Kiah Walker Reports Behavior of M99 and Z09

M99-Z09 photo by Kiah Walker Apr 17 2018 Plum Island (2)

Photo of M99 and Z09 sharing food by Kiah Walker at Plum Island, MA on April 17, 2018

Kiah comments: “I’d be very surprised if M99 and Z09 weren’t a mated pair. Why else would they bring each other food like that (especially in consecutive years)? Very interesting!”

Both M99 and Z09 are ‘known age’ gulls.  Both Herring Gulls were banded on Appledore Island in Maine. M99 was banded as a chick July 16, 2012. DNA indicates M99 is female. Z09 was banded as a chick July 14, 2013, the DNA sample for Z09 has not been run..

Last year, 2017, Dave Adrien also observed M99 and Z09 on April 20 in very close association at Salisbury Beach. Dave’s comment was: “So tell me, is there any history between M99 and Z09? They sure were acting chummy.”  Z09 was on Appledore in May 2017 but no nest was recorded and M99 was not reported on Appledore Island in summer 2017 but that does not mean that they did not nest as a pair on Appledore Island or elsewhere.  They will be worth watching for this summer on Appledore.

We have several reports now of gulls pairing up, “chummy” as Dave says, during March and April. Some bonding appears to be exhibited ‘off-island’.  The well-known 2E2 and 5T9 have repeatedly shown very close association in late winter at Sandy Point more than 20 miles from their nesting area on Appledore Island .

Thanks to the many individuals who take the time to report banded gulls and behavior.  Kiah’s behavioral report and photo are appreciated as were Dave Adrien’s last year and the many, many, others.


Herring Gull Z00 in Fresh Plumage

DSC_6004 Herring Gull Z00 by Suzanne Sullivan Mar 16 2018Photo by Suzanne Sullivan. The photo was taken at Silver Lake in Wilmington, MA on March 16, 2018.

Z00 was banded at the North Head of Appledore Island, Maine while a nestling ready-to-fledge on July 16, 2013.  Justin Stilwell was the bander with support from the entire banding team.  Watching the teamwork of the ‘chick banding team’ is amazing; what a hard working group.  Justin is now “Dr. Justin Stilwell”, Veterinarian.

Suzanne’s report with the photo is the first ‘Off-Island’ report for Z00.


  • Banded as a chick                            7-16-13                 Appledore Island
  • Observed                                            6-01-16                 Appledore Island
  • Observed                                            8-20-16                 Appledore Island
  • Observed (possible nest)                 5-17-17                 Appledore Island
  • Observed (possible nest)*               7-14-17                 Appledore Island
  • Observed                                            3-16-18                 Silver Lake, Wilmington, MA

*’possible nest’ based upon two observations along Sirens Trail in 2017, a nesting area, and Z00 having reached four-years of age, the normal age for nesting.

The re-sight team will be looking for Z00 this nesting season on Appledore Island.

33E – Mate of U10 – Also in Fresh Plumage

DSC01887 Herring Gull 33E Claire Humphries-Sandy Point State Reservation- Mar 18 2018

Photo by Claire Humphries.  Herring Gull 33E was at Sandy Point State Reservation, MA on March 18, 2018.

33E was banded on Appledore Island in Maine May 26, 2016.  At the time of banding 33E was an adult gull, already a minimum of four years of age and possibly much older.

33E was the nest mate of U10 in 2015 when banded.   U10’s mate the prior year, 2015, was not banded and could have been 33E.  33E also nested with U10 in the subsequent years of 2016 and 2017.  The nest was not monitored in either 2015 or 2016 but two chicks were recorded in 2017.

Off-Island reports for 33E are from March 30, 2016 and March 23 2017.  Both reports are from the Sandy Point area and both mention U10 nearby.  Claire mentions when she took the photo in March 2018 that another banded gull was near 33E but the other gull slipped into the water before she could read the band; perhaps U10?

I am beginning to see a pattern in these March sightings.  The bond between U10 and 33E seems to be quite strong.  The banding and re-sights teams will be watching to see what happens this coming nesting season on Appledore Island.  As always, I wish we had more reports.

Thanks to Claire, Suzanne (see Z00 below) and the many persons, such as Dave Adrien (reporter par excellence), who contribute to this long-term project with their reports.






Valentine Greetings from 62H: “I love handouts.”

62H greets Lora at Birdseye Boat Ramp in Stafford, CT
Herring Gull 62H greets Lora at Birdseye Boat Ramp in Stafford, CT
Herring Gull 64H brought Valentine Day greetings to Lora R at Birdseye Boat Ramp in Stafford CT on February 14.  Or was this well-known Herring Gull simply engaging in a favorite routine of ‘hamming it up’ in hopes of a feed?

I liked Lora’s description of 62Hs approach: “I was quite surprised by a seagull who jumped on the hood of my car and stared at me seemingly unafraid. Usually the gulls just gather on the ground around the cars. I was so taken, I grabbed my cell phone and took the attached pictures. Then I noticed the band. It was almost like the bird was saying “Hey, you need to tell them where I am, look at me.”

Lora did a bit of searching and reported 62H. Each gull report is greatly appreciated so thanks to Lora for the photos and update on 62H from all the banders and researchers who work on this long-term research.

Results of a DNA sample from 62H indicate that the gull is a male.  He was banded as a chick, almost ready to fly, on Appledore Island July 17, 2015.  Since Herring Gulls require four years before they display full adult plumage the photos show that 62H is ‘on schedule’ starting to show adult-like plumage on the wings but retaining some juvenile plumage.

62H Lora R Birdseye Feb 2018 1

All reports of 62H received to date have been from the Birdseye Boat Ramp area.  Although the total number of reports is over 50 there are time gaps where 62H may have moved some distance.  Some young gulls disperse as far as Texas or Florida but for 62H the only reports are for Birdseye so far.

BAND From   Location Notes
62H 07/17/15 Herring Gull Banded as a chick on Appledore Island Nest 15H400                       DNA=male


Bill Clark, Volunteer, Gulls of Appledore



Spectacular 9ET

Photo of 9ET by John Buswell

Great Black-backed Gull 9ET

This beautiful photograph of 9ET was taken by John Buswell and forwarded with a sighting record by Yvonne Buswell.  The photograph was taken at Sandy Point Beach on Plum Island, MA on February 3, 2018.

9ET was an adult gull on a nest when banded on Appledore Island May 17, 2017.

Scott Harvell Captures Image of 42C


42C Banded Gull Scott Harvell Nov 24 2017

What’s special about 42C?

There is a special interest in 42C because 42C is one of three hatchlings from nest 14H321.  Documenting the survival to age-three for all three chicks in a nest is noteworthy. The survival rate for gull chicks is usually about 25 percent and to have a set of parents with all three chicks from the same hatch-year documented as surviving to at least age-three is unusual.

The ‘usual’ number of eggs in a Herring Gull nest is three.  Predation, infertility, and abandonment often reduce the hatch rate to less than three.  It takes two good parents to hatch all three eggs and protect and feed all three chicks to fledging.  If food is scarce, predators invade or the season is stormy, wet and cold some or all of the clutch may be lost.  If either parent is shot, poisoned, or dies of other causes no chicks will survive.  It takes two …

After fledging chicks face a number of challenges, including finding food, competing for food, avoiding predators, surviving weather, injuries, and human poisonings and shootings.  Some gull parents may assist chicks after fledging, the data on this is sparse.  Post-fledging assistance can improve survival rates.  If a chick survives the first winter then odds of reaching ‘adult’ status at age-four increase and the four-year adult Herring Gull may return to the natal colony to nest as an adult.

So what do we know about the three chicks of nest 14H321 who hatched in June 2014?

42C was banded July 19, 2014 at a monitored nest on Appledore Island and is pictured above on November 24, 2017 approaching four years of age. Sharon Harvell forwarded Scott’s November picture of 42C.  42C survived.

Sibling 41C was observed by Dr. Sarah Courchesne on Appledore Island in July 2017, thus documenting survival for 3 years as of July 2017.  42C survived and hopefully still survives.

Sibling 43C was reported at Ipswich, MA April 2017, at Sandy Point May 2017 and Salisbury Beach June 2017 making the three-year mark also.  Making  43C the third hatchling from nest 14H321 to survive to the three-year mark.  Supper-spotter Dave Adrian provided the reports for 43C

So, we have documented all three chicks from the same nest to the near-adults age of three.  Now, hopefully we will have more reports forthcoming on all three Herring Gulls, 41C, 42C, and 42C and eventually find all three nesting on Appledore Island in the next year or two.

Mention must be made of the many students and volunteers who helped with banding and spotting of the gulls; Sara Gonzales banded 41C, Justin Stilwell (now Dr. Stilwell) banded 42C, and Sarah Trifiletti banded 43C.  All three were assisted by other team members in capturing, holding, and properly releasing the ‘almost-ready-to-fledge’ adult-sized chicks.



Gull spotters, you’re invited!



Dear Volunteer,

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

We all have a story to tell. Join us for a captivating evening of stories from volunteers who like to get up close to nature. A first of its kind event at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth will feature the faces, places, and stories of citizen science in New Hampshire.

*FREE event, cash bar and light refreshments will be served. Registration is required (space is limited).


Click here for additional details and to register

We hope to see you there!



The Stories from the Field Planning Team:

Haley Andreozzi, UNH Cooperative Extension

Gretchen Carlson, Gundalow Company

Malin Clyde, UNH Cooperative Extension

Alyson Eberhardt, NH Sea Grant & UNH Cooperative Extension

Emily Lord, UNH Cooperative Extension

Abigail Lyon, Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP)

Caitlin Peterson, NH Sea Grant & UNH Cooperative Extension