|First Common Gull Chicks Colour-ringed|
I visited Rathlin Island on the 17th and 24th June, to begin my new venture, colour-ringing Common Gull chicks. During the two visits, a total of 36 youngsters have now been rung with 'Blue Darvics', with 4 smaller chicks being fitted only with 'metal-rings'.
I had planned to revisit the island on Sunday 18th June as well, but was swayed by a boat trip to Ailsa Craig in Scotland, this having been called off on a number of occasions for weather reasons. That trip, turned out to cost me, another 20 to 25 youngsters, which were on the verge of flying by the time of my second visit to Rathlin on the 24th June.
A fair number of nests containing eggs, were also found during my visit on the 24th June. These are likely to belong to pairs which had lost their first eggs or chicks, with a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls being the cause. I plan to make a final visit in mid July and hopefully will reach my target of 50 'colour-ringed' chicks on Rathlin Island.
A photograph appeared on Twitter, on Wednesday 21st June, showing three of the Common Gull youngsters that had been colour-ringed on the 17th, at Rue Point.
Away from Rathlin Island, I had hoped to 'colour-ring' another 50 young Common Gulls at east County Antrim sites. The series of small lochans above the village of Carnlough, have no nesting Common Gulls. Back in the 80's, 10 to 15 pairs were nesting on them.
At Loch Galboly, which also lies high up on the Garron Plateau, 22 adult Common Gulls were counted, but only 4 small chicks were found - not even old enough for a 'metal-ring'. This site had 14 large chicks in July last year. It looks as if the poor weather since late May, into early June, has taken it's toll on these upland nesters.
At the coastal village of Waterfoot, 5 pairs of Common Gulls were spotted and all gave off alarm calls. However, I think only a single pair are actually nesting, but I cannot find chicks so far.
The small island at Torr Head, has not been visited as yet. For safety reasons, I need someone to be present, as this island can be tricky to get on to. Around 20 pairs of Common Gulls are known to nest here.
All in all, it is now very unlikely that I'll reach the 100 target that I was hoping for. Perhaps, the total of 'colour-ringed' chicks will lie between 60 and 70, by the end of July.
Ringed at Rue Point, Rathlin Island - Photo appeared on Twitter on the 21st June
While visiting Antrim Marina on the 25th June, to record any of Adam's colour-ringed Black-headed gulls, I spotted Common Gull - 2AJP again. I reported on this gull in my last post.
Common Gull - 2AJP - Antrim Marina, County Antrim (25 Jun 2017)