Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Those aren't gulls!

Just as this time last year, the blog has taken a backseat recently to fieldwork for much bigger, darker birds than Black-headed Gulls!

Brood of four large Raven chicks in Co. Down

We have more than doubled the number of Raven nests we're monitoring for the NI Raptor Study Group since 2014 and this has taken up much of our time of the past few weeks.

A sample of nests are also visited in order to establish accurate brood counts and the young are ringed to try and learn some more about their movements and how long they live.

As winter has made an unexpected return to Northern Ireland, I will take advantage of the unfavourable weather and post a couple of updates on the gull project over coming days.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Latvian re-sightings are like buses....

...you wait for one and then two come along at once!

Earlier this month I blogged about how 2AFD had been recorded at Getlini dump near Riga in Latvia (see here).

Well, I recieved another email today which told me that, not only was 2AFD still present at Getlini, but that a second bird with a NI colour-ring had also turned up! 

2BPP was one of four birds caught at Kinnego, Lough Neagh in October 2014 (see here). It was already fitted with a Latvian metal ring and a colour-ring was added.

Red - Kinnego, Lough Neagh, NI
Blue - Getlini, Riga, Latvia

What are the chances?!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Norwegian BHGs return north

We're beginning to build up a good picture confirming that many of our wintering birds originate from continential Europe. They migrate west each autumn to take advantage of our relatively mild winters.

In recent years, a number of colour-ringed birds from Norway have been seen in Counties Antrim (see here) and Armagh (see here and here).

The Norwegian ringing centre have a great online system which allows you to log-on and get up to date life histories on any birds you have reported. This system enabled me to check and confirm that both of these birds have been seen back in Norway for another summer.

J4P4, which has spent the past two winters at Lurgan Park, was reported at Oslo in early April and J4T4, which I photographed at Connswater in January 2014 was back in Oslo by mid-March. I wonder if either of these birds will be seen in NI again next winter.

J4T4 at Connswater, Belfast, January 2014

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A couple of Belgian beauties!

With Easter last weekend, most people have had Belgian chocolate on their minds recently. Here at BHGNI we've had Belgian gulls on ours...and Belgian chocolate, of course!

The first bird was sighted in Bellymena by Gareth and although it wasn't fitted with a colour-ring, great work by Gareth resulted in him managing to piece together the number on the metal ring.

Photo by Gareth Platt

He reported his sighting to the Belgian Bird Ringing Centre and received a re-sighting report through the post which told him that this bird had been ringed as a chick at Antwerp in June 2013.

The second bird was much easier to identify as it had been fitted with a colour-ring. Yellow EPRP was seen by Graham McElwaine at Ballytrasna in Co. Louth. Although this bird isn't in NI (if only it had been seen a couple of hundred yards to the north!), I thought it was interesting that two Belgian ringed birds should turn up in quick succession, so I've included it here.

A reply to an email I sent to Tim Audenaert confirmed that this bird had been ringed as a chick near Lokeren, Belgium in May 2014. This is the first re-sighting since ringing.

Remember if you record a colour-ringed gull in NI, please pass them on and we will help get the life history of the bird for you.

Red - Antwerp, ringing location of metal ringed BHG
Yellow - Ringing location of EPRP
Blue - Ballymena, metal ringed bird re-sighting location
Green - Ballytrasna, Louth, re-sighting location of EPRP

Many thanks to Gareth and Graham for reporting their sightings and passing on the feedback.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Our second foreign recovery!

I recived an email from Richard Bonser this morning which began, "I've been on a weekend of gulling at Getlini dump, Riga, Latvia and it seems that I have found one of your birds?"


I clicked on the attached photo and was delighted when it opened and I was able to confirm that it was one of "our" birds.

Photo by Richard Bonser

2AFD was ringed as an adult male at Antrim in February 2014. It wasn't recorded again until Gareth photographed it at Wakehurst Playing Fields in Ballymena in mid-November. It turned up back at Antrim two days later when it was seen by Paul Lynas and was recorded there throughout the winter until 22 March.

2AFD at Antrim, 16 November 2014
Photo by Gareth Platt
This is a fantastic record for the study and helps add to our knowledge of where birds wintering in Northern Ireland are originally from - one of the key objectives of the study.

Red - Antrim, NI
Blue - Getlini, Riga, Latvia

This is only the second record we've had of a NI colour-ringed bird from outside of the UK, which has made my Monday!

Many thanks to Richard for reporting his sighting and for allowing me to use his photo.