Saturday, 22 August 2015

Brace yourself...winter is coming!

Actually, in the gull world it has already started.

As the breeding season draws to an end around mid- to late-June, adults and juveniles begin to disperse and head to their respective wintering sites. 

We had a number of British ringed birds back on their wintering sites in early July and, although they wouldn't be expected until the end of the month, several continental birds have been recorded in NI in early August.

Gareth has started his weekly ring-reading visits to Antrim (see here) and a couple of weeks ago, I recorded a good sized flock over 800 Black-headed Gulls feeding at Dargan Bay. There was at least one bird with an orange colour-ring present, unfortunately it was just too far away to read the code. Frustrating stuff!

So far this winter (since the start of July!), we have had:

  • A bird ringed as an adult on North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory in June 2011 at Kinnego Marina (not colour-ringed)
  • T35J (see here) returning to Antrim for another winter
  • T56W (see here) recorded back at Whitehouse Lagoon for another winter

Photo by Suzanne Belshaw
Many thanks to everyone who has reported sightings recently and if you have any sightings which you would like to share with the project, please do so at

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Colour-ringed Sandwich Terns

Things are certainly on the move with migrating birds passing through and gulls returning to their wintering sites. We have had several reports of continental birds already back at Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast Lough and at Antrim, Lough Neagh. I'll post a short update on the gulls in the next few days.

As well as reporting colour-ringed gulls, we like to post about interesting sightings of other colour-ringed birds in order to raise awareness of fellow projects and encourage people to check flocks and report their sightings.

Around mid- to late-July, large numbers of Sandwich Terns gather on Belfast Lough before heading south for the winter and it's always worth checking them for rings. A couple of weeks back, Cameron Moore got lucky and he photographed several colour-ringed Sandwich Terns at Whitehead, Belfast Lough. 

I suspected a couple of them were birds ringed by Ewan Weston in NE Scotland and passed the sightings on.

Ewan got back to tell us that they were indeed birds ringed on the Ythan Estuary, Grampian both in August 2010 - both as adults. There has been one re-sighting of each since.

Before Cameron's sighting, the bird pictured below was seen at Girdleness in April 2012.

Photo by Cameron Moore
Many thanks to Cameron for the sightings and Ewan for the information.