Sightings Near and Far

Greetings Folks! Justin here to share more sightings of the gulls near and far. Our first comes from our friend Jon Worthen who continues to find Appledore gulls at Hampton Beach, NH. On February 4th, Jon found C17, N87, and one new bird, K68. Jon found K68 a second time at Hampton Beach on February 12th. K68 was banded as an Adult in May 2011 and nested along a trail in the brush east of Bartels Hall. In fact, because his nest was in the brush, we couldn’t use the traps to catch him so I chased him through the brush/thorns to catch him. What made K68 special was an odd mass protruding from his bill. Tufts Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Courchesne, who banded K68, explains more:

I suspect the mass was actually an inflammatory lesion from an old trauma. Maybe a fish hook or some such. In any case, it actually looks slightly smaller than it did back in May. Have to see how it looks this coming season!

When we banded K68, we noticed a mass protruding from its bill. It appears to have gotten smaller since we banded it. - Photo by Jon Worthen

If K68 was our near sighting, then first year Herring gull L04 is our far sighting. On February 27th, Dr. Bill Summerour spotted L04 at the Magnolia Landfill in Baldwin County, Alabama. L04 was banded as a chick on July 12th, 2011.

L04, a first year Herring Gull, traveled at least 1300 miles to get to Magnolia Landfill

The sighting, reported by Eric Soehren of the Alabama DCNR, is one of only a handful of resights we’ve received from Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico. Located about 1,300 miles from Appledore, the Magnolia Landfill attracts a variety of gull species wintering in the south. Eric provided us with more on the landfill:

The Magnolia Landfill (located in south Baldwin County) is one of the best sites to view gulls along coastal Alabama.  In addition to seeing thousands of Ring-billeds and Laughing Gulls, the main draw to this site are the “rare” gulls that turn up with them over the winter months; rare in terms of Alabama records.  Examples of rarities include Iceland “Kumlien’s”, Thayer’s, Glaucous, Lesser Black-backed, etc that turn up almost annually.  As a result, it is one of the sites featured on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail (Stop 19).  The managers of the landfill have worked with local birders to provide an overlook for birder’s to scan the gulls enabling for opportunities like Dr. Summerour’s observation to happen.

L04 at Magnolia Landfill in Baldwin County, Alabama - Photo by Bill Summerour

Indeed, landfills and beaches continue to be popular wintering spots for the gulls. We thank Jon, Bill, and Eric for these great resights. Our gulls have been found all over from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico so keep a sharp eye because you never know where you’ll find the Gulls of Appledore!

Dr. Julie Ellis and Longtime Gull Wrangler Bill Clark contributed to this post.

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