Tag Archive | bird

Trading Norway for Northern Ireland

Another colour-ring read, another piece added to a puzzle. Personally, it offers me a better understanding and a reinforcement of the science I read. Getting out there, seeing evidence of migration in action, makes it so much easier for me to understand and get to grips with. Colour-ringing and the subsequent ring reading (here’s where I come in) allows me to play a small part in a bigger project. I feel like part of a team.

Belfast Harbour

Belfast Harbour  where the gulls lined up nicely!

After a day spent indoors, watching the first round of the Irish Bouldering League in Belfast, I convinced Rasmus to pop by Belfast harbour to spend an hour or so outside. After a quick visit to the RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve which was filled with ducks and godwits, (well worth a visit by the way) I spied a gang of gulls loitering (also known as roosting) on a metal railing at the side of the road, close to the harbour. Armed with not one, but two scopes, we scanned standing legs for colour.

Black Headed Gull, Belfast

Black Headed Gull, J4U6 roosting on one leg (the one I want to see, luckily) in Belfast Harbour, October 2015

Our efforts were rewarded. We edged closer and read a single colour-ringed Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus – a white ring with black lettering J4U6. I soon found out from the local gull guy that this bird belonged to a Norweigan ringing scheme and send off the details.

Map

J4U6 was ringed in southern Norway (blue) and re-sighted in Belfast Harbour (red) ca. 840km away

After a little wait, I found out that J4U6 was ringed in March 2012 in Rogaland in southern Norway. Between April and June 2015 he was spotted seven times in southern Norway. This sighting in Belfast Harbour is the first time he has been spotted out of Norway. Maybe he will stick around and enjoy the mild weather we are having! For more on colour-ring reading – here’s a piece I wrote on the Dublin Bay Bird Project #DubBayBirds.

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Learning to read again

Over the last month or two, I have been learning to read again, but in a whole different way – reading colour rings on birds legs! A bit of a specialised skill, I must admit, which involves spending a considerable amount of time standing in one place, staring at birds’ legs through a powerful telescope, looking for coloured bands, which sometimes have letters / numbers inscribed on the ring. It’s a tad embarrassing, but I do get a rush of excitement when I spot a colour ring and huge satisfaction when I finally get all the details! If you are wondering WHY birds get bling like this the BTO explains it all here. And if you happen to see a bird with bling, please tell someone about it – here’s how.

oMEATH

The view from behind the scope at Omeath, looking across Carlingford Louth towards the Mourne Mountains

At Omeath, on the south side of Carlingford lough, close to the newly established Greenway, which I must find time to explore properly, I stopped to examine a mixed flock of birds roosting (chilling out, pruning etc.) at the waters edge. I scanned through the birds and was thrilled to spot a blue colour ring on a Common Gull (Larus canus), which I eventually read as 2AHX.

COmmon gull colour ring

A poor photo of the Common Gull (Larus canus) 2AHX at Omeath, standing next to an Oystercatcher

I sent the details to Shane Wolsey from the BTO in Northern Ireland and he was able to tell me that 2AHX was ringed on Copeland Island on the 29th of June 2013 as a pullus (chick). This was the first time the bird has been seen since!

Common Gull Details

Common Gull 2AHX ringed at Copeland Island (blue) and re-sighted at Omeath (red) a distance of ca. 84km. 

Just across the water in Warrenpoint, I spied a large gathering of gulls on the roof of a warehouse close to the harbour. Before the morning traffic started, I set up the scope on the footpath in the middle of town and began searching through hundreds of legs for a splash of colour. My heart skipped a beat (is this sad?!) as I spotted a white band on the red-ish leg of a Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus). I edged closer, being careful not to get run over, and with a bit of patience and a lot of luck, I managed to read the ring – T5J4.

BH_white T5J4

Black-headed Gull T5J4 (top right) at Warrenpoint Harbour.

After asking some local ringers which scheme this bird might belong to, details were sent off to the Polish Ringing Scheme in Gdansk. It turns out this bird was ringed on the 5th of June 2011 as a pullus (chick) and has travelled almost 1,550 km to Warrenpoint – the point obviously has a lot to offer! Black-headed gulls which breed in northern Europe and around the Baltic Sea migrate to western Europe (including Ireland and the UK) for the winter. Check out bhgullsni for all the news on Black-headed gulls in Northern Ireland!

Black headed gull map

Black-headed Gull T5J4 ringed in eastern Poland (blue) and re-sighted in Warrenpoint (red) a distance of almost 1,550km. 

Three weeks on

Three weeks ago today we got on a flight from Copenhagen and landed in Dublin. It seemed like any other visit we have made over the last 3 years, but this time, it was a one way ticket. This time we took more luggage, including two bikes. This time, we are here to stay. Almost a month has passed, like a dream. There has been so many new faces, smells, challenges and surprises and so many memories which pop up at unexpected times. But we are taking each day, one at a time, and doing our best to remember why we made the decision to move to Ireland. What it is we want from this chapter in our lives. More family time, more mountain time, more wild time. Here’s my “best of” so far, which involves a lot of family, hills, birds, bikes, a bit of exercise and the odd dead thing.

Maybe we should have brought a Danish one, so we don't forget the colours!?

Maybe we should have brought a Danish one, so we don’t forget the colours!?

Sorting our lives and choosing what to bring was not an easy challenge

Sorting out our lives

Leaving one family to be closer to another, another decision that wasn't easy.

Leaving one family to be closer to another

Jeg glemmer aldrig hvor godt vi havde det på kisumvej med familien

Jeg glemmer aldrig hvor godt vi havde det på kisumvej med familien

Happy to be in Dublin with all our luggage and two bikes!

Happy to be in Dublin with all our luggage and two bikes!

Last step of the journey, taken seriously!

Last step of the journey, taken seriously!

One of our new house mates - Suzie

One of our new house mates – Suzie

Bikes and nails don't really go together!

Bikes and nails don’t really go together!

The bikes have featured heavily in our first 3 weeks, but also some walking

The bikes have featured heavily in our first 3 weeks, but also some walking, when flat tyres appear

Exploring the back roads by bike I fell in love with stone walls all over again!

Exploring the back roads by bike I fell in love with stone walls all over again!

A view and a half!

A view and a half!

Exploring our new local patch at Ravensdale

Exploring our new local patch at Ravensdale

It is a magical place, better than I remember!

It is a magical place, better than I remember!

Exercise out in the open, top of our list

Exercise out in the open, top of our list

Sisterly competition at Dundalk Park Run

Sisterly competition at Dundalk Park Run

Sisters who run, sometimes!

Sisters who run, sometimes!

Some things never change!

Some things never change!

What's a garden without a bird feeder?!

What’s a garden without a bird feeder?!

Keeping busy in the garden

Keeping busy in the garden

DIY table for sunny breakfast, lunch, dinner or a nap!

DIY table for sunny breakfast, lunch, dinner or a nap!

Coastal wander to visit a tern colony, with typical Irish sunshine (showers)

Coastal wander to visit a tern colony, with typical Irish sunshine (showers)

Lunch in the hills

Lunch in the hills, when ever we get the chance

nest

Wonderful finds on the roadside…

dead

An unlucky pygmy shrew, spotted on the road side

Bridge gazing around Ravensdale

Bridge gazing around Ravensdale

You never know what you might see from a bridge!

You never know what you might see from a bridge!

Volunteering with BirdWatch Ireland to meet some people and talk birds!

Volunteering with BirdWatch Ireland to meet some people and talk birds!

Hawthorn, pure perfume!

Hawthorn, the perfume of Irish country lanes!