Justin Stilwell here bringing you the first update on banding efforts for the season. The gulls have returned to Appledore to breed for the summer. The nests have been built, the eggs have been laid, and a few early chicks have just hatched. As with every summer, the rest of the banding crew (Justin, Kristin, and Kelsey) arrived on the island yesterday evening to join those already on the island (Bill Clark and Tracy Holmes) to begin a week of Adult Gull Banding. We got to work immediately preparing our supplies and setting up our gear for out first day of banding. With the last bit of light and our gear ready to go, we decided to try a practice run on a rather stubborn Great Black-backed Gull. Using the drop down or “Wiley Coyote” Trap, the gull was easily captured and banded 1M7, the first for the season.
This morning we set out to target Herring Gull pairs around the campus buildings and those being monitored by this year’s RIFS Interns (Research Internships in Field Sciences). With the assistance of Field Ornithology TA Sarah MacLean, we banded 12 Herring Gulls and an additional Great Black-backed Gull before calling it quits for lunch. That’s when the weather started to deteriorate and the fog rolled in. We were only able to band two more Great Black-backed Gulls in the afternoon before it turned too cold, windy, and misty. We can’t work in these conditions because if the eggs chill for too long while we’re banding, they won’t hatch. We finished banding for the day with 16 birds total, 12 HERG and 4 GBBG.
We spent the rest of the afternoon surveying the island for banded birds. We’ve seen a number of gulls that were spotted off island this past fall/winter/spring particularly T47, C45, and K68 to name a few. We’ve identified over 160 individual gulls with still more of the island left to explore.
Stay tuned for more updates this week!