Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Visiting an old friend at Carrickfergus

Just been out to the car and in the pitch black I can hear the calls of whooper swans less than half a mile away on Paddy's dub on Lough Beg. What a great place this is! I'm in Northern Ireland again this week.

It's been a long day, I was on the road to Liverpool airport at 4.30am and by 7.30am was in my hire car and driving away from Belfast airport on my way to today's job. Seven hours later I'd finished my habitat survey and decided to call in at one of my favourite places, Carrickfergus on the banks of Belfast Lough.

Scenically it's a very pretty, picturesque town with an imposing and historic Norman castle on the edge of the harbour.

I first came here two years ago to see a ring-billed gull,  and it was the same bird which drew me back again today. Having already seen two ring-billed gulls this year, the first summer at Preston dock and an adult here in Northern Ireland at Portrush, I don't suppose I'd have been too bothered if I wasn't also so fond of Carrickfergus.

I picked up the bird almost immediately, sitting on the quay with a flock of common and black-headed gulls. They allowed quite close approach and I was able to get a few shots of the bird with common gulls alongside for comparison. Meanwhile on the water there was a very confiding black guillemot in winter plumage.

Ring-billed gull is slightly larger and a shade paler than common gull with a more robust bill. Notice also the differences in head shape and the pale eye ring of the American bird. Common gull has a more gentle face.

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