Wednesday, 4 April 2018

April 2018 - Chasing Swans - (Not literally!)

April 15th

Still concentrating on the bachelor Herds of Swans, while I can, as they are moving off the canals and will be gone by May.  As of today I have recorded 129 Colour Ringed individuals out of a target of about 300 before September ends.  From now on it gets more difficult.

CBTK, On the Canal but will soon be back on the Liffey where it's ring will be hard to read.

April 14th

While at Bray reading Swan rings I am always on the look out for colour ringed Gulls and today I spotted briefly another of our Red Rings!  120:D is from an Urban nest in Dublin, again it is a first sighting.


April 11th

It is all about Swans at the moment, but the long staying Scottish Herring Gull is still present in Sean Walsh Park most days


April 5th

I was off work today so went to Swords reading rings.  Glorious day and also ringed 8 new Swans and 2 retraps.  With a friend Tonya we went to Howth Harbour wher we read 12 coloured rings on large Gulls including 4 of our red rings.  Excellent result.

Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull from Irelands Eye, a regular at Howth

Juvenile Herring Gull from Irelands Eye




After Howth we went reading Swan Rings in Parks, as an added bonus we recorded another of our Red Rings in Blanchardstown.  Another first sighting of an Irelands Eye Herring Gull.


April 3rd

So another season is starting, although the Swan nesting is very late this year.

Swan Nest in Sean Walsh Park

April 2nd

Day 2 of the RAS and recording Swans in Bray Harbour.  Just as I was leaving I spotted one of our Gulls!  005:D was ringed on the roof of the Dáil.  It was last recorded at Grangecastle Business Park 26km away in January!


Herring Gull 005:D


April 1st - Mute Swan RAS 

Technically RAS stands for Re-trapping Adults for Survival, however to me it stands for Re-sighting Adults for Survival.  
From April 1st to Sept 30th I try to record one sighting of each colour ringed Swan.  There are over 400 of them scattered over 1500km.  I start with those still on the Canals, as many of these will be gone in the next weeks to either start nesting or to Coastal sites to start their summer moult.  Numbers on the Canal have dwindles in the last few weeks from 86 to 40.  On day one I recorded 34 coloured ringed individuals.  


I watched the Swan courtships and one pair have gone further and built a nest!  They are 3 year olds, a bit young to nest but 3 year olds have been successful so I opened a new nest record for the pair.

In the adjacent green space of Ben Madigan Park, one of our Herring Gulls has returned.  Unrecorded at this location for 6 weeks.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

March 2018 - Gulls are like buses!

31st March 

Tomorrow is the 1st day of my Swan RAS, so today I went looking for Great Black-backed Gulls at Bullock Harbour.  With the breeding season fast approaching, many will be returning to Dublin for the first time since ringing.
First photo is 1VV.  Ringed 2013.  This is sighting no 36 and all have been at Bullock Harbour.


Great Black-backed Gull 3AS was ringed in 2013 and it is my first sighting.  This is to be expected. It may be it's first return to Dublin.

Great Black-backed Gull 3JT.  Looks like a 2014, and another first entry on the data base.

Great Black-backed 1TC, A 2012 ringed Gull.  However this has stayed just south of Dublin and comes to Bullock frequently.  Sighting number 20 on the data base.

This 3rd winter Great Black Backed Gull is from the Isle of Man.  Shortly after I photographed it, it moved on to water and I never got a good photo



29th March

The monitoring of Swan Nesting has started in full.  Early nesters had abandoned nests due to snow but Swans on nests are starting to be found.  1 Ringed Gull today.  The long staying Scottish Herring Gull was again in Sean Walsh Park - sighting #11.


27th March

The Parks are changing with the remaining Black-headed Gulls being mainly Juveniles.  One red ringed Gull spotted today and it was 144:D again.

23rd March

You wait ages and then 2 come along together!  Today in Sean Walsh Park, again there were 100 large Gulls and again I spotted a Red ring 144:D.  Again I hadn't seen this individual for 2 months. Like yesterday, this one was ringed in an urban nest.


22nd March

I was busy in Sean Walsh Park trying to read an Adult Herring Gull metal ring when a red ringed juvenile landed close by.  At last one of ours.  010:D  I hadn't seen this individual for 2 months glad it is still around.  I have been doing sighting reports on our various Gulls from sightings in Wales, Cornwall and Cork.  Delighted to see one in Dublin again!

18th March

The snow is back!  Thankfully not as heavy as two weeks ago but it is March!  Nothing significant until Tymon Park when I saw a Tall metal on a Black-headed Gull.  Out with the camera a 100 photos later the last digit obtained!  I have never seen a Darvic from Finland, but I read a couple of metal rings annually.  I was expecting that it would be ST277.383, but surprised with a new bird. 




13th March

The probable Yellow Legged Gull was in Sean Walsh Park today.

Darker mantle on Yellow Legged Gull on Right.

11th March

I was driving passed Sandyford Inductrial Estate and over 100 large gulls on a roof - Not a single ring among them!



Hens don't have teeth.  Looking for Hens teeth, is looking for something that isn't there.  This is what looking for our 242 red ringed gulls feels like.  I am getting sightings from Arklow (60km south) Northern Ireland (100km North), and Great Black-backed in Wales and Cornwall!  However, I am getting no sightings in Dublin.

Today I did the I-Webs count, postponed from last weekend due to the snow.  I had no sooner started than sitting on a lamppost was a Ringed Billed Gull!


The one that got away was a 2nd CY Black-headed Gull with a  Green ring.  All I could see was the last 2 digits C2.  It flew off and it wasn't relocated.


The count was uneventful, there are still 81 Mute Swans on the Canal, they will probably disperse over the next month. Norwegian Black-headed Gull JC38 was recored at Portobello

At the end of the count I spotted a Herring Gull on a lamp post.  Out with the camera and I recorded the full code.







10th March

Bray Harbour - Usually good for a coloured ring or two.  The Recent storm stripped all the sand from the swimming beach and dumped it in the Harbour.  Contractors were moving it back by the truck load!  The disturbance had only minor effect on the Gulls and Swans.  Read 18 Swan rings excluding the one on a poster for a talk I am giving next Tuesday!



There on the beach was a Glaucous Gull.  It seems that these Arctic Gulls are more common than the Juveniles from Dublin!


On to Bullock Harbour which has been damaged by the storms.  Plenty of Adult Great Black-backed Gulls and two blue rings recorded, but no red rings.

On to Davitt Road and Ben Madigan Park.  No Gull rings recorded but read 18 Mute Swan rings.  40 rings in total read today but still can't find any of our Dublin Gulls - they seem to have vanished with the snow!

9th March

Grangecastle Business Park was for a time a good place to record our Gulls, so I tried this lunch time.  Plenty of Herring Gull Juveniles, in fact plenty of Gulls including another Iceland.  No coloured rings.



8th March

No Colour ringed Gulls today.  The Iceland Gull was among all the Juvenile and Adult Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  But no Dublin Red rings.


7th March

At the Stadium end of the park I spotted a Juvenile Herring Gull with a metal!  Some of the pulli we ringed last year got metal only.  Could I have last found one of our birds?  Out with the camera.  I took a few shots of the ring but I never got within 20m before it took off.  However, I uploaded the photos and considered if I had the full code.  I consulted with Gareth Platt, a fellow ring reader and he is of the same opinion, the code is GV13804.  This is again not a Dublin bird!


GV13804 - Difficult, but not impossible to read with image intensifiers!

6th March

The Park is still white but the ice has receded and no gulls in the usual lake.  On an adjacent roof top I spotted a Green ring.  I assumed it was 2ACA even though it was 60m from its territory.  I took a photo to record this new behavior and realised it was a Norwegian Black Headed Gull.  I walked nearer and took a final photo.  So good is the zoom I was able to read 3 digits of the metal.

There has only been one previous sighting since ringing and that was in Holland.  I wonder if the cold front "The beast from the East" has pushed it further west.  Future sightings will hopefully reveal all.

Black-headed Gull J25X.

5th March

Many areas still frozen but the lakes are beginning to thaw.  However the Gulls are on soft snow and sink quickly, not great for ring reading.  In Sean Walsh Park, at the stadium I spotted the top of a ring sticking up.  I moved to higher ground and photographed the following.


All I could see was ?Y42.  VY42 was ringed in 2014 as a Pullis in Denmark.  I first recorded in in November 2014 at Bray Harbour.  I recorded it again in Sean Walsh Park in March 2016 and again in November 2016.  This is only my 4th sighting in 4 years.

4th March

Bit of a thaw today but still the lakes are frozen.  I stopped into Sean Walsh Park and checked the gulls.  Most were on the water.  I idled a while watching a kingfisher.  Unusual to see one in Winter as they presumably go to the coast, maybe it came back to start nesting and didn't expect snow in March?

Of the gulls standing on the ice only the Black Headed Gull 27H0 was recorded.


3rd March

Snowed in!  Spent most of the day digging my car out - again!  Walked to the shops and stopped in Tymon Park.  The frozen lakes allowed all Gulls to be easily checked and some Swans

Mute Swan CAVI out on the ice.

The find of the day was among the Mediterranean Gulls, a German ring that I hadn't seen before and I don't think has been recorded in Dublin before.  Reply quickly obtained from Andreas, prompt as always.  Ringed as an adult on the Polish Border in 2016.  This was a first sighting since ringed!!

Mediterranean Gull ANJS preening on the ice.

Plenty of other birds around with the snow such as Redwing, Fieldfare and Wigeon
Wigeon on the ice in Tymon Park


1st March - Glaucous Gull - Larus Hyperboreus

The weather continues to deteriorate in Dublin.  The worst snow storm since 1982 is expecting to hit and the government is requesting no one to go out this evening!  However, a quick 10 minute trip to the park at lunchtime and other hardy birders were also out.  The Glaucous Gull didn't disappoint and I am sure most observed it.  The 3rd Winter Iceland was also present and there were 150+ large gulls, Herring, Lesser black-backed and Great Black Backed of all ages and subspecies.  No rings at all observed today but the strong winds and snow meant most were on the water and very few were checked for rings.  With 40cm of snow due tonight, not sure if I can go to work (and the Park) tomorrow.


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!