Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Black-headed Gull - Yellow 2PAC

On the same day that one of our study birds was recorded in southern England (see here), a bird which had made the journey in the opposite direction was photographed by Neal Warnock at Carnlough, Co. Antrim.

 2PAC  at Carnlough, 3 Dec 2016
Photo by Neal Warnock

 2PAC  was ringed as an adult by the North Thames Gull Group at Pitsea landfill site in Essex on 27th February 2016 and this is the first resighting of it since.

The bird has since been re-sighted by Gary and he managed to get a closer photo.

 2PAC  at Carnlough, 16 Dec 2016
Photo by Gary Platt

I wonder if this is a continental bird which has regularly wintered in Co. Antrim and was trapped on it's return journey east. Hopefully further re-sightings of the bird will tell us.

Many thanks to Neal and Gary for their photos and Paul Roper at NTGG for the information.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Another wanderer returns

A couple of weeks back, I put up a short post about visiting sites around Carrickfergus (see here). The visit was in the hope of seeing the German-ringed bird we caught and colour-ringed last winter (see here), which was subsequently recorded in Poland (see here).

Well, as usual, Gary has beaten me to it!

I was delighted when he sent an email on Saturday evening with the photo below attached,  2ANX  is back. 

Photo by Gary Platt

Many thanks to Gary for the photo and his efforts in re-sighting so many ringed birds here.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Where have you been?!

We have received a report from the BTO that one of our birds was recorded in Norfolk last week.

 2BAN  was ringed as a chick on RSPB Blue Circle Island in 2013 and hasn't been seen since, until it was seen at Ormesby Broad near Great Yarmouth.

Ringing on Blue Circle Island, July 2013

Blue - Blue Circle Island, Antrim
Orange - Ormesby Broad, Norfolk

I do wonder where these birds go that they can manage to go unrecorded for several years before turning up. Gary had another recent example when he recorded one of Shane's colour-ringed Common Gulls at Whitehead, just 8 miles from the Copelands where it was ringed over six years ago.

It would be fantastic at some stage to tag birds to see where exactly they go on their travels. I'm sure we'd learn so much we don't know.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

First new bird of the winter caught and ringed

After a fairly quiet winter last year catching wise, we are hoping to add some wintering birds to our study in an effort to establish where our wintering birds have originated.

On Sunday morning, a couple of us met up at a site where we have had some success catching birds in the past. Generally these sites need to be places where the birds are used to be being fed by people and have lost some of their fear. As such, sites tend to be duck ponds or fast-food car parks!

Unfortunately, birds appeared wary and we only managed to catch and ring one new bird, a first-winter bird. While we at least know the age of this bird, who knows where it has come from. 

In addition to this new study bird, there were 20 re-sightings of colour-ringed birds, including the Lithuanian BHG with a Polish colour-ring that we first recorded at Antrim in October 2012 (see here).

2CJT shortly after being ringed

Perhaps it was the fact it has been slightly milder recently, but we will keep trying and hopefully add a few more individuals in coming months.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Another Norwegian bird returns

I've heard of an influx of white-winged gulls but never "white-ringed" gulls, however, this is what appears to have happened recently, with another white colour-ringed bird reported! This time at Lurgan Park in Co. Armagh.

Photo by Suzanne Belshaw

Another returning bird, first recorded here by Stephen Hewitt back in 2013, J4P4 was ringed as a chick at Stanga, Råde, Østfold in 2006. It wasn't recorded again until it was recaptured in 2011 and the colour-ring added.

The addition of the colour-ring has generated multiple sightings and it has subsequently been recorded at Oslo (2012); Solgård avfallsplass, Moss, Østfold (2013); Lurgan, Co. Armagh (winter 2013-14 and 2014-15); and back in Norway during the breeding season in 2015 and 2016.

J4P4 at Lurgan, March 2015
Photo by Kev Kirkham-Brown

Suzanne photographed the bird back at Lurgan a couple of days ago where it probably also spent last winter, but went undetected. 

Frustratingly for Suzanne, there was another ringed bird present but unfortunately it wasn't colour-ringed and she was unable to read the number on the metal ring.

Photo by Suzanne Belshaw

Thanks to the colour-ring, and the fantastic Norwegian colour-ringed birds website; we know where this bird was born (blue below), where it now breeds (red below) and where it winters (Lurgan Park!). 

Blue (Stanga, Råde, Østfold) - colony where born
Red (Sondre Langara) 
- colony where now breeds

Many thanks to Suzanne for the report and her photos.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Black-headed Gull - White J5P9 (back in Belfast!)

Back in December 2013, I recorded a Norwegian colour-ringed Black-headed Gull at Dargan, Belfast Lough (see here).

It had orignally been ringed in Oslo in April 2011 before being recorded in Cumbria (August 2011), Stranraer (November 2013) and Belfast (December 2013).  It had subsequently been seen back in Norway during the breeding season in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

There had been no further sightings during the winter, until Gary photographed it last week. It was back at Dargan, where I had seen it three years ago.

Photos by Gary Platt

While this is a great result to get, it's frustrating for me as I regularly check the flock of gulls here and haven't managed to see it since my record in 2013! Must get back there soon....

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Black-headed Gull - White 5HA

A colour-ringed adult has been photographed a couple of times recently at Whitehead, Co. Antrim. The first, from Cameron Moore, was taken on 26th November and this was quickly followed up by a sighting from Gary two days later.

Photo by Cameron Moore

Photo by Cameron Moore

Photo by Gary Platt

Cameron reported his sighting via Graham McElwaine, the re-sightings co-ordinator for the Irish Brent Goose Research Group, who passed it onto Kjeld Tommy Pedersen in Denmark and was kind enough to copy us into the email.

Kjeld responded with the life-history which told us this bird had been ringed as an adult male in March 2015 at Gentofte, eastern Denmark.

Green - Gentofte (ringing location)
Orange - Whitehead (re-sighting location)

This is the second Danish colour-ringed Black-headed Gull we have recorded here in recent years (see here).

Cameron's sighting was the first report of this bird since ringing. Many thanks to Graham for keeping us "in the loop", to Cameron and Gary for their photos and to Kjeld for the quick response and information.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Black-headed Gull - White AD394

A first-winter bird with a white colour-ring was photographed recently by Robin Vage at Corbet Lough in County Down. He got in touch to ask if we knew which project it belonged to and we pointed him in the direction of Sonke Martens in Germany.

Photo by Robin Vage

Robin reported his sighting and quickly heard back from Sonke that this bird had been ringed as a chick in June this year at a site north of Hamburg. Distance from ringing site to Corbet is around 1050km.

Red - Ringing location
Orange - Re-sighting location

This is the first re-sighting of this bird and their first report from Northern Ireland. Another fantastic record of a continental bird wintering here. 

Many thanks to Robin for the report and photo and to Sonke for the information.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Another returning Latvian

Last month, we reported the return of an over-wintering Latvian Black-headed Gull to Kinnego Marina. We caught the bird and added a colour-ring in October 2014 and it was subsequently recorded in Latvia in April 2015 and April 2016 (see here).

This was one of two birds we have had turn up at Riga. The other, ringed as an adult male at Antrim in February 2014, was also recorded in April 2015 (see here) and was seen back at Antrim last year where it spent the winter.

2AFD at Riga, Latvia in April 2015
Photo by Richard Bosner

We have been waiting to see if 2AFD would return to Antrim again this year and last week, as predicted, Gary recorded the bird during his weekly visit.

2AFD at Antrim, November 2016
Photo by Gary Platt

This once again illustrates how faithful these birds are to their wintering sites and how predictable they can become.

Now that it is turning a bit colder, we must find the time to get out and try catch a few wintering birds. Who knows, we might get a few more turning up at Riga!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Checking local sites

On Wednesday, I found myself with a bit of free time during daylight hours (something which is unusual at this time of year given the short days), so I suggested to my wee boy that we go "feed the ducks". This, of course, is code for check for ringed gulls!

I particularly wanted to see if there was any sign of the German bird which I caught and colour-ringed last winter (see here), so we headed off to check a couple of local sites where it might turn up.

Our first stop was the seafront at Whitehead, where there was small flock of roosting birds present. Mostly Black-headed Gulls but also several Herring Gulls and a single Common Gull.

No rings seen, but I was able to have a play with the camera and try to get some nice shots.

Next stop was Carrick Harbour, where there wasn't a gull to be seen! Swiftly moving on to Carrick Mills Ponds where I had caught and ringed the bird. Usually there is quite a significant flock of Black-headed Gulls here, especially at high tide which coincided with our visit. Strangely however, there was only 6-7 gulls present which grew to around 20 once we started feeding. 

Again, no rings seen but we did manage to get acquainted with some other locals.

We'll keep checking and hopefully 2ANX will turn up soon.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Mediterranean Gull - Red PNU0

Mediterranean Gull PNU0 was first recorded at Antrim Marina by Keith Stevens back in July 2013 (see here). As you can see from the photo below, it was a second summer bird.

Mediterranean Gull PNU0 at Antrim Marina, July 2013
Photo by Keith Stevens

The bird has since been seen a number of times, with all records coming from Northern Ireland.

The most recent records have been at Whiteabbey when Gary photographed the bird in early September and mid-October.

Mediterranean Gull PNU0 at Whiteabbey, September 2016
Photo by Gary Platt

Mediterranean Gull PNU0 at Whiteabbey, October 2016
Photo by Gary Platt
Mediterranean Gull PNU0 at Whiteabbey, October 2016
Photo by Gary Platt

PNU0 was originally ringed as a chick at Wòjcice in Poland in May 2012. 

Blue - Wojcice, Poland [Ringing location]
Red - Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland [Re-sighting location]

Re-sighting locations of PNU0 in Northern Ireland
Blue - Antrim Marina [July 2013]
Green - Ballywalter [November 2013]
Orange - Belfast Waterworks [December 2015]
Red - Whiteabbey [September / October 2016)

Now that it is an adult, it would be great to get a re-sighting of the bird during the breeding season to try and find out if it is settled and breeding here in Northern Ireland, or if it's returning to Poland (or elsewhere) each year to breed.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Common Gull - "Tarffie"

One of the main objectives of our study is to establish site fidelity of wintering gulls and below is a story froMícheál Casey from the west of Ireland of a Common Gull which is yet another fantastic example of how amazingly site-loyal these birds can be.

Photo by Micheal Casey

This Common Gull, now known among Sligo gull aficionados (there are several) as 'Tarffie' has become rather special.  It was ringed by Scottish ringer Hugh Insley at a breeding colony on Loch Tarff in the Scottish Highlands in 1997.   I first read this bird's ring in the harbour during the autumn of 2003, and have seen & photographed it in the same place in Sligo Harbour (Quay St Car Park) every winter since then. I email Hugh each August/September when I get the first photo of it, which was on the 3rd of September this year.  

It is back again this autumn beginning its 13th successive recorded winter in Sligo Harbour (I may have missed its previous winter visits) at the ripe old age of 19 years, and its site fidelity is a great example of just how precise gull migration can be - what looks like a random winter gull flock may be executing as precise a return to a favoured location as the Swallows in your garage......

Many thanks to Mícheál for the story and photograph.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Confirmation of an Inch BHG

We have recorded two birds so far which are likely to have been birds ringed at Inch this summer. Back in August, a metal-ringed bird was at Portrush and in September, a colour-ringed bird was recorded at the River Foyle. Unfortunately neither ring number was confirmed, although we think the colour-ring might have been 2DAD

Metal ringed BHG at Portrush, August 2016
Photo by Gary Platt

Colour-ringed BHG on River Foyle, September 2016
Photo by Gary Platt

Finally though, Gary has been able to confirm an Inch bird, after he photographed a metal-ringed juvenile at Coleraine recently. 

Photo by Gary Platt

He was able to piece together the ring number and was delighted to discover it was was one of a handful of birds which he ringed during the first visit to Inch in May. We only added colour-rings during the second and third visits, but this bird must have gone undetected during the later visits (see here).

Green - Inch, Donegal
Orange - Coleraine, Co. Londonderry

The bird made life easy, landing on the car so it wasn't too difficult to read the ring in the end.

Photo by Gary Platt

Hopefully this is only the first of many re-sightings of birds from Inch.