Monday, 21 October 2013

2AAR returns!

There has been one bird which I've been hoping to hear about more than any other this winter, 2AAR.

One of seven birds ringed one morning just before Christmas last year, it was subsequently recorded several times at Antrim during January and March.

2AAR at Antrim, January 2013

In early April though, I received word that 2AAR had been spotted in Poland where it was photographed on 5 April in Gdansk, before being recorded at a breeding colony at Hryniewicze a week later!

2AAR in Poland, April 2013
Photo by Artur Blad

Since August, I've been hoping that the bird would be seen back at Lough Neagh this winter, but it wasn't until yesterday, when Gareth Platt sent me through a batch of sightings, that we were able to confirm that 2AAR had returned!

2AAR at Antrim, Oct 2013
Photo by Gareth Platt
This map gives you a rough idea of 2AAR's movements this year, which (according to Google maps) is a trip of 2387km, but that's in a straight-line, so who knows how far it has travelled in reality.

Red - Antrim, NI
Yellow - Gdansk, Poland

Blue - Hryniewicze, Poland


This is a fantastic record and I must say many thanks to Gareth, who in the past month or so has submitted 79 records of Northern Irish colour-ringed gulls.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Birds not biting yet

I paid a visit to my main ringing site earlier this week to look for colour-ringed birds and to see if there were many gulls around.

There was a small flock of just over 100 Black-headed Gulls present and although I had no luck catching any new birds, I did record nine colour-ringed individuals, including 2AAF, 2AAS, 2AAK and 2AAT.


As I wasn't having much luck catching any birds, I did a quick count to see what ages the birds were and a rough count was:

Juveniles - 15%
2nd-winter - 10%
Adults - 75%

Chris Smith reported some colour-ringed birds from the same site later the same day and strangely, the only bird which we both recorded was 2AAS, I hadn't seen any of the others he did and he didn't see any of the others I had!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Med Gull - Red PNU0

At the end of July, Keith Stevens got in touch to report seeing some colour-ringed gulls at Lough Neagh in Antrim.

Amongst the flock of black-headed gulls, which included several of "our" birds, was this colour-ringed 2nd-winter Mediterranean gull, PNU0.

Photo by Keith Stevens

Keith reported the ring and heard back that this bird had been ringed as a chick on 27 May 2012 at Wojcice in Poland by Jakub Szymczak.  This is a movement of 1648km, and whilst it isn't a black-headed gull, it is yet another example of a gull, born in Poland, moving to winter in Northern Ireland.

Many thanks to Keith for passing on the photo and information.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Black-tailed Godwit - BYBB

A couple of weeks ago, while I was undertaking a BTO WeBS count at the Whitehouse Lagoon in Belfast, I noticed this colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit amongst the flock of 984 using the lagoon to feed or roost. 

As you can see it is blue / yellow on left and on the right leg it is blue above knee and blue / metal below knee.

Later that same day, I happened to be speaking to my friend, Ben Herschell on the phone. Ben is the secretary of Tay Ringing Group and he mentioned something about Tay and Grampian RGs colour-ringing Blkwits at Montrose Basin and I told him about the bird I'd seen that morning.

Ben had a quick check of his notebook while we were chatting and it turned out that this bird was ringed as a "3" (i.e. born in current calendar year) on 26 September 2011 at Montrose Basin!  It was re-sighted a further 18 times during the following winter, all at Montrose, with the last re-sighting being on 13 April 2012.

This was a great find for me, as I used to be the Scottish Wildlife Trust Ranger at Montrose Basin and to see a bird which had been ringed at the reserve a couple of months after I left was a fantastic result.

What a fortuitous chance phone call that turned out to be!