Wednesday 2 January 2019

Colour Ringed Gulls and Waders

Throughout the season when we are out and about we pick up a few colour ringed birds, some of which are familiar to us and most new birds. There are plenty more metal ringed birds, particularly terns, which slip through without being identified.

I'm always particularly keen on colour-ringed birds in the Bann Estuary and the first of these was just so - a Sanderling. G4YWBG was ringed in south-west Iceland near Sandgerði on the 22nd of May 2016, presumably on route north to its breeding grounds. The colour rings were resighted by Wilbert McIlmoyle on the 23rd of this month and two days later by Gary Platt around the Barmouth at a minimum distance of 824 miles. These Sanderling generally originate from Greenland, possibly from the Canadian High Arctic. 

 Movement of Sanderling G4YWBG
Sanderling G4YWBG (image by Wilbert McIlmoyle)

The next Sanderling G1RRYW was ringed on the 10th May 2011in south-west at Sandgerði Iceland where it was seen a year later. Two years later it appeared in north-east Iceland near Grjotnes. In May 2017 it was sighted in South Uist, Scotland before appearing in the Bann Estuary the following winter. In 2018 it has been sighted a few times around the Bann Estuary and Magilligan Point. 

The final Sanderling, G4BBYY was ringed on the 24th of May 2016 SW Iceland, very close to the first bird and only two days apart. It's most recent sighting was by me on the 10th of October 2018 at Ramore Head, Portrush.  It was recorded a few times around Portush and Portballintrae both this winter and last winter before being recorded. It was seen again in Iceland in May 2018 and sighted on North Uist Scotland on the 4th of August on its way south. 

The location of the Sanderling on Ramore Head, Portrush - the best spot on the north coast for Purple Sandpipers also!

If you find any colour-ringed Sanderlings please check out -

Oystercatcher OW-Gr(PY) has returned to the Bann Estuary after spending a few weeks there between the 23rd September and 5th of October last year. The bird was originally ringed as a chick on 23rd June 2017, also near Sandgerði in SW Iceland. I picked the bird up again from 14th of September this year and seen it on a few more occasions in the following weeks. I received an email from Gary Platt today saying that he had sighted the bird 4 days ago in the same spot.

Oystercatcher OW-Gr(PY)

One of the most interesting sightings was of a German ringed Mediterranean Gull which was sighted first by Steve and then by John 2 days later but surprisingly some 35 miles apart. Steve sighted the bird at Lough Shore Park in Antrim on the shore of Lough Neagh on the 30th of July before it upped sticks and moved up to Coleraine along the Lower Bann River (a c43 mile journey by river).

The bird was ringed as a chick at Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Germany (c95 miles SSW of Berlin) on the 25th of June 2018, roughly 835 miles from Coleraine and only 54 days after ringing.

Along the Lower Bann River in Coleraine (and McDonalds) has been quite productive for colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls and it has yet again produced another two birds. The first was another Icelandic bird from Brekka, Álftanes, Kjósarsýsla - ringed as a chick on the 16th June 2017.
This one was a metal ring read by John on the 8th of March. 

The second Black-headed Gull was a Norweigan bird who is used to spending winters in sunnier climes in Spain. It was ringed as a chick in Boganesholmane, Stavanger, Norway on the 19th of June 2015, resighted close to home in both 2017 and 2018. It spent the winters of 2016 and 2017 in Santander, Spain and was likely on route when sighted by John in Coleraine.
Life history below - 

Date Place Coordinates Observers Days/km/°
19.06 2015 Boganesholmane, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
06.07 2015 Grudavatnet, Klepp, Rogaland, Norway
25.01 2016 Limpias, Santander, Spain
21.05 2017  Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
12.06 2017 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
12.06 2017 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
27.06 2017 Holme SV Jåttåholmen, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
05.07 2017 Holme SV for Jåttåholmen, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
20.01 2018 Limpias, Cantabria, Santander, Spain
07.06 2018 Hanaslippen, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
10.06 2018 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
18.06 2018 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
09.07 2018 Vågen vgs, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
09.08 2018 Strand Road (Jetty), Coleraine, Londonderry, Great Britain

Gary Platt and Adam McClure have been keeping us updated with our Black-headed Gulls from Inch Island in Donegal. So far, five of the 2016 recruits have been re-encountered, four within Northern Ireland. The first lot in this year were metal ringed only, with a number of birds being colour ringed on the second visit. To keep up to date with colour ring reading across Northern Ireland, particularly gulls - check out Gary Platt's blog here -

Black-headed Gull Orange 2ATJ was sighted by Gary himself on the Kinnegar Shore, Belfast Lough on the 11th of March 2018. It was ringed on the 31st of May 2016 and a colour ring added 8 days later.

Black-headed Gull Orange 2BRP made it over to Bracknell Forest near Reading, England but was found in unfortunate circumstances - fresh dead in a horse water trough on the 14th of July this year. It was ringed 25 months before. Given the time of year, it was possibly going to breed here.

EZ61022 appeared at McDonalds, Coleraine on the 17th & 31st of October 2016 having been ringed on the 31st May 2016.

Black-headed Gull (Gary Platt)

Orange 2AXT was sighted at Millquarter Bay, Co. Down (missing the date), ringed on the 8th May 2016,

Black-headed Gull (Gary Platt)

The last Black-headed Gull was a partial metal ring read of EZ610-- at Portrush. The digits gathered are sufficient to say that it was ringed on the 31st May 2016 at Inch.

The final bird was one of our metal ringed Curlews that was resighted by one of the local photographers, Mervyn Campbell, just in front of the Bann Estuary bird hide. The bird was ringed on the 25th of August last year in Grangemore 1.1km away and was photographed on the 9th and 24th of August. We don't have any local breeding Curlew so who knows where this bird was over the breeding season.

Curlew (image by Mervyn Campbell)

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