Monday, 30 December 2013

Silly birdy!

I had hoped to be writing about all the gulls I had ringed during the Christmas holidays, but a combination of illness and the stormy weather have resulted in me only getting out for the first time this afternoon.

I took my wee boy, who has just turned two on Christmas Eve, and we headed off to meet Kevin at the seafront in Carrickfergus. We had only arrived and I managed to catch an adult female almost immediately and the reaction from Ruben was brilliant, when he said, "Silly birdy!" while laughing....out of the mouths of babes, eh?!

After a while, Ru got a bit agitated and we had to go for a walk to see the big boats! It gave us an opportunity to check for colour-rings and we recorded 2ADD and 2ADB, as well as a bird with a foreign metal ring. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the code on the ring, but I will try again later in the week.

When we got back to the car we gave catching another go and were rewarded with an adult male.

These two birds have taken the total of birds ringed since starting the study to 149...I'm going to head out tomorrow in the hope of taking that total to 150 before the end of the year!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Black-headed Gull - White J5P9

Co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) monitors waterbirds throughout the UK.

Carried out on the same weekend once a month right across the country, these counts allow the BTO to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution of particular species and to identify important sites for waterbirds.

Yesterday, while I was out counting my section of Belfast Lough, I noticed a small flock of black-headed gulls roosting near the old landfill site on Dargan Road. Scanning through them, checking for colour-rings, I was delighted to find one of them sporting a white ring with J5P9 engraved on it.

Checking the brilliant cr-birding website, I realised that this was another Norwegian ringed bird, following on from Stephen and Cameron's sightings earlier this winter (see here and here).

Entering the details on the Norwegian colour-ringing website, I got an instance response to tell me that this bird had been ringed in Oslo in April 2011.

Since then, it has been recorded in Cumbria (August 2011), back in Norway (July 2012 and April 2013) and Stranraer (November 2013), before I saw it yesterday in Belfast.

Red - Ringed in Oslo, April 2011
Yellow - Recorded in Cumbria, August 2011
Light blue - Seen back in Norway, July 2012 & April 2013
Green - Recorded at Stranraer, November 2013
Blue - Recorded at Belfast, December 2013

Monday, 2 December 2013

Black-headed Gulls talk at NIOC, 05.12.13

I'm giving another talk on our study in Northern Ireland, this Wednesday to the Northern Ireland Ornithologists' Club.

Starting at 7.30pm, the talk will be held in the Ulster Museum, Belfast and it is open to everyone, although a small charge applies.

For more information visit the NIOC website: (if even just to check out the cracking photo of an adult Med Gull in summer plumage!).