Greetings Folks! Gull wrangler Justin Stilwell here to bring you the latest happenings with the Gulls of Appledore. With the gulls long dispersed from the island, people are starting to spot them all over. Throughout the non-breeding season, we’ll be featuring resights of our gulls here while also sharing stories on our research and experiences on the island!
This week, our resight comes from Tom Auer, who spotted E73 on November 25, 2011 at the Windsor-Bloomfield landfill in northern Connecticut. E73, a Herring Gull, was originally banded back in 2006 as a chick near the large Radar Tower on the island. This puts the gull at around 5 1/2 years old. E73 was spotted on the island in May 2009, May & June 2010, and May 2011. We did not find a nest associated with E73. However, the gull’s return to the island this early in the season may indicate it attempted to breed on the island, as these sightings are around the time when pairs begin to initiate nests. Herring Gulls start to breed as early as their 3rd year, but typically start in their 4th year. Alternatively, the gull may be “prospecting” potential nest sites for future breeding attempts.
E73 traveled over 130 miles from the island to get to the landfill. Gulls are often found at landfills as they are readily available sources for food during the winter. Resights like this one allow us to learn more about wintering behavior of the gulls and our impacts on them.
Thanks to Tom for this great resight! Everyone, please keep your eyes peeled. You never know when or where you may find a banded gull! If you find a gull with a band, you can report it directly to the Appledore Banding project and the USGS at http://www.reportband.gov
Editor’s note: Justin Stilwell is a senior at the University of New Hampshire who has been an Appledore gull wrangler since 2009. Justin was also a research intern in 2010. He conducted two projects: 1) identification of fish species consumed by gulls and 2) a comparison of reproductive success in young (inexperienced) versus older (more experienced) gulls. More details on his findings will be included in future posts. Justin is planning to go to veterinary school in the Fall and will continue helping with the Appledore gull project in future years.