15 January 2016

A Western Palearctic first highlights another special bird

Expert gull watcher Killian Mullarney came up trumps on Sunday at one of his gull hot-spots at Duncannon, Wexford by managing to identify a Western Palearctic's first Vega Gull on 10th January. This is currently considered a subspecies of American Herring Gull by the BOURC and this mega-rarity is more at home breeding in northeast Asia or wintering in the Pacific.
 
Vega Gull is not the only interest in this photo. Photo by Irish Birding and the finder / photographer Killian Mullarney

The photos published on Irish Birding showed the Vega Gull (centre), but even more importantly to the BTO Ringing Scheme it shows that it is stood next to a colour-ringed Herring Gull: White 8CP6.

Since being ringed on Lihou Island, Guernsey in June 2011, 8CP6 has been seen a few times in Guernsey in the autumn and winter of 2011/12, then after 'going missing' it was seen on Hayle Estuary, Cornwall in January 2015. This is the first bird from the Guernsey project to be found in Ireland. In fact, there are only three reports of foreign-ringed Herring Gulls in Ireland, from Iceland, Netherlands and France.

With more and more birders and ringers enjoying the delights of gulls at rubbish dumps and roost sites, the movements of gulls between countries and local sites can be studied in more detail. One particular Mediterranean Gull for example has been reported in Ireland 80 times since being ringed in Poland in 2011.

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