Tag Archive | winter

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. 

Advertisements

Grey days and flowers

Today was one of those grey days. Last winter, my first in Denmark was full of days where the clouds never really parted. Days where it was hard to tell what time it was, as the light levels never really changed. Those grey days drained the colour out me. I spent a lot of time hunting colour, to escape the greyness. Today I will add a splash of colour to the greyness by posting some of my favourite flower photos from the last year. The autumn will grants us a final splash of colour before the winter arrives. After that I will be visiting the flower shop I fear!

Daisy – always make me smile

Delicate pinks in our garden, a gift from previous residents

Under the trees lives in a carpet of yellow

Taking the colour inside – so important

Delicate blues

Green and yellow, simple

And finally – the flower of the sun – instant happiness