Saturday, 2 September 2017

September - CR Kittiwake, CR LBBGU and CR Oystercatcher

September 19th

In the parks of Tallaght, no new gull rings this week so far.  However, Black Headed Gull 27H0 is there most days.

However, while checking on Cygnet numbers at Ballycragh Park, I spotted some Mediterranean Gulls.  When checking these out I spotted a Black Headed Gull with a white Ring.  It was E5VA.  This Dutch bird was a regular in Sean Walsh Park in 2012 and 2013.  Since then it has only been seen once or twice a year at that location.  I will have to keep a watch on Ballycragh Park to see if it a regular there.

September 17th evening

I took a walk on Booterstown Strand this evening and although I read some CR Med Gulls, two things were of particular interest.  There was a Golden Plover on the beach!  I have never seen one so far away from cover.  A Black Headed Gull was spotted.  Another Polish one !

September 17th 

For 4 years I have been studying the Swans of Dublin and Wicklow.  I have been ringing and reading metal rings.  Then today, at Bray, a Swan, I have never seen before, swam in to the harbour with 6 grown cygnets.  The ring was probably put on in 2007, but I thought I knew all 60 nesting pairs! They continue to surprise me.

Family of Swans arriving at Bray.

ZZ6602 - Where have you been hiding all these years?

At Bullock Harbour this afternoon, there were large number of Large Gulls.  However, none of our red rings among the juveniles.  Apart from a Great Black-backed Gull 2LH and a med gull, there were no coloured rings to read.  Nice to see AKAJ back at Bullock for yet another season.

Due to a technical problem, I have received no emails to my Eircom address from 13th - 16th of September.  If you haven't received a reply within 48 hours, please resend!

Mediterranean Gull - AKAJ Germany

September 16th AM

Broadmeadows Estuary, quick stop.  Swan numbers appear well down this week.  The big movement has started. Certainly the 110 looks to have dropped to below 70.  Always difficult to count as some could be on the Islands or moved to the outer Estuary.

I did spot a CR Oystercatcher run across a sand bank.  Mad scramble to get camera out before it went back into the water.  Just as well, at 50 m I could see Orange over white.  The photo showed an inscription!
Bruce Lynch of the Tay Ringing Group quickly responded to me reporting it and confirmed it is Scottish.

September 11th

Sean Walsh Park and the first of the urban Gulls to appear!

September 10th

Instead of going to Booterstown Strand I went to Sandymount Strand 1km north (Nearer Dublin City Center).  Good numbers of Black Headed Gulls 1,000+.  Surely I must get a coloured ring among them? Eventually I spotted just one.  A yellow ring from Belguim.  Not having sighted this one before I assume it was only ringed this summer as an adult.  I await the report.

Black Headed Gull from Belguim.  Yellow ESVL.

September 9th

The Mute Swans are on the move, with 7 on the Grand Canal, 10 at Bull Island. Most of those read are from Broadmeadows, but the next 3 weeks will be busy completing the 2017 annual survival figures.  Today I read one new Colour Ringed Swan on the Canal.
My I-Webs count finishes at the Grand Canal Basin.  There was a Chinese Dragon Boat race about to start so less Gulls than usual.  But among the Herring Gull Juveniles was a Great Black Backed Juvenile with a Red Ring. 312:D.  However, it is not from Irelands Eye.  It was ringed as a Pullus on the roof of the Dáil!

Great Black Backed Gull.  Urban Gull from the Dáil roof.

September 2nd

Went out ring reading with a friend Sean this evening.  Stopping at Heuston Station, I quickly spotted a yellow ringed Black Headed Gull.  Great start, a new Polish gull.  The online reporting to Poland is quick and efficient.  I already know why I haven't seen this bird before.  It was only ringed as an adult this year.  Mine is the first sighting since ringing.
Black Headed Gull from Poland Yellow T9PC

We were at Heuston Station looking at the mud banks on the Liffey to see if we could see and of our CR Urban Gulls.  Eventually I spotted a Herring Gull Juvenile with one of our rings.

Herring Gull from our Urban Gull Project

We went out to Broadmeadows Estuary and read loads of Swan Rings.  Loads read, but no new to add into the annual survival statistics.  We did spot a Great Black Backed way out on a sand bank.  1NH, I haven't see it since 2014!
Great Black Backed Gull from Irelands Eye

Sean also spotted one of our Irelands Eye Herring Gulls, again way out on a sand bank 174:D

We went on to Gormanstown Beach as Med Gulls are being reported from here.  No Med Gull rings recorded but scanning from the car park there were two Great Black Backed Gulls with Blue rings.  Too far away to read.  These were not located again but soon two other CR Birds showed themselves.  The first, among the 100 Black Legged Kittiwakes was the following juvenile.  Dreadful photobelow but the only one showing the lime ring.  Some projects are run by enthusiastic and efficient co-ordinators and this kittiwake project is one of those.   Jean-Yves Monnat has already confirmed it one of theirs from Finistere in Brittany. (The most western point of France),  and sent me the life history to date.
CR Black Legged Kittiwake
However, most of the time was trying to read a Lesser Black Backed Gull.  It kept moving behind other birds.  We were unsure of the code but in looking back on the photos I believe it is YE41 which makes it from Iceland!  A first for me both for CR LBBGU and 1st CR Gull from Iceland.

UPDATE:  04/09/2017

Received interesting and prompt reply from  Gudmundur A. Gudmundsson of the Icelandic Ringing Scheme, confirmed as an Icelandic Ringed Lesser Black Backed Gull.  However, since being ringed as a Chick it has never been recorded back in Iceland.  All sighting since it has been ringed were in Spain or Portugal and it hasn't been recorded for 5 years.  It is now 10 years old. Great result.

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Lesser Black Backed Gull from Iceland

Unfortunately, there was a German Juvenile Black Headed Gull that as we were trying to confirm a sand buggy roared through the flock and put everything out to sea.  Each time they started to come ashore it roared through the flocks again and again so we had to call it a night.  Fantastic evening ring reading.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August - Two new Black Headed Gulls

August 26th

This morning in Tymon Park my boys were heading to the forest playground when I spotted a metal on a Black Headed Gull.  40 photos later!  Upside down ring read!  EH11506 was ringed in 2004 in Derbyshire.  I hadn't seen it since 2013!!!!

August 24th

Last night I went for an evening walk in Wexford Town.  I spotted 20 gulls on a roof and one carried a Green Norwegian Ring!  Ringed in 2014, mine was the first sighting outside Norway.

August 23rd

I was away for a week on a family holiday, but couldn't drive past Duncannon Beach without a quick look!  Only 100 Gulls on the beach.  Quick scan and 2 Mediterranean Gulls and 1 with a CR Ring. This is a 2nd year French Gull and was seen last year on the same beach.

August 19th

The month has been spent looking at Juvenile Gulls from the mixed colonies and for my own education brushing up on Juvenile ID skills!  It is one thing to say Juvenile Lesser Black Backed Gull or Juvenile Herring Gull, but explaining why requires reading up.  

This Juvenile was darker than the other Herring Gull Juveniles and I would have just said Lesser Black Backed Gull, but some Herring Gulls are considerably darker than others.  Most of the books use Dutch and Scandanavian birds as examples and they are very slightly different
Firstly, the Tertial feathers are interesting.  They have a dark center, "with tips edged with white that don't go as far as the greater coverts".  A classic feature of Lesser Black Backed  Gull.  The bill is also classic "dark to the base" although not a defining feature in August.  (By October the Herring Gulls will have developed a lighter base to the bill).  Add the overall appearance of Scales and I reported it as a Lesser Black Backed Gull.  It refuses to fly from where it stood so I never got a wings open shot!  Email me if I got this one wrong!!!

Lesser Black Backed Gull 244:D

A Herring Gull landed near it for comparison.  

August 6th

I went to Broadmeadows, to read some swan rings.  However, I spotted a Black Headed Gull with a white Darvic.  It is from Holland and I have not seen it before. The Dutch are now requesting that sightings are submitted on line.  This I have done and I am now waiting for the sighting to be authenticated.

20/08/2017 Received a nice reply and life history from Date Lutterop in the Netherlands.  EH1Z was ringed last year as a 1CY, so surprised it either wasn't reported last year or wasn't here last year.

Of the 30 Swans read at Broadmeadows, there were none I haven't seen this season.  However, while looking for missing individuals today, I recorded  CAJJ in Coolock, where it was ringed.  It hasn't been seen in over a year and I thought that as it has a deformed bill that it may have perished.  However, it seems to be doing fine.

Mute Swan with under bill and photo of ring. ( It has had deformity since it hatched)
Either of these two could have been my bird of the day, however I stopped at the base of the East wall.  Laods of Terns and Gulls sit out on the railings.  Scanning these more than half were metal ringed.  One metal seemed taller so out with the camera and it was actually a Darvic Ring.  Glad I was able to read it as it was 25m away!
Common Terns

More terns on the railings

Common Tern PZK.  Terns are small birds and their Darvics are tiny!

August 5th

The juvenile large gulls are now appearing every where I look!  This morning at Grand Canal Basin there were two - both Herring Gulls.
Herring Gull 024:D at Grand Canal Basin this morning.  Urban Chick

Herring Gull 061:D at Grand Canal Basin.  Urban Chick

Bullock Harbour + Red Ring Herring Gull 130:D
 However my bird of the day was a metal ringed black headed gull from Sweden!  6214578 has been a regular since I started ring reading in 2012.  Having hatched in 2005 it is now 12 years old and doing well.

August 2nd

Today in Sean Walsh Park there were two Black Headed Gulls with Metal Rings!  This confused me at first.  There are good numbers present on some days but these are mainly birds passing through.  New Black Headed Gull today EW55882.  A BTO ring so it could be from anywhere in Ireland or the UK.  The second gull ended in 6943, I hope it stays around for another day so I can read the rest of the ring!

Friday, 28 July 2017

July - 2nd Post

29th July

On Sandymount strand today, the Black-headed Gull E5VA showed up.  I also read 9 Oystercatcher rings, 5 Mediterranean Gulls (Including HK36 from Hungary) and the best of the day was one of the new Herring Gulls.  All very far away for good photos, but here are a few.

Black Headed Gull E5VA from Holland

Med Gull 3KPT also from Holland

Oystercatcher HD Ringed in Dublin

Herring Gull 016:D

25th July

The Colour ringed Juvenile Gulls have so far not moved very far from their nest sites.  I have recorded a couple on the Liffey, but only a few 100m from where they were ringed.  This is to be expected.  I went out to Ireland's Eye to see how they are getting on and to get some photographs to publicise the project.  A friend Tonya  went with me so some of the photos are hers.

King of the hill!  Great Black Backed Gull 326:D

Great Black Backed Gull 340:D

Great Black Backed Gull and Juvenile 348:D

Photographing behaviour shows who is related to who.

Herring Gull 078:D

Herring Gull 112:D

Herring Gull 173:D
Photo by Tonya

Photo by Tonya

Photo by Tonya

Photo by Tonya 

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