Life History of White 3P17

Friday, July 30, 2010 Adam Tilt 1 Comments


A couple of days ago I posted a few pictures on here of the Mediterranean Gulls that I had seen gathered at Bracelet Bay near Mumbles. One of the birds I noticed had a coloured ring on its leg so I sent the details off to Barry Stewart to see if he could contact the relevant people to pass on my sighting. Many thanks must go to him as he duly did and I am now in the possession of the life history of White 3P17.

22113 - Mediterranean Gull at Bracelet Bay, Gower

This gull has worked its way through three different ring colours over the years, but it was originally ringed in Antwerpen, Belgium in June 2002. Since then it has visited this corner of Wales on at least three occasions. For me the most fascinating part is that only a couple of weeks ago this bird was in Germany before traveling to Sussex and then finally to Bracelet Bay. I am obviously fully aware of bird migration but this is the first time that I have ever been able to see the detailed history of a bird that I have watched for myself in the wild. I will certainly be keeping my eye out for other ringed birds in the future. My thanks must also go to Camille Duponcheel for supplying the information below. If you happen to see any more ringed Mediterranean Gulls in the area then please pass the details onto her. I can supply the email address if needed.

Summary of rings for
White 3P17

Colour Code of ring Leg Ringing Metal ring Age of bird Ringing date Ringing location Ringer

Bruxelles E267507 Bruxelles E267507 pullus 04/06/2002 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E

Green 3XN6 left Bruxelles E901570 3CY 19/05/2004 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E

White 3P17 left Bruxelles E901570 >3CY 14/05/2006 Zwijndrecht (Ineos complex), Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,15N 4,2E

Sightings for individual: White 3P17

Green 3XN6 v 21/07/2004 Blackpill, Swansea Bay, Glamorgan, Wales, GB 51,36N 3,59W Howells, R.J. (Bob)

Green 3XN6 v 09/08/2005 Le Portel, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE 50,42N 1,34E Duponcheel, Camille

White 3P17 v 05/03/2007 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Flamant, Renaud

White 3P17 v 26/03/2007 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Flamant, Renaud

White 3P17 v 11/04/2007 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Flamant, Renaud

White 3P17 v 17/06/2007 Wetlands Centre for Wales, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, GB 51,39N 4,08W Stewart, Barry

White 3P17 v 18/06/2007 Wetlands Centre for Wales, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, GB 51,39N 4,08W Stewart, Barry

White 3P17 v 20/06/2007 Wetlands Centre for Wales, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, GB 51,39N 4,08W Wendell, Thomas

White 3P17 v 15/10/2007 Blackpill, Swansea Bay, Glamorgan, Wales, GB 51,36N 3,59W Stewart, Barry

White 3P17 v 04/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Jacobs, Jos

White 3P17 v 04/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Keijser, Hans A.

White 3P17 v 06/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Flamant, Renaud

White 3P17 v 08/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Jacobs, Jos

White 3P17 v 29/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Wolf, Pim A.

White 3P17 v 29/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Lilipaly, Sander

White 3P17 v 31/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Flamant, Renaud

White 3P17 v 31/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Jacobs, Jos

White 3P17 v 31/03/2008 Zandvlietsluis, Antwerpen, BELGIUM 51,2N 4,17E Wolf, Pim A.

White 3P17 v 19/04/2009 Wieringermeer, Noord-Holland, NL 52,53N 4,56E with picture Visscher, Fred

White 3P17 v 05/06/2009 bone meal dump sw Delitzsch, Nordsachsen, Sachsen, GERMANY 51,31N Steudtner, Jürgen

White 3P17 v 24/04/2010 Conchil le Temple, Pas de Calais, FRANCE 50,22N 1,4E female copulation paired with white 3T79 Sauvage, Jean Michel

White 3P17 v 01/07/2010 bone meal dump sw Delitzsch, Nordsachsen, Sachsen, GERMANY 51,31N picture taken Steudtner, Jürgen

White 3P17 v 04/07/2010 bone meal dump sw Delitzsch, Nordsachsen, Sachsen, GERMANY 51,31N picture taken Steudtner, Jürgen

White 3P17 v 13/07/2010 River Adur, Shoreham Airport, Sussex, GB 50,5N 0,17W Fairbank, Richard

White 3P17 v 18/07/2010 Bracelet Bay, Mumbles, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales, GB 51,34N 3,59W Tilt, Adam

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Time to get the bikes out of the garage

Thursday, July 29, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


It dawned on me a couple of days ago that it had been almost a year since we had put our bicycles in the garage just after moving into the new house, and there they had remained ever since. This was clearly not acceptable as I love cycling and have some of the best cycle paths in the country pretty much at my doorstep. A quick clean of the bikes and a blast of air for the tyres was all that was needed before we headed for the Millennium coastal path that runs through Llanelli. Our plan was to cycle from Burry Port to Sandy Water Park and back again as this would allow us to use one of the only free car parks along the path.

P1050726 - Burry Port Lighthouse

The tide was on its way in but a small area of mud was still uncovered in the back basin at Burry Port which provided ample feeding opportunities for a group of thirty or so Redshanks. I was able to sneak up relatively close to the group allowing me to get my best photograph to date of this species. Unfortunately it was rather dark which is something that super-zoom bridge cameras are not that fond of. As a result the picture is rather grainy but nothing can distract from the colour of those legs!

P1050720 - Redshank at Burry Port

A little further along and a flash of blue alerted us to the presence of a Kingfisher on the pool next to the skate park. It must be the only thing getting to fish those waters at the moment as the majority of the fishing platforms seemed to be floating in the middle of the pond. The rest of the route involved regular sightings of Magpie and Swallow as well as three Grey Herons that took flight from the large lake next to the water treatment works. A family of Mute Swans were also feeding there. I was hoping that Sandy Water Park would offer up some more Mediterranean Gulls but there were none to be found. This could have had something to do with the vast flocks of Gulls that were floating in the sheltered waters just off the coast. It must have just been too nice an evening to force them up onto the grass. A quick check back at Burry Port before we headed home showed that the Sandwich Terns from a couple of days ago were still present.

P1050739 - Sandwich Terns at Burry Port

It wasn't only the wildlife that was proving a distraction as the the RNLI were out putting one of their boats through its paces. The lighting was lovely for these shots and the lighthouse at the entrance to Burry Port provided a superb background.

P1050730 - RNLI training at Burry Port
P1050733 - RNLI training at Burry Port P1050736 - RNLI training at Burry Port

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A buffet of Sandwich Terns

Thursday, July 29, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


It has been a quiet week so far in terms of outings but I did manage a quick trip to Burry Port on Tuesday evening to coincide with the high tide. My main purpose, apart from walking off dinner, was to see if there were any Sandwich Terns in attendance after a disappointing single bird on my last visit. As it turns out there were with seventy Terns of all ages sitting on the sand bank in front of the old Pembrey harbour walls. This is the last sand bank to disappear as the tide rolls in and is often the last place that the various birds will gather. Seventy represents the largest flock that I have seen at this location and it was great to be able to hear their distinctive calls once more.

Also on the sand bank were the usual flock of a couple of hundred Oystercatchers, though this represents only a small proportion of the winter numbers when at their peak. Mixed in were several huge juvenile Great Black Backed Gulls that dwarfed everything else, as well as several Common Gulls and at least four Mediterranean Gulls (well I wouldn't want to break the theme of the last few posts now would I?). There were another five Meds on the grass to the back of the old Pembrey harbour along with a hundred or so Black Headed Gulls feeding on the freshly cut grass. A couple of Linnets and a flock of thirty Starlings rounded off the evening nicely.

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Mediterranean Gull Invasion - Part 2: Bracelet Bay

Sunday, July 25, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Following on from my last post the prediction of a good year for Mediterranean Gulls was to be proved correct a couple of days later after a brief visit to Bracelet Bay on Gower. Last year this was pretty much a guaranteed spot to see this species and this year would appear to be no different. I will let the following picture do the talking (click to see a larger version on Flickr).

22102 - Mediterranean Gull at Bracelet Bay, Gower

By my count there are no less than twenty Mediterranean Gulls in that shot. This is the most that I have ever captured in a photograph before and almost the largest flock that I have ever seen full stop. The best thing is that there were birds off to the right of this panorama and even that only represented about half the full count after a loud motorbike scared a good proportion off before I had managed to get my camera out. Conservative estimates must put the full count at somewhere between thirty to forty Mediterranean Gulls which is simply staggering. The species certainly seems to be gaining a foot hold.

22113 - Mediterranean Gull at Bracelet Bay, Gower

A couple of the birds present were ringed including the individual above. The white ring appears to read P17 and I have passed the details onto one of the local recorders in the hope that I can get some life history on the bird. This is the first time that I have attempted such an activity so it will be very interesting to see the results.

I will leave you with a couple of other pictures that show the various ages of the birds that were present. These shots also serve as an excellent comparison exercise between the markings of a Black Headed Gull and a Mediterranean Gull.

22103 - Mediterranean Gull at Bracelet Bay, Gower 22110 - Mediterranean Gull at Bracelet Bay, Gower

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Mediterranean Gull Invasion - Part 1: Burry Port

Friday, July 23, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


If you look back through my posts from last year you will come across a couple of entries concerning the Mediterranean Gulls which I saw regularly frequenting the grassy banks at Bracelet Bay near Mumbles, Gower. Each time there was a high tide you were pretty much guaranteed to see a small flock of them there waiting it out. At the time I was absolutely amazed as apart from one sighting at the WWT Llanelli site I had never seen this Gull before and so finding a regular flock was pretty exciting. I had been looking out for their return this year hoping that they would come back to the same location. Initial searches were proving fruitless but as it turns out I may just have been a couple of weeks too early. Last week I headed over to Pembrey Harbour next to Burry Port in what proved to be the only hour of decent weather that day.

22098 - A stormy day at Burry Port

Almost immediately I had two Sandwich Terns fly overhead while a couple of Common Sandpipers and a family of Pied Wagtails fed on the exposed mud. I could see a single Oystercatcher battling with a very rapidly approaching tide but my main interest was with the huge Gull roost that was split into two groups across the various sand banks. I got the scope out and began a detailed scan to see what was about. The first group was almost exclusively Black Headed Gulls numbering around 180 with a couple of Herring Gulls thrown in for good measure. The other flock was even larger with 300 Black Headed Gulls, 190 Herring Gulls, 2 Lesser Black Backed Gulls and 2 Great Black Backed Gulls. Within this mass though I was able to pick out a gem in the form of an adult Mediterranean Gull! At last I had my first of the year and in a completely new location for me.

Feeling very happy I returned to the car as an approaching rain shower started to make its way up the Burry Inlet. On the drive home I popped into Sandy Water Park where there can often be found another Gull roost in the evenings. Numerous adult and juvenile Black Headed Gulls were duly in place but nestled amongst them were a further 6 Mediterranean Gulls. Absolutely fantastic and a full range of ages as well from this years young up to fully grown adults. I had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one for this species and a couple of days later my prediction was to be proved correct.......

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More Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars

Thursday, July 15, 2010 Adam Tilt 2 Comments


My Cinnabar moth caterpillars are still feeding away in the garden and are noticeably increasing in size. I'm not sure how long it will be until they start the transformation process but I hope I get to see them emerge.

22088 - Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

The picture above shows how much of the leaf this particular individual has devoured. The black things on the leaf are droppings I believe.

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Stormy Evening at Rhossili Cliffs

Thursday, July 15, 2010 Adam Tilt 1 Comments


Tuesday evening was a very stormy one with regular showers rolling up the valley and obliterating the other side of my village from view. However it was my birthday and I was determined that we were going to get out for the picnic and walk that we had planned. I had a quick look at the latest weather radar pictures and decided that we had a window of a couple of hours to get down to Rhossili for some dry weather before the next bank of rain arrived. The journey there wasn't looking hopeful but things cleared up as the impressive shape of Worms Head came into view. We ate our food in the car (Tesco pasta pots for the win), before setting off on the walk to the cliffs. The tide was the highest I have ever seen it with almost none of the beach visible and the waves lapping at the edge of the old raised beach. Despite the relatively small swell the surfers were out in force.

From the cliffs at the end of the path we walked down to the rocky foreshore to find the waves breaking fairly impressively. A Cormorant flew past out at sea while a couple of Linnets and a Blackbird were busy feeding in the gorse. Surprisingly there were relatively few gulls around with just a couple of Herring overhead. I hadn't come for the birds though as I was hoping that the weather would produce some decent lighting for a bit of landscape photography. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was indeed the case as I spotted a vantage point from which I hadn't photographed before.

22096 - The shoreline at Rhossili Cliffs, Gower

I would always recommend looking behind you when you are photographing a view as often the vista can be just as impressive. The low sun was catching the cliffs perfectly, highlighting the variety of colours that this area of coast offers.

22094 - The shoreline at Rhossili Cliffs, Gower

As we headed back up the cliffs a small flock of Swifts arrived and started to do some last minute feeding before darkness fell. Their speed and agility never fails to impress and they always manage to do at least a couple of very close fly-pasts. A very nice way to end the day.

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Breeding Choughs on Gower

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 Adam Tilt 1 Comments


A couple of weekends ago we were at the height of the summer heat wave and the coast seemed like the most comfortable place to be. As regular readers will know I have been aiming to walk around the entire coast of the Gower peninsular, although obviously not all at once, for a while now. One key stretch that has been missing is the path between Mewslade and Overton so that was chosen as our destination for the day.

22076 - Gower coast looking towards Worms Head

All I can say is my god it was hot. We were instantly sweating as soon as we started to move as the humidity levels were so high. Even the slight breeze that was blowing was hot and offered little to no relief at all. In all honesty I expected to see little in terms of wildlife and that we would give up and just sit on the beach. We pushed on though with copious amounts of water in our backpacks and were soon rewarded. A juvenile Green Woodpecker and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker were very welcome sightings in Mewslade woods, as were the large number of juvenile Jackdaws that were making a hell of a racket. The valley itself was full of singing Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and even the odd Yellowhammer. I saw recent fledglings of all three species but was particularly fortunate to find a family group of Chiffchaffs very close to the footpath. I got a couple of brilliant shots that certainly surpass my previous efforts with this species.

22059 - Juvenile Chiffchaff at Mewslade

While watching the Chiffchaffs a Buzzard soared in over the Nitten Field and really gave the Jackdaws something to shout about! We climbed out of the valley and watched a Raven watching the masses that had trekked down to the beach to enjoy the sun. A family of Magpies were also enjoying the commanding views from the cliff tops.

22061 - Raven at Thurba Head, Gower

To the left of Mewslade beach as you look out to sea is the prominent Thurba Head. A short detour from the path had us at its tip watching the Fulmars and Herring Gulls soaring around beneath us. I was very pleased to find a Fulmar sat on a ledge as it allowed me to finally get my first ever photo of this species. There had been a couple on the Isle of Lunga during my holiday to Scotland but in my excitement for the Puffins I sadly missed them. This therefore went some way to make up.

22074 - Fulmar at Thurba Head, Gower

What was very noticeable on the head is how dry everything was. The grass was universally brown and crinkled under the foot, whilst the Sea Thrift had long since given in on its battle for survival. Even the Gorse seemed to be struggling and there was already evidence of a few small grass fires. Hopefully the rain that we have had over the last week will have helped the plants recover.

The rest of the walk to Overton was full of life with Swifts, Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins, Linnets and Whitethroats lending themselves and their voices to proceedings. We also saw a single Greenfinch, several Goldfinch and my first couple of Stonechats on Gower of the year. I have previously mentioned on this blog the population crash in this species after the exceptionally cold winter so it is great to see them starting to make a comeback. There were also numerous day flying moths on the wing along with several species of Butterflies. I am not entirely sure on the specific names of the vast majority of them but it was certainly one of the best days I have seen for insect life on Gower.

We finally reached Overton a few hours later and several litres of water lighter and sat down to have lunch. There was a fair bit of commotion coming from the cliffs behind us, part of which was emanating from a couple of Kestrels. The other calls had the unmistakeable characteristics of a Chough. A quick scan soon had us on the culprits but it wasn’t just a single bird. There were in fact five! Even better was that two were clearly this years juveniles as they were continually begging for food and being served by the two parents.

22081 - Juvenile Chough being fed, Gower

22079 -  - Juvenile Chough being fed, Gower

We could see the yellower legs and shorter beak of the young as they clambered about the rocks. This is the first time that I have seen evidence of breeding Choughs on Gower and I will be passing the details on to the local recorders so that they can update their records. All in all a very satisfying day, even if it did take the best part of a week to recover from the associated dehydration and hay fever.

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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars

Monday, July 12, 2010 Adam Tilt 6 Comments


It has been a quiet couple of weeks on here recently for a number of reasons. The main culprit has been a sudden urge to push on with the house renovations which as you can probably imagine leaves little time or energy for much else. I also took a calculated step away from the computer for the sake of my own sanity. After sitting at a desk staring at a screen all day I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to come home and do pretty much the same thing all evening as well. Yesterday however I was stirred back into action whilst making the first preparations on what will ultimately become my wildlife garden. I was digging up some concrete when my eye was caught by a rather colourful visitor feeding on the plants that currently intersperse my lawn.

22087 - Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

Obviously it's a caterpillar but of what moth or butterfly I hadn't a clue. A quick google search later and I had it pinned down to the Cinnabar Moth. I have never heard of these before but certainly recognise them from various sightings around the country. There are currently three munching their way across the lawn and I am sure that there must be more out there that I haven't yet spotted. I would love to get into mothing and have a moth trap out regularly but as of yet I haven't worked out how to go about obtaining or building a decent trap. Any advice? I'll leave you with a couple more pictures and a promise of some breeding Choughs for tomorrow.

22085 - Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar 22084 - Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

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