Saturday, 3 February 2018

February 2018- Ice today

28th February

Despite the heavy snow I went to Sean Walsh Park at Lunch Time.  The chance of seeing all the Gulls on the frozen lakes couldn't be missed.

Only 2 colour rings read but it was worth it.  Black-headed Gull NUT was present.  I used to see it in the park but it is almost 4 years since I last recorded it!!!!!!!!!  Ringed in 2005 in Denmark as a 3years + adult.  This makes it at least 16 years old!

25th February

Booterstown Strand today and compared with yesterday there was so much disturbance it wasn't nearly as successful.  I went with a few hopeful objectives.  Would the Black Brant be back.  Could I relocate the foreign ringed Oystercatchers?  Could I eventually read a Knot flag?  There is also my principle objectives, could I sight any of our Herring Gull Juveniles with red rings?  The answer to all was no, but all was not lost.  I read some Oystercatchers.

Brent did fly in and out and although there was only one which was colour ringed I did spot some Juveniles which have been thin on the ground.  The Juveniles have white fringes to their feathers.  The un-ringed Brent is the Juvenile in the photo below.

I read a couple of Bar Tailed Godwits.  These are really difficult to read.  Photos taken at 60x zoom from about 40m.  Not great shots but confirmation of the ring codes none the less.  Only two of them I am reporting as the others, the code is partially covered by feathers.

However, none of our Herring Gulls were noted again.  I did read 2 Norwegian Black-headed Gulls and the same Mediterranean Gull as yesterday.  Eleven Rings as opposed to the 20 yesterday. 

24th February

What would be my sighting of the day?  A trip to Booterstown Strand, the tide was right, the Rugby International was on and 3 degrees so hardly anyone out - ideal for ring reading.  I had just started a walk along the beach when 172 Brent landed.  They proceeded to walk over a sand bank in single file so all checked and nine coloured ring combinations recorded. There was a Black Brant in among them.  Great start!

Dark Bellied Brant on left and Pale Bellied on Right.
Brent XTBY

Brent AFBB

Brent SKRB
There were Oystercatchers Roosting all along the beach.  But they roost standing on one leg so many couldn't be read.  Including 2 foreign ringed ones - quite frustrating.  I watched them for 10 minutes before I had to move on and keep my feet warm.
Oystercatchers from foreign schemes

Oystercatcher CF from Dublin Bay Scheme

Oystercatcher A0 from Dublin Bay Scheme
There were 1000's of waders and again although I saw many with coloured rings, I only read one, a bar-tailed Godwit.
Bartailed Godwit FZ
I couldn't read any of the flags on the Knot

CR Knot - Couldn't read the codes!

However bird of the day, but certain'y not photo of the day had to be a Mediterranean Gull in Full Breeding Plumage.  I got better photos of the ring but its head was tucked in.  35L6 is a new sighting for me.

Mediterranean Gull 35L6

22nd February

No new rings sighted in the Park today, just the usual suspects!  However a 3rd Winter Iceland Gull made an appearance.  I annually see Iceland Gulls but only juveniles.  Nice to get an adult!

Iceland Gull in Sean Walsh Park

21st February

Sean Walsh Park at lunch time. At this time of year Gulls start passing through.  First metal ring spotted was a Black Headed Gull from Lithuania.  Ringed in 2014, I first sighted it in March 2016, but have seen it frequently each winter since.

A second Black-headed Gull with a metal ring appeared.  This was a gull I didn't recognise, so out with the camera.  Lost of photos of its foot and the full ring code read.  Denmark 6283168.  This is a Black-Headed Gull I haven't recorded before and certainly hasn't been using this park.

19th February

A quick round up of whats happening in Dublin at the Moment.  I was sick for a while this month so very little birding and no blogging.

Great Black Backed Gulls

Juveniles are just not being observed or reported from Dublin.  However, it is with great excitement that I am getting reports from southern Wales of our Great Black Back juveniles.  Blue 3HH was also  sighted at Bullock Harbour having not been seen since 2014!  Red 342:D was also seen there on February 9th.
3HH unfortunately has fishing line wrapped around its right leg.

Herring Gulls

The Scottish Juvenile A:E85 is observed daily at Sean Walsh Park.  The numbers of or red ringed Juveniles is dropping.  Today there were 50 herring Gulls at Grangecastle Business Park and no red rings again.  The number of Adults however, is increasing.

Mediterranean Gulls 

There are still plenty of Mediterranean Gulls about but rings have been scarce.  They are observed in all the parks in 1's and occasionally 2's.  This is a wonderful time to observe this species as many are almost in breeding plumage

Mediterranean Gull PRN6 from Poland

Black Headed Gulls

So far no great influx or exodus.  However 2ABA seems to have left the local park.  Colour ringed and metal ringed from England, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania are still being read weekly.  March is approaching when the ones which went to Galway will arrive in Dublin on route to breed
Black Headed Gull Green 2ACA ringed in Dublin as a wintering Gull.
Black Headed Gull Y28 from Denmark
Black-headed Gull Y28 has been seen both in Ben Madigan Park and preening in the Grand Canal close by.

Mute Swan

Attempts at nesting have been put on hold for now with the cold weather.  The numbers on the Canal are slowly starting to go down as some move off to establish territories.

Brent Geese

Plenty of Brent turning up in the Parks and on Sandymount strand.  One aspect I never paid much attention to is working out pairs!  (They call them Associates).  Below SURB and NZRB never left each others side while they grazed.

18th February

On the Grand Canal in Drimnagh Herring Gull 264:D was sitting on a roof top and then flew into the Canal to wash. This is usually at Ben Madigan Park and confirms my suspicion that all these Gulls who use the Green areas in Drimnagh also use the Canal to wash and preen.  264:D is from a nest on the rooftops of Dublin.

At Dolphin Road there was a football match, so hardly any birds, but Herring Gull 013:D was sitting on a street light.  This is from an urban nest.

 At Ben Madigan Park there were a small (less than 100) flock of Brent and 4 coloured ringed.  With so many readings from this Green space you would think I would be getting repeat sightings of the same Brent Geese.  However, I have had only one repeat sighting!  BDBY was seen on February 3rd and 18th.

Black Headed Gull from Denmark - White Y28, was sighted again today.   Ringed as an adult in 2011, it had only one Irish sighting until I found it's wintering site.  So far I have had 5 sightings in the past 2 months.

17th February

I went out yesterday with the intention of reading all the Colour Ringed Knot that apparently have been ringed in large numbers in England and are probably now in Dublin.  Found a large flock of a few 1,000 and started going though the individuals.    Flashes of colour were quickly lost in the tightly packed flock.  Eventually, one CR Knot was on the out side and 1 photo just as a red setter ran through the flock.  They settles 500m away but the dog ran straight for them again.  Within 5 minutes there were no birds in sight as the dogs ran further and further up the beach chasing flocks of birds, now joined by a 2nd dog.  The beach is a protected area and although there are signs requiring dog owners to keep dogs under control and it is an offence to allow them chase birds etc but a small proportion of owners don't care. (Rant over)

CR Knot.  Now to find the scheme!

Dogs chasing all the birds on Sandymount strand.

I made the long walk back to the car and at Merrion Gates spotted a CR Redshank from the Dublin Bay project.  Their rings are tiny but I was able to catch the code.

Redshank CD

I drove further down the coast to Booterstown but the small waders were too far out.  A flock of roosting Oystercatchers were blocking the only route out so I read 6 of them that were standing on their right leg!  A 100 Brent flew in and even though I was 150m away my camera captured the rings.
Oystercatcher DP standing on the right leg.

3rd February

I pulled into Dolphin Road on the way home today and read the Brent Goose rings from the comfort and warmth of the car.  Spotted a Red ring on a Herring Gull Red [013:D].  This one is from an urban nest and is yet another first sighting since ringed.

A quick stop at Ben Madigan Park, a place I can check for rings without getting out of the car!  Herring Gull 148:D was present, well at least that one has some site fidelity with this being it's 5th sighting at this location.

2nd February

Confined indoors today with heavy cold.  However, looking recent photos of Gulls without rings I have decided to post the following 2 pictures of a Herring Gull that is certainly not a match for the local variety.  There is a huge variety within the species and despite it's "Dirty Head" which gave me the initial impression of "Smithsonianus", looking at all the books, although it doesn't look like the 3rd winter herring gulls we get, it most probably is!  What is it doing with "Mirrors" on it's primaries.

If any expert wishes to express their opinion, please do so, it is all about learning.

Herring Gull 3rd Winter + Dark Head

Herring Gull, Same bird but in flight for wing pattern.
Herring Gull 3rd Winter - Standard.

1st February

At Grange Castle Business Park, with Herring Gull 005:D being sighted twice, 112:D and 127:D being sighted once, I thought I'd try again at lunch time as repeat sightings start to build up a picture of site fidelity.

On arrival I spotted 1 red ring on a Herring Gull.  Out with the Camera and 054:D.  This is another of the Irelands Eye colony from a coastal Island.  It is also another first sighting since being ringed!  No sign of the others!


  1. Hi Graham,

    Nice set of birds here. And a lovely Iceland. Just a brief comment regarding your 'well marked' herring gull. Personally I see a good number of birds from 2nd year up to sub-adult like this each year. They are dark 'Argenteus' with the occasional one being a 'Argentatus'. I think most are probably just 'Argenteus' from further north, therefore being that bird darker and better marked. While gulling at Rosslare point and beach last year I had many birds like this, with the 1000's of other 'Normal' looking 'Argenteus and Argentatus'.

    We are due an East coast American herring so always worth scrutinising these birds!

    Here's a link to both 'Argenteus and tatus' as sub-adult types. All ages accounted for on this site.


    All the best,

    Cian Cardiff.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I am still looking for my first American Herring Gull! Graham

  2. Hi again,

    Do you have any more images of the brant type from the side? Hard to say what exactly this bird is from this front view. Looks promising for a brant of some sort! Nice one.


  3. Hey Graham,

    The above gull that you have labbeled as 'probable Yellow-legged' is in fact the bird you found back in 2013 that was identified as a Caspain, but would appear to bea hybrid. Maybe even a Caspian hybrid of some sort. A very interesting bird!