Friday, 17 March 2017

Where have you been?

In the last post I touched on how some birds, despite being colour-ringed, can go long periods undetected.

Well, Suzanne got another example last weekend...

During another visit to Lurgan Park she photographed another colour-ringed Black-headed Gull 290P

Photo by Suzanne Belshaw

We knew from previous sightings that this was likely a bird from Lough Mask in Mayo, so she reported her sighting to Chris Benson and Eoin McGreal.

Chris replied, informing us that 290P had indeed been ringed at Lough Mask, as a chick back in June 2007. This was the first re-sighting of it in the 10 years since!

This is similar to one of Gary's sightings from last spring, when he spotted a different Lough Mask bird at Glynn, Larne Lough which had also been ringed in 2007 (see here). This too, was the first re-sighting.

Many thanks to Suzanne for her sightings and Chris for the ringing information.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Black-headed Gull - Blue 2F05

Suzanne recently photographed a Black-headed Gull with a blue colour-ring at Lurgan Park, Armagh.

Photo by Suzanne Belshaw

She reported her sighting to the BTO and heard back that it had been ringed as a first-winter in December 2012 at Preston Docks in Lancashire. 

Blue - Preston Docks, Lancashire
Yellow - Lurgan Park, Armagh

We don't know if the bird has been recorded between these sightings and although you might not think it, it's amazing how long some birds can go undetected....more to follow on this soon!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Black-headed Gull - Yellow 2BT3

David Nixon reported a sighting of 2BT3 at Mill Quarter Bay, Strangford Lough back in November 2016.

We heard back in January from Grampian Ringing Group that it had been ringed as an adult during a night-time mist-netting session on the Ythan Estuary in August 2016.

Yellow - Ythan, Aberdeenshire
Blue - Mill Quarter Bay, Down

Grampian Ringing Group have been colour-ringing Sandwich Terns at the Ythan since 2010 (see here) and we have had a number of their birds recorded in NI (see here and here).

As part of their study, they catch birds at night in mist nets and they sometimes catch other species which they also ring, including Black-headed Gulls. This is the second colour-ringed Black-headed Gull from Grampian we have reported from NI (see here).

Many thanks to David for his report and Calum for the life-history.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Black-headed Gull - White 2APK

Despite not blogging for a couple of months, recording of colour-ringed birds has been ongoing and we have a number of reports of birds ringed outside Northern Ireland recorded here since the start of January. 

I will try to get reports of them up on the blog over the next couple of weeks.

James O'Neill recorded 2APK at the lake in Castlewellan Forest Park back at the start of January. This is the same site where we recorded a Scottish-ringed bird in January 2013 (see here) and Lithuanian colour-ringed bird in December 2013 (see here). 

We reported this latest sighting to Tom Dougall in Scotland and he confirmed that 2APK had been ringed as a chick at a colony at Moorfoot Hills, Scottish Borders in June 2015. 

Red - Moorfoot Hills, ringing site
Blue - Castlewellan, re-sighting location

Tom reported that this was the first re-sighting of this bird away from the natal colony and one of the few sightings of the 2015 cohort, which was small in size and had a poor fledging success which was attributed to poor weather around the time of hatching.

This is not the first bird from Moorfoot Hills we've recorded in NI (see here).

2APT at Antrim, February 2015
Photo by Gary Platt

Many thanks to James for his report and to Tom for his reply.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

2ABT returns to breeding site

Many thanks to Stephen Foster for sending through this photo of 2ABT at Sandy Bay, Larne Lough. 

This bird was ringed by Kerry Leonard at Ballyholme in January 2013 and, thanks to the colour-ring, we have established it breeds at Larne Lough and returns to Ballyholme each winter.

Photo by Stephen Foster

Monday, 6 March 2017

Black-headed Gull - Green JZ20

Robin Vage got in touch last month with reports of large numbers of gulls at Corbet Lough, Co. Down.

This site normally has a small wintering flock of 20-30 birds, but numbers had swollen to a couple of thousand at the start of February and it seemed inevitable that something interesting was going to turn up.

As well as a returning Lesser Black-backed and a Mediterranean Gull, two birds with NI colour-rings were recorded. In addition, Robin recorded a Black-headed Gull with a green colour-ring and another with a white colour-ring.

Colour-ringed BHG at centre of shot
Photo by Robin Vage

Robin reported his sightings and heard back that the green ringed bird, JZ20, had been ringed as an adult female in April 2016 at Engervannet, Sandvika in Norway.

Green - Engervannet, Norway
Blue - Corbet, Co. Down

It was re-sighted nearby the following day, but this was the first report since.

Great work by Robin and many thanks to him for passing on the information.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

NI Seabird Report 2016 - Full report

Kerry Leonard, BTO NI Seabird Coordinator, has kindly sent me a link to the full report which is now available via the BTO website.

Full list of papers included in the report:

  • Breeding Seabirds in Northern Ireland in 2016 (Kerry Leonard)
  • The East Coast (Northern Ireland) Marine SPA (Neil McCulloch)
  • 2016 - Record Year for Larne Lough Islands (Matthew Tickner & Shane Wolsey)
  • Establishing a Puffin Colony on the Copeland Islands (Shane Wolsey & Wesley Smyth)
  • Lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB Nature Reserve Seabird Resport 2016 (Brad Robson)
  • Monitoring Gulls and Terns on Lough Neagh (Bob Davidson & Stephen Foster)

You can get a copy of the report by clinking HERE.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Northern Ireland Seabird Report 2016

Well, it has happened again....another unforeseen break from blogging! I've managed to get back earlier than last year and will post some updates soon.

In the meantime, I recently got my hands on a copy of the latest BTO Northern Ireland Seabird Report. The report contains some very useful articles, in particular I was very interested in a paper by Matthew Tickner and Shane Wolsey, "2016 is a Record Year for Larne Lough Islands".

The RSPB-managed Blue Circle Island in Larne Lough is one of our study colonies and I was delighted to read that BCI is now the largest individual Black-headed Gull colony in Ireland with 3,050 AON* in 2016. The total for Larne Lough as a whole was 3,201 AON.

One of our other study colonies, Lough Swilly, was also in the top 5 sites in Ireland (see below) and of course, the colony at WWT Castle Espie falls under Strangford Lough.

It is very interesting and useful for anyone with an interest in ecology and other papers include an overview of breeding seabirds in Northern Ireland in 2016; information on the new East Coast (NI) Marine SPA; establishing a Puffin colony on the Copelands; and updates on monitoring at Lower Lough Erne and Lough Neagh.

Well done to those involved in putting it together!

AON in 2016
Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland
5,798 (over 8 colonies)
Larne Lough, Antrim
Lady's Island, Wexford
Lough Swilly, Donegal
Strangford Lough, Down
Lower Lough Erne, Fermanagh

Cover of 2016 Northern Ireland Seabird Report featuring a fantastic Shag photo taken
by Ronald Surgenor.

*AON - Apparently Occupied Nests