Monday, 28 January 2013

Metal ringed Black-headed Gull

During my lunch-break one day a couple of weeks ago I was in Castlewellan Forest Park, so I had a quick nosey at the small flock of Black-headed Gulls which were hanging around the lake.

Amongst them was this, BTO ringed bird.

I was able, with the help of a loaf of bread and by taking loads of photos on my camera, to piece the ring number together without having to catch the bird.  I've submitted my sighting to the BTO and I will update the blog when I find out the life-history.

P.S. I've deliberately not put up photos showing the ring numbers, that might spoil the surprise!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Two gull projects: 2012 annual reports

It's that time of year whenever people look back and reflect on the year that's been. On this note, a couple of the most successful gull projects in the country have produced their annual reports for 2012.

Not only are they two of the most successful projects in the country, they are probably two the most geographically distant, with the Grampian and Tay Ringing Groups in north-east Scotland and Guernsey gulls, on the Channel Islands.

Many thanks to Paul and Euan for producing these and letting me post them here.

Excellent work all round.

To view the Guernsey report, click here.

The NE Scotland Gull Report 2011-12 by Grampian and Tay Ringing Groups can be viewed below.

You can can keep up to date with these projects by visiting the respective blogs, links to which are listed on the right hand side of the screen. Grampian Ringing Group's blog is under the heading, "Ringing links / Blogs" and the blog for Guernsey Gulls is under "Colour ringed Gulls".  

Friday, 18 January 2013

That's a funny lookin' BHG

When I was out checking flocks for colour-ringed birds on New Year's Day I saw this fella at Sandy Bay, Larne roosting with the Black-headed Gulls.  It is, of course, a Mediterranean Gull not a Black-headed Gull.

Although there were six nesting pairs in Larne Lough last year(2012), Mediterranean Gulls are still a notable sighting around here.  Though in a recent email from Sean Kingston in Dublin, he told me the Med Gull flock at Sandycove in Dublin is now regularly in excess of 100 birds.

Sean et al. have been colour-ringing Mediterranean Gulls, so here's yet another species to check for Darvic rings!

To find out a bit more about Med Gull research, click on the link below:

Monday, 14 January 2013

Black-tailed Godwit - OG-WY

On Saturday morning I undertook the monthly survey at Whitehouse Lagoon as part of the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS).

It was much colder than it has been recently but my frozen fingers were worth it when I noticed a colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit amongst the flock of waders which were roosting and feeding on the lagoon.

As you can see, the bird had orange over green on the left leg and white over a yellow flag on the right.

I contacted the guys in charge of the Icelandic Godwit colour-ringing project and was very impressed with the quick response from Tómas Gunnarsson, (less than 5 minutes!) who told me that the bird had been ringed in Iceland.  A follow up email from Pete Potts confirmed that it had been ringed in north Iceland on 11th July 2012 near Langhus, SW of Siglufjordur.

This bird was one of a brood of at least two and here is a photo which Pete send me of both birds as they were being ringed.

Photo by Pete Potts
Pete also sent me this photograph of where the birds were ringed. What a place! Is it any wonder Iceland is probably my favourite country in the world?!
Photo by Pete Potts
You can find out more about colour-ringing Icelandic Godwits as part of Project Jadrakan by clicking the photo below: 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Black-headed Gull - Orange 2AAV

Chris wasn't the only Smith/Smyth who managed to get a photograph of one of our study birds this week, Mark Smyth got in touch with this very nice shot of 2AAV.

Photo by Mark Smyth

Many thanks to Mark and Chris for reporting their sightings and allowing me to use their images.

Friday, 11 January 2013

A couple of colour-ringed gulls

Chris Smith got in touch this week with some photos of several of our study birds, including these two.

Isn't it nice when they pose so nicely with the code positioned perfectly for the camera?!

2AAN - Photo by Chris Smith
2AAP - Photo by Chris Smith
Many thanks to Chris for getting in touch and allowing me to use his images.

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.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Black-headed Gulls - Orange 2ADJ, Orange 2AAK & White T35J

After sending me the image of 2AAT last week, Chris Smith got in touch again over the weekend to send me some more photos of colour-ringed birds he'd seen on another visit, this time on Saturday afternoon.

2ADJ - Photo by Chris Smith

2AAK - Photo by Chris Smith

T35J - Photo by Chris Smith