Monday, 24 June 2013

Visit to RSPB Blue Circle Island

Last week I made my first visit to a Black-headed Gull colony, namely the RSPB reserve on Blue Circle Island in Larne Lough, Co. Antrim, to attempt to ring pulli birds.

Ringing pulli in a colony has a number of advantages - firstly the birds are of known age and origin and secondly it allows large numbers of birds to be ringed effectively with minimal effort.

Blue Circle Island from Magheramourne (you can
just see it to the left of the blue boat).

Accompanying the RSPB's Reserve Ecologist, Matthew Tickner, we headed out from Magheramourne and while Matthew undertook his monitoring work of terns nesting on the island, I got on with catching and ringing young gulls.

There are around 2000 pairs of Black-headed Gull nesting on Blue Circle, but when we arrived there were a lot of large chicks which had already fledged and as I was working on my own, I only managed to colour-ring 35 birds. I'm pleased with this total, however, as we were only on the island for a short time.

Upon leaving Blue Circle, we headed over to Swan Island to count the number of terns nesting on the smaller of the two islands, although the most unusual bird we recorded during our visit was a Brent Goose...he must've decided that flying to Arctic Canada just wasn't worth while and thought spending the summer on Larne Lough was much better option!

We are due to make another visit to monitor terns soon, so I hope that some of the very small Black-headed Gull chicks which were just hatched when we visited last week will be suitable for ringing.

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