Monday, 31 March 2014

Mystery solved....kind of!

This is the 100th post on the blog and wouldn't it be great if I was reporting breaking 1000 re-sightings? Well, if you suffer from OCD, look away now.

We currently have received 969 re-sightings, just short of the next milestone of 1000 re-sightings. This wasn't helped by the fact that a three hour visit to Antrim yesterday wasn't even rewarded with a sighting of a gull, never mind a ring!

Better news during the week, however...following a bit of detective work by Mark Grantham at BTO and Gareth has meant that, while we do not know the individual bird, we know that the mystery foreign bird from last weekend originated in Finland. 

This is the second Finnish bird to be recorded here this winter, after I reported a first-winter bird at Newcastle in November (below). 

Gareth also heard back about a ringed first-winter Common Gull he had seen last month. It was ringed as a nestling at Hunterston in north Ayrshire by Clyde Ringing Group in June and was recorded at Lough Neagh in early February.

Photo by Gareth Platt

Many thanks to Gareth for all the information and all of his effort recording and reporting ringed gulls this winter.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hat-trick of foreign BHGs

On Sunday, Gareth Platt got in touch to say that, during his weekly visit to Lough Neagh to record ringed Black-headed Gulls (as well as ringed Common Gulls and Mute Swans!), he photographed three BHG with foreign rings.

Two, which he was able to confirm, were Icelandic in origin - one an adult and the second was a first-winter. Both have been reported to the BTO, and we'll let you know when we hear back.

Photo by Gareth Platt

Photo by Gareth Platt

Photo by Gareth Platt

Unfortunately, he was unable to piece together the full ring number for the third bird, however it isn't a BTO ring. 

Photo by Gareth Platt

Hopefully the bird will hang around until this weekend when Gareth will have another go.

Just for good measure, he also recorded nine colour-ringed birds from NI, taking us ever closer the next milestone for the project...but more about that soon!

Photo by Gareth Platt

Aren't the adults are looking fantastic with their dark brown hoods?!

As always, many thanks to Gareth for the information and the photos.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Dublin Bay Birds

Regular followers will know that one of the main objectives of this blog is to highlight colour-ringing projects in Ireland and encourage members of the public to keep an eye out for (and report!) colour-ringed birds.

One such study is Dublin Bay Birds. A massive collaborative initiative between Birdwatch Ireland and Dublin Port, the project is concentrating on investigating how waterbirds utilise Dublin Bay and the surrounding area.

As part of the project, several species will be colour-ringed to enable the lovely folks at Birdwatch Ireland to build up a database of resightings and monitor movements of individual birds around the Dublin area and further afield. 

Back at the end of January, ably assisted by a couple of Scottish reprobates known only as "Team Awesome", the team managed to catch and ring a huge number of birds...1,722 to be exact!

As part of this catch, all oystercatchers, redshank and bar-tailed godwits processed were also fitted with colour-rings, which will enable individual birds to be identified in the field. 

Colour-ringed redshank
Photo by Niall Tierney

A small number of birds were also fitted with radio transmitters which will allow BirdWatch staff to track their movements using a VHF radio receiver

Helen & Niall from BirdWatch Ireland tracking in Dublin Bay

This is a fascinating project and I will be following it closely as it develops over the next few years. If you'd like to learn more about Dublin Bay Birds, you can visit their project blog by clicking here or the link on the right-hand side of this page.

Most importantly, keep an eye out for colour-ringed waders and report your sightings here.

Many thanks to Niall for letting me use the photos and good luck with the project!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Mediterranean Gull - Green AETC

I was driving along the shore of Larne Lough on Sunday afternoon and I noticed that the number of gulls has increased dramatically recently. This is the start of the annual influx to the Lough, which Neal Warnock blogged about here this time last year (here).

Calling in at the train station at Glynn to have a quick look, I bumped into Neal who was scanning the flock of gulls. There were at least 8 Mediterranean gulls on the mud, including a couple of pairs displaying. 

One of the birds was fitted with a green colour-ring, and although it was too far away for us to read the inscription, it is most likely AETC, a bird which was photographed recently on Belfast Lough by Stuarty McKee.

Photo by Stuarty McKee
This bird was ringed in Lower Saxony in Germany in May 2008 and was first seen in Northern Ireland, by Neal at Carnlough in October 2008. It was recorded back in Germany the following April, before being seen at Whitehead in October 2010.

Many thanks to NIBA for the information and to Stuarty for the photo.