Herring Gull T47 has an affinity for the NH coast

This post is from Bill Clark, Appledore gull aficionado:

On April 28, 2012 Jon Woolf from Manchester, NH decided to do some birding along the New Hampshire Coast.  Among the expected grebes, Barn Swallows, and eiders …  but I’ll let Jon tell it in his own words …

at the second pull-off south of Odiorne Point, there was a very tolerant Herring Gull standing on the rocks at the edge of the parking area. It let me approach within about seven feet, which was more than close enough to note that it had bands on both legs: a large green band on the left leg with code “T47” in white letters …

Photo by Jon Woolf

Jon also recorded the USGS band and reported it to the Bird Banding Lab.

T47 was banded on Appledore Island as an adult in July of 2010 and has been on Appledore Island and the nearby New Hampshire coast six different times during July, August, September, and October of 2010 and 2011.  Jon’s report and photos provide the first April (Spring) date for T47and is therefore especially welcome.

A handsome gull! Photo by Jon Woolf

There is much to be learned from the Appledore Gulls.  Because both Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls are common, banding large numbers of them produces many resights.  The larger database provides a better baseline to study many aspects of the life of these long-lived birds and their interaction with the environment and humans.  Each reported observation increases the value of the data already collected.  The gulls have some things to tell us humans about their world and our world that are important to both. The story has just begun.  Thanks to Jon for taking the time to report T47 and thanks for the great Spring photos of this handsome gull.

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5 thoughts on “Herring Gull T47 has an affinity for the NH coast

  1. Ran into “T” t-47 (our nickname for him) on 9/17/13, near Ordiorne State Park. He was begging for food (Sour cream & Chedder Potato Chips) and, was able to train me to give him a few. He ate from my hand with very little fear of humans. His habit of “drooling” was quite humorous. In the time we spent with “T”, we noticed a strange habit of his. He seemed to bow his head and stare at the ground for 2 to 5 seconds. Overall, it was a great encounter.

    • Hi Norman!

      Thanks for the resight report for T47. This bird was banded as an adult in 2010 and has been seen (both on the island and on the mainland) 23 times since, making it a real “regular” in our program. It has been observed at Odiorne or Hampton every winter a total of 12 times, so it appears that this bird spends its winters in coastal NH. Also, other observers have reported that this bird is not at all shy and will approach people quite closely. The habit you describe of bowing the head down and staring at the ground is common in gulls. It almost looks like they’re checking to make sure they still have two feet…”yep, feet are still there…” I think the reason they do that is to drain their salt gland, which is located in the skull right above the eyes. The salt gland removes excess salt from the gull’s bloodstream and makes it possible for them to consume salty prey. When they tilt their head down, the salty fluid excreted by the gland drains down out their bill. But, I’m not entirely certain – we’ve often joked about the various reasons they might stare at the ground…Thanks again for the resight. If you have a photo of “Mr T”, please send it to julie.ellis@tufts.edu.!

  2. 9/18/2013 Saw “Mr.T” in the same place as 9/17. What an entertaining guy! He took chips from me without hesitation once I sat on the rock. He seemed to hesitate when I was standing up. I am in awe at how friendly this bird is. Can’t wait to have lunch with him again!! I have sent a photo to your email.

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