Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Where do our young birds go to breed?

This is one of the main objectives of our colour-ringing study, so as you can imagine at this time of year, we have been extremely busy trying to visit our study colonies to colour-ring a sample of the young. This enables us to monitor the movements of birds as they disperse from the colony, as well as seeing if they return to their natal site to breed once they mature.

Earlier this month, Gary recorded a bird at Antrim which he had never seen before, 2ALH. The behaviour of the bird led Gary to conclude that it is breeding at the colony on the old torpedo platform in Lough Neagh just offshore from Antrim.

2ALH at Antrim, June 2016

Upon checking the database, I was surprised to learn that this bird had been ringed as a chick on Mew Island, Copelands in June 2013. You can see a report of that visit here.

The team of ringers on Mew back in June 2013

It had been recorded four times since ringing, three times at Ward Park in Bangor and once at Ballyholme in October 2015.

This highlights the advantage of ringing young birds at colonies - we know where this bird was born, when and now, where it is breeding! It's interesting to note that this bird has moved in-land to breed, I would have assumed that a bird born on the Copelands would move to another marine colony nearby, perhaps in Belfast Lough, Strangford or Larne Lough.

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