Saturday, 22 February 2014

Not far from the Farnes!

I received an email during the week from Gary Woodburn who had seen and photographed 2AAJ at Seahouses in Northumberland.

Photo by Gary Woodburn

This bird was ringed as an adult at Antrim in December 2012 and was recorded there five times during December and January last winter. It wasn't seen again until December 2013, when it was reported by Gary Platt at Antrim - the only occasion it was seen there this winter.

I wonder if it makes up one half of one of the 500 or so pairs of Black-headed Gull which breed on the Farne Islands, only a couple of miles from Seahouses.

Apart from 2AAR, which was seen in Poland last April, this is only the second report I've had of one of our study birds from outside Northern Ireland, so I was delighted to hear from Gary.

Many thanks to Gary for getting in touch and for the photo. You can visit Gary's blog by clicking here or following the link for Beadnell Birding on the side of this blog.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Colour-ringed Whoopers

Last Friday, I had to travel up to County Donegal to speak to the Inishowen Wildlife Club. If you've never visited Inishowen, I would highly recommend it as it is one of the finest parts of Ireland and I love any excuse to visit.

It was a bit touch and go on the way as the weather over the Glenshane Pass was, what can only be described as, wintery! Lorries and vans struggled to make it over the Pass and I luckily just made it through before they closed it for a time.

This delay meant that I didn't make it up to Donegal as early as I had hoped, so my planned birding around Inch was scuppered. I did however, spend a bit of time checking flocks of feeding whooper swans for colour-rings and was rewarded with two ringed birds, BUS and ABC.

Via the wonder of modern technology, I contacted Kane Brides at WWT through Twitter and was able to find out that BUS was ringed as a moulting adult by him and Jon Middleton during a visit to Iceland last summer. This is the first time it has been seen since.

Photo by Kane Brides
ABC had been ringed as a cygnet at Sigurdarstadatjorn, Fljotsheidi, Iceland in 2010 and has been recorded at WWT Martin Mere in November 2010 and November 2012, with a sighting in Cambridgeshire in March 2012. My sighting at Inch is the second this winter, after it was reported there back in November.

At the end of my talk to the wildlife club, I put out a request for the members to report any other sightings of colour-ringed swans to Kane and earlier this week, Brian Hegarty got in touch to say he had seen AXL in Co. Tyrone.

Photo by Brian Hegarty
It had been ringed in 2012 and spent last winter at Martin Mere.

If you have any sightings of colour-ringed Whooper Swans, you can report them to

Thanks to Kane for the information and photos and to Brian for reporting AXL and allowing me to use his photo.

Friday, 14 February 2014


Well, it has taken until mid-February, but we're finally off the mark for 2014!

As winter decided to turn up and the weather has turned colder, I paid a visit to Antrim and the first thing I noticed was how high the water levels on Lough Neagh are.

The water is normally about 3 feet below the bottom of the railings on the pier beside the slipway, but you'd need Wellies to even walk on the pier at the minute!

There was a reasonable sized flock of gulls present, mostly Black-headed, but also a Herring and a couple of Commons, including a metal ringed bird.

I managed to read ten colour-rings and caught a new bird. This adult male is hopefully the first of many to be ringed in 2014.