Monday, 7 January 2013

Black-headed Gull - Yellow 260D

I headed out on a strangely mild New Year's Day to check a couple of local Black-headed Gull flocks for colour-ringed birds.

Stopping off at the picturesque village of Glenarm which sits at the foot of Glenarm Glen, the most southerly of the Nine Glens of Antrim, I pulled into the seafront car park and had a quick scan of the birds which were roosting nearby.  Nothing of note so I threw out a couple of bits of bread in an effort to attract a few more birds in.

Within a couple of minutes I noticed a colour-ringed bird at the back of the flock, but frustratingly all I could see was a yellow ring as the grass was too long to make out the code.

Thankfully it eventually was very obliging and held it's left leg up nicely so I could make out the code on the ring as 260D.

It then flew up and landed on the railings which gave me an opportunity to confirm.

Once I got home I checked the details of the ring on and I found out that the bird was from Lough Mask, Co. Mayo.  I contacted Eoin McGreal and a very rapid responce told me that the bird had been ringed as a chick at Lough Mask in 2008.

Red - Lough Mask, Co. Mayo
Yellow - Larne Lough, Co. Antrim
Blue - Glenarm, Co. Antrim
It was then seen by Neal Warnock at Larne Lough in February 2009 and has since been seen twice, both times at Glenarm, so it appears as though this particular bird overwinters along this stretch of the Antrim Coast - and why wouldn't you want to, stunning piece of the world!

260D as a first winter bird in Feb 2009
Photo by Neal Warnock

Eoin also said that it is possible that it returns to the natal colony as a breeding adult but they have difficulties reading rings at this site due to high vegetation, etc. 

Thanks to Eoin for the information and to Neal for letting me use his picture.

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