Friday, 19 January 2018

Mediterranean Gull - Yellow 2XJ9

Mediterranean Gulls have been breeding in Ireland since at least 1995, with the first confirmed breeding record being at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough.  

Since 2015, as well as ringing young Black-headed Gulls, we have been colour-ringing young Med Gulls during our visits to Blue Circle Island. A total of seven young Med Gulls have colour-ringed over the three years since.

We have only received a re-sighting of one of the seven birds so far, but it has been spotted a number of times since.

2XJ9 was ringed by me on Blue Circle Island at the end of June 2016.

    2XJ9 being ringed in June 2016


It was then photographed by Neal Warnock at Glenarm, about 12 miles up the Antrim Coast from Larne Lough. 


2XJ9 at Glenarm, August 2016
Photo by Neal Warnock
The bird was not reported again until September last year when it was re-sighted twice in ten days by the same observer at two sites on Loch Ryan. We got word last week that 2XJ9 is still overwintering in Scotland, as the same observer recorded it again, this time at a site just north of Stoneykirk.


Blue - Ringing location
Yellow - Re-sighting locations
We have added a page to the blog, which features photographs of Mediterranean Gulls (ringed and not) which have been recorded here in Northern Ireland. Please check it out by clicking here.

Many thanks to Neal and Brian for reporting their sightings and to Sean for co-ordinating Med Gull colour-ringing in Britain and Ireland.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Carrion Crow - White AL

Just before Christmas we visited Edinburgh Zoo for the day to celebrate our animal-mad wee boy's 6th birthday.

Among the exotic and exciting animals, my attention was drawn to a Carrion Crow which was kicking around beside Penguin Rock and was sporting a white colour-ring.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my binoculars with me but thankfully it was obviously used to people and I got close enough to allow me to read the code - "AL".

The bird flew up onto the roof of the coffee shop and I managed to get a couple of photos with my phone.





I checked the cr-birding website, but the only project I could find which matched was based in Belgium and I assumed there must be someone closer than that colour-ringing crows, so I asked via Facebook.

An email address was passed on and I contacted Dr Rachael Miller at University of Cambridge, who replied to tell me that she ringed AL as a sub-adult male in May 2011. This was one of 65 crows ringed in Edinburgh Zoo as part of behavioral studies she was supervising at the time, where they compared wild crow behaviour in birds in Edinburgh with those in Vienna, and several other urban zoo-using crows.

Despite not having moved very far in 6.5 years, it's still fascinating to hear what other researchers are studying and why.

Many thanks to Rachael for the information.

P.S. We also managed to see the pandas!


Happy New Year!

Thank you to everyone who reported sightings, sent photographs or helped with ringing during 2017. 

We hope 2018 will be gull-filled!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Black-headed Gull - Yellow 2H31

Scanning through a large flock of roosting Herring and Black-headed Gulls at the former landfill site at Dargan on the shores of Belfast Lough last week, I noticed a Black-headed Gull with a yellow ring.

It took a bit of time to get the code as the wind kept blowing the telescope about, but eventually I managed to read it as 2H31 and then got a couple of dodgy digi-scoped record shots of the bird on my phone.



Checking the fantastic, www.cr-birding.org website, I reported the sighting to Paul Roper of North Thames Gull Group who got back to tell me that it had been caught and ringed as an adult at Pitsea Landfill Site in Essex in March this year.

Yellow - Pitsea Landfill Site
Red - Dargan, Belfast Lough

This is the first sighting since.