11 years of age. I remembered that gulls were always to be seen around the large car parking areas.
Only Herring gulls were to be seen here, though in good numbers and of all ages, from juveniles to adults. On the nearby rocks, were a small number of Oystercatchers. Spending about an hour here, the gulls were frequently coming and going, but no rings to be seen. I am still waiting to get my first Herring Gull with a Darvic.
Moving on to the East Strand Car Park, I was confronted by over 100 gulls standing on the tarmac. The majority were Black-headed Gulls, some Common Gulls and juvenile Herring Gulls. What really caught my eye, was a Ring-billed Gull, the first I've ever seen. After taking a few photos, it was down to business looking for rings and I got one.
A Black-headed Gull with a 'metal-ring', would not let me anywhere near it. So I drove to the local filling-station and bought a loaf. This did the trick and I was able to scope the whole ring number - London EW83177 . I have reported the number to the BTO and now await the ringing details.
The bread also attracted an albinistic Jackdaw. You'd have thought someone threw paint over it. Years ago, I saw a Jackdaw that was completely Grey, but have never seen one with so much white as this one.
Black-headed Gull - London EW83177
|Saturday 24th October|
This was another attempt to get the code for the juvenile Common Gull that I spotted here a couple of weeks ago, bearing an Orange Darvic. I spent an hour searching through the gulls and waders for rings, but got nothing, unlike previous visits here.
A good number of gulls and waders were to be found here. Scoping for rings, it did not take too long to get 4 'metals', but all too far away to try and get the numbers. 2 were on Herring Gulls and 1 on an Oystercatcher. A Common Gull with a 'metal', may well be the same one I got a partial number for, on the 11th October, with the up-side down ring.
A Common Gull with a Blue Darvic 2AIP , was the same gull I recorded on the 10th October and was spotted at almost the same location on the Beach.
A quick stop at the Harbour here in Carrickfergus, as there were very few gulls about, all Black-headed, just 15 altogether. Looking through these, I spotted two with Orange Darvics from Adam's BHG Study. 2ADB , I recorded a few weeks ago and a new one to me is 2AFB . Later on Saturday evening, Adam sent me the file for this one.
2AFB was ringed as an adult male at Carrickfergus on the 30th December 2013. It was seen on 5 occasions at Carrickfergus between January and October 2014, before Cameron Moore spotted it at Ballycarry, a few miles North. It was not observed again until the 14th March 2015, when Brian Henderson sighted it at Loch Ryan in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Black-headed Gull - Orange 2ABF
2AFB was back at Carrickfergus, when Adam himself spotted it on the 27 July 2015 and my sighting today, is the first since then.
With the tide well out, about 50 Black-headed Gulls were perched on the exposed rocks. A few Common Gulls were also present and 5 Oystercatchers were probing on the small sandy beach. Scoping the gulls, I noticed 1 Common Gull and 1 Black-headed Gull bearing 'metal-rings'. With some of the bread that I still had from yesterday, I tried to lure the gulls towards me, as they were too far away to read the ring numbers.
Only the Common Gull came near me and I managed one photo and then it flew off. After that, neither of the gulls came near me. On checking the photo, I did get a partial number - *S13*** on a BTO ring. As all ringers would know, the missing first letter is probably an 'E'. Looking at the photo, the 3rd number looks as if it is a 6, but I'm not 100% sure. Adam lives nearby, so he'll have a go at finishing off the number.
These two 'metals', makes it 6 'metals' in all today. If these birds had colour-rings attached to them, I would easily have got the codes for them all.
Heading back home, I decided to stop by here again for a second visit. I'm glad I did, as I spotted another Common Gull 2AIN , from Shane Wolsey's Study on the Copeland Islands.. I have emailed Shane and await the gulls details. This is my 5th Darvic from the study since the 23rd August.
Common Gull - Blue 2AIN
|Today at Kinnego Marina|
Arriving here, we encountered 60 to 70 Black-headed Gulls all nicely sitting on one of walkways, all easy to scope. Within a short time, three of Adam's Darvic-rung gulls were noted, as well as three BHGs with 'metal-rings'.
2BPS and 2BPT were both spotted on my first visit here on the 27th September 2015. 2BPV was a new one for me and I now await it's file from Adam.
Of the three 'metals', I only managed partial numbers for two of the gulls. ****966 is the same gull that I had on the 27th September and on that occasion, I failed to obtain the 2nd letter as well as the first number E**2966 . The 2nd metal read EW3*806 and on this one, I failed to get the 2nd number. The third metal was on a one-legged Black-headed Gull and I failed to get any details at all on this one. I remember that Adam caught a one-legged BHG earlier this year and I have asked him to confirm whether he ringed it or not.
The reason I failed to get the numbers was due to several people arriving at the same time to feed the birds. Once the gulls had their fill, they flew off. I might just try this site again tomorrow, as I'm keen to get all three numbers.
Black-headed Gull - Orange 2BPV