Sunday, 23 July 2017

Dublin Urban Gull Project

Dublin Urban Gull Project.

Gulls are spectacular birds but Urban Gulls seem to get a lot of bad press. However, they do fulfill a vital role in Urban Ecosystem and Herring Gull numbers have declined so quickly in recent years they are now RED listed. Lesser Black Backed and Greater Black Backed Gulls are amber listed. The Ringing Club, that I am a member of, have taken up the challenge of studying them. The Irish Midlands Ringing Group has now colour ringed about 100 large gull pulli, mainly Herring Gulls, over the last 3 weeks in the City Centre of Dublin. We also ringed 145 large Gull Pulli on Ireland's Eye as a control group for comparison.

The ringing of Pulli – Flightless Juveniles or “Chicks” has now come to the end for this nesting season and the task of re-sighting them has commenced.

Our ring sequence runs from 001:D  to 999:D

001:D is called Leo because he was ringed on the Roof of the Dail!

Dublin Great Black Backed Gull 345:D on Irelands Eye.  Pulli - Preflight Juvenile

Large Gulls have never been colour ringed in Dublin City Centre before so we have no data as to their survival, dispersal, usage of particular sites etc. So we have almost 100 coloured ringed Urban raised Gulls to try and locate in Dublin City and see how they fare.

Dublin Gull Project - 025:D near Heuston Station

We will watch the data and the type of questions that we hope to answer from this study over the next few years are the following.
· We know Gulls from Irelands Eye venture into the City, but do the City Gulls venture out to sea? Will they turn up at fishing ports such as Howth or Dun Laoghaire.
· What is their Survival rate?
· Do they move? I know from reading Gull Rings in Dublin that I see Herring Gulls from Scotland and the Isle of Man. Will our Urban controls also move south?
· I also read Gulls From Irelands Eye on Playing Fields and in the Parks of Tallaght, will the urban Gulls also venture away from the Urban City to the Suburbs to feed?
Sightings can be sent to

Sunday, 2 July 2017

July 2017 - E5VA + 27H0 Return yet again

25 July 2017

Today was an excellent day ring reading.  It started in Howth.  15 Cr Rings of the old project were recorded including one new bird, 3EL.  Ringed in 2013.

Great Black Backed Gull 3EL Ringed 2013

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Great Black Backed Gull 1MC.  Usually seen at Broadmeadows.
However there were none of our new red rings, so we went to Irelands Eye, to get some photographs!  Always nice to get another species and this Cormorant obliged!

CR Cormorant AFI on Irelands Eye

22nd July

A short walk in Sean Walsh Park rewarded me with my first sighting of the season of 27H0.  Still in breeding plumage.  Since first sighted as a Juvenile in 2013, it has been an annual regular in the park..

13th July

This year the first Colour Ringed Black Headed Gull to return to Sean Walsh Park is the Dutch Ringed E5VA.  First sighted as a Juvenile in January 2012, it has returned to the same park each year 750 Km from its breeding ground.

4th July 2017

Every Tuesday in July 6:30 - 8 "Tern Watch" takes place at Collimore Harbour.  This event allows the public to view the Terns nesting with more experienced Birders to point out the Terns and all the other birds on show like Shearwaters.  En-route I stopped at Bullock Harbour.  I am glad I did as two CR Ringed Gulls were present.  It was a first sighting of 2LH for 2017 and the Herring Gull T9YF is from the Isle of Man.  Ringed in 2014, it has been recorded in Dublin in 2015,2016 and now 2017.

Herring Gull from Isle of Man - Not quite full adult.  In ringing terms it is a 9, 3rd Calander year.

2nd July 2017

A quick trip to Sandycove to see if the Mediterranean Gulls have started arriving in large numbers.  There were .8 adults - no juveniles yet.  3 colour ringed - all ringed in Dublin.

1st July 2017

Today I took the boat trip to the Island of Ireland's Eye, as always I was also on the look out for coloured rings.  Among those I recorded was a Great Black Backed Gull with Blue Ring 1NA.  This was a Gull that I hadn't seen since 2013!  Whereas, most I record in (Howth 2km away), there are always some who are never or rarely recorded there.

Great Black backed Gull 1NA (and its chick).

Great Black Backed Gull 1NA in September 2013

Saturday, 24 June 2017

June 2017 - 1st Med Ring

29th June 2017

Today at Howth, we were reading coloured rings on Large Gulls.  What a successful day!  5 Herring Gull and 9 Great Black Backed Gulls with Blue "Irelands Eye" rings.   1ES was ringed in 2010 and this was my first sighting despite 5 years or regular visits.  2AV was only the  2nd sighting and the first since 2014!
GBBGU 1ES - My first sighting since ringed in 2010

GBBGU 2AV - Only the 2nd sighting since ringed in 2009!

GBBGU 3JU - 6 sightings since ringed in 2015

GBBGU 1PH - Only the second sighting since ringed
In contrast I recorded 1UK, although the same age, there are 42 entries on the data base for that GBBGU which is more normal.

25 June 2017

Today at Bullock Harbour there were no Mediterranean Gulls recorded.  I did however spot a Great Black Backed Gull way out on the rocks.  Ringed on Irelands Eye, an Island off the Dublin Coast in 2012, I had seen it 20 times previously but not since May 2016!  Glad to see it is still around.

24 June 2017

First Med Gull ring of the Season. White E147.  This Belguim Mediterranean Gull was ringed in 2011 as an Adult.  Seen annually in Sandycove and surrounding Parks.  I have recorded it many times.  Great to see it back for another Winter.  I think it is the first time it has been recorded in Bray Co Wicklow.
Mediterranean Gull E147

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

May 2017 - My 1st + 2nd CR Grey Heron

May 27th

After glorious weather on Thursday and Friday, Saturday was a wash out.  However, after checking some nests I went to Howth.  I recorded 7 Darvic rings on Great Black Backed Gulls and Herring Gulls.
 GBBGU 2CR was ringed in 2009.  It should be nesting but seemed to be still pairing up.

However, bird of the day was 3CA,  Although a locally ringed Gull, it was last recorded in Boatstrand , Waterford.  That is 162Km away.

May 21st

Another nest was hatched today on my rounds of Swan Nests.  The 2nd Naas Nest.

May 20th

The nesting Census is changing daily with 18 monitored nests hatched to date.  However, I am always on the look out for anything with a CR Ring.  Today I spotted my 2nd CR Heron.  Orange Ring K14
Heron K14 on the River Liffey 
At Broadmeadows Estuary I photographed this 3cy Herring Gull with an Isle of Man Ring. I photographed it from near where the photo of the swans below was taken.  You can see the gulls out on the mud bank.  The photo isn't great but the ring is legible.  T5YF

At Broadmeadows I read 50 rings and no new Swans to add to the annual survival project or RAS. In the photo below the Swan in the middle has no rings!!  Where did it come from!

May 13th

My days are spent checking Mute Swan nests and counting Cygnets!  7 Nest sites checked today and two more have hatched during the week.  I also followed up on a tip and located the nest of CASP and CASZ.  I hadn't seen this pair since they were going up and down the Canal looking for a nesting site in March, so good to find where they are nesting.

Grand Canal - The Park West nest has hatched.  

May 7th

Still busy reading Swan rings for my RAS project.  Even at Broadmeadows, I am still re sighting one or two new Swans at each visit to that location.
MUTE SWAN CAPV at Broadmeadows
There was a big twitch on the far side of the Estuary with a Marsh Sandpiper showing very well. Both photos taken with the Nikon P900

May 1st

Out and about checking Mute Swan Nests in Dublin.  Another couple of nests have hatched.  However my CR bird of the day was a Heron.  My club have been Colour Ringing them for a few months, but this is the first observation away from the ringing site.

CR Heron in Dublin on the Royal Canal

Heron Orange K00

Cygnets on the Royal Canal at Shandon Gardens.
Finished off a glorious day in Broadmeadows and Colour Ringed another 6 Mute Swans.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

April 2017 - Mute Swan Cygnets April 24th

April 29th 

A busy day checking Mute Swan nests, but still only 3 nests hatched,  which is normal for the end of April.

However, a visit to Howth, produced a surprising ring sighting.  In 2013, I colour ringed 4 Great Black Backed Gull Pullus.  I had not seen any of them since today.  Great Black Backed Gull, 3EK made a very brief and very welcome appearance.

Larus Marinus, Great Black Backed Gull at Howth Harbour.

April 24th

First Cygnets were Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght, where all 8 eggs have hatched.

April 22nd

This month has been Swans Swans and More Swans.  Reports of nests and our yellow coloured ringed Mute Swans are most welcome. 
However, while out and about I am always on the look out for birds from other projects.  Today at Broadmeadows there were lots of Common Sandpipers including this Coloured Ringed individual.

/OM/ /RR/ Common Sandpiper at Broadmeadows
At Balbriggan where I was looking for an apparent resident pair of Swans, I had no luck with the Swans but I did record this Great Black backed Gull.

Ringed in 2013 on Irelands Eye, I haven'r recorded it since 2014!  All other sightings have been at Howth Harbour.


The Cormorant that I read the metal ring of last month has come back at ringed 06/06/2002 on Lambay Island off the north Dublin coast. 32Km from ringing site.  Once again it was ringed by Oscar Merne.

April 2nd

A RAS (Retrapping Adults for Survival) is a methodology, where annual adult survival rates can be calculated.  As we use coloured rings we don't have to re trap any swan, we can just read the rings.  From April 1st to September 31st, I (with the assistance of a team of ring readers) try and record every Swan in the survey area.  Saturday was day one, and although I saw a lot of swans most were in long grass on the island at Broadmeadows.

Mute Swans at Broadmeadows
Using my new Nikon P900 meant that I got rings read, a few more that just using my old 500mm lens, but the battery like all new electronics doesn't last and today I went out and bought a 2nd battery!

I also visited Howth as I was quite near.  I was now using my old camera - Lucky I had a back up! Only 7 rings read.  I think all the adults are either on Nests or holding territory.
Light Bellied Brent on the Islands at Broadmeadows.
 I went back to Broadmeadows and read some more Swans.  They were slightly more obliging .  I also read some Brent.  This one HXRB hadn't been recorded in Dublin this year.  Ringed in 2007, it's life history is relatively short compared to most Brent
Mute Swans on the Grand Canal
An afternoon trip to the Grand Canal and another 10 read.  I also got reports from Bray and Newbridge, so 61 Swans recorded by day 2.  Hopefully another 200 to follow!

Monday, 13 March 2017

March 2017 - BTO Cormorant

March 18th

Brent Geese appear more common in North Dublin.  I was out at my boys football match and stopped briefly.  Photographed 14 sets of rings (from the car) in only a few minutes before I had to carry on.

View from the car where I photographed the rings on the Brent!

In the afternoon I had half an hour at Bullock Harbour.  Two colour ringed Great Black Backed Gulls.  1JK was at Howth in February.
Great Black Backed Gull 1JK
 However, 2KV is bird of the day.  This Great Black backed Gull was ringed in 2009 on Irelands eye.  I only saw it once last year, so great to see it alive and well.
Great Black Backed Gull 2KV

March 17th - St Patricks Day

Swan ringing again this morning!

March 13th

It has been very quiet on the ring reading front, partly due to my own ringing activities and time spent trying to locate Mute Swan nests.  Today there were Cormorants, as usual, at Grange Castle Business Park. One was metal ringed and although it was standing on the weir in the center of the lake I have a new camera, a Nikon P900.  This gives me more Zoom (x84).  So I went about walking around the lake photographing it from every angle.  Bingo - Full code read.  With this new ability to read Cormorant rings at 30m I will be able to see if the same Cormorants use this lake annually or are they just passing through.
Cormorant with BTO ring 5225726

Saturday, 18 February 2017

February 2017 - Early Swan Nesting

27th February

Herring Gull LBBW[0LP] is in Tallaght.  What is interesting is that this is a Pelagic nesting Herring Gull as opposed to an Urban nesting Herring Gull. This is another sighting of an Irelands Eye Herring Gull at this location and it is 10km to the coast and 22km from Irelands Eye.  

26th February

It is only February and already the first Swan egg has been laid!

First Mute Swan nest of the Season, already with 1 egg!

Mute Swan CABA is first Swan recorded nesting in 2017
Mute Swan LBYN[CABA] : A Brief History

CABA nested in Tymon Park in 2015 and with CAAT and successfully raised cygnets.
In 2015 CAAT was killed (in a territorial dispute). 
In 2016, CABA nested with an un-ringed female at a different location in Tymon Park, and although cygnets hatched they were all gone the following week.  CABA and an un-ringed female (could be the same one) are in a new location 6km away.  Nest Record Card already started!

Black Headed Gulls
The increase of my sightings of Norwegian Black Headed Gulls, I believe, is down to the increase of Coloured Ringing in Norway.  Their reporting system, which gives the reporter instant access to life histories, but does not require individual replies, allows the ringers to colour ring in large numbers without being inundated with sightings to reply to.  However, I am still the first person to see J5TZ in Ireland.  

With the Great Black Backed Gulls there have been two interesting sightings.  1PH is a code that would have been used in 2012.  I didn't know the code had been used until an adult was photographed at Howth

Great Black Backed Gull 1PH

The Great Black Backed Gull 1JK was not reported at all last year but has turned up this year.
Nice to know it is still alive.  

18th February

I am not ring watching at the moment due to small injury but I am so lucky that other fantastic observers are sending me in reports of their sightings.  I also got this superb photo from Michael Linehan today of our project Swan CAPX taking off at Broadmeadows, Swords.
Mute Swan CAPX - Photo rights Michael Linehan