Thursday, 21 August 2014

Mediterranean Gull - White E742

Local birdwatcher, Cameron Moore, got in touch last week to report a sighting of a colour-ringed Mediterranean Gull at the seafront at Whitehead, County Antrim.

Photo by Cameron Moore

Originally ringed in The Netherlands, this is the same bird which both Cameron and I reported at Glynn in Larne Lough back in April (see here). Cameron's report is the first since those re-sightings. 

Red - Ringing location (De Kreupel Island, Netherlands)
Blue - Re-sighing locations (Glynn & Whitehead, Co. Antrim, NI)
Photo by Cameron Moore

Many thanks to Cameron for reporting the sighting and the photo and to Camille for the information.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

First re-sightings of 2014 birds

One of the aspects of colour-ringing young Black-headed Gulls which I find most interesting is seeing where they turn up once they leave the colony. Determining juvenile dispersal is also one of the main objectives of this colour-ringing study.

One of the aspects of colour-ringing young Black-headed Gulls which I find most frustrating however, is seeing colour-ringed birds which are too far away to read the code on the ring!!

After the frustration of seeing colour-ringed first-year birds at Dargan, Belfast Lough and Glynn, Larne Lough on 23 and 24 June which were too far away to identify, I am pleased to have received a number of re-sightings of juvenile birds away from their colonies.

Three birds have been reported so far, one from Castle Espie and two from Copeland Bird Observatory.

2BKC, which was ringed at Castle Espie on 19 June, was found dead at Hillsborough Lake at the end of July. Two birds  from the colony on the Copeland Islands have both made the journey to Kiltonga Nature Reserve at Newtownards, Co. Down.

Blue - Ringing locations
Red - Re-sighting locations
Many thanks to the observers who have taken the time to report their sightings via

Sunday, 17 August 2014

BHG - White 21L6

Our principle ring-reader, Gareth, got in touch during the week to let me know about a colour-ringed bird he had seen in Ballymena, County Antrim.

Photo by Gareth Platt.

Sporting a white ring, the code began with a "2". This means that it has been ringed in the UK or Ireland as all small gulls (i.e. Med, BHG and Common) colour-ringed in the UK or Ireland are given codes beginning with "2".

Gareth got in touch with the ringer via and heard back from Tim Ball that 21L6 had been ringed at Hosehill Lake LNR in Berkshire in June 2013.

Photo by Gareth Platt

Gareth's report is the eighth re-sighting of the bird since ringing, after it was reported wintering in Navan, Co. Meath last year before returning to Berkshire.

Blue - Hosehill Lake LNR, Berkshire
Red - Navan, Meath
Green - Ballymena, Antrim
Many thanks to Gareth for passing on the information from Tim.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The class of 2014

Another breeding season has come to an end and I have finally gotten around to updating the blog.

Young BHG on Blue Circle Island - notice the colour-ring
It seems to have been a successful year and this is reflected in fact that it has also been a good year for the study, with the number of young birds ringed increasing from 93 last year to 142.


No. colour-ringed



RSPB Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough



Copeland Islands



WWT Castle Espie, Strangford Lough






Although it is still very early days, having data from 2013 and 2014 does mean we can now produce a graph! Everyone loves a graph.

Number of birds ringed per colony in 2013 (blue) & 2014 (red)

As with last year, I had hoped to also ring on the National Trust islands in Strangford Lough, but once again the National Trust wardens reported that the BHG colonies on the Lough have had a very bad year. Most colonies collapsed and only one or two islands holding any sort of reasonable number of birds. 

Better news from the west from Brad Robson, with the colony on the RSPB reserve in Lower Lough Erne increasing once again, standing at just over 1000 pairs now.

As always, many thanks to Copeland Bird Observatory, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and RSPB for granting permission to ring on their reserves.