This post comes to us from the esteemed Anthony Hill, long-time bander at the Appledore Island Migration Banding Station and all-around wonderful guy. In addition to banding migratory songbirds, Anthony works for Project Puffin (described below). This summer, Anthony was working on Seal Island, one of the Project Puffin field stations, when he heard about a banded gull on neighboring Matinicus Rock.
On June 10, 2012, a young Great Black-backed Gull wearing a plastic leg band inscribed 2T3 was observed on Matinicus Rock, Maine. The bird was banded as a chick on Appledore Island on July 10, 2011. It is a straight-line distance of approximately 104 miles in a Northeasterly direction from Appledore Island, 6 miles SE of Portsmouth, NH to Matinicus Rock, which is 23 miles SSE of Rockland, ME.
Matinicus Rock is one of the seven island field stations of the National Audubon Society Seabird Restoration Program (“Project Puffin”) in Maine. The Project was begun in 1973 by Dr. Steven Kress with the goal of restoring Atlantic Puffins to islands in Maine where they had been eliminated by human pressure.
This work began by bringing very young Atlantic Puffin chicks from Newfoundland and hand-raising them in artificial burrows. The premise for this work was the fact that this species exhibits natal philopatry or natal homing, defined as the tendency for a young animal to return to the location where it was raised when it reached breeding age. After several years of raising chicks in this fashion and waiting for them to reach banding age, success was achieved and the population of Atlantic Puffins on these historic nesting islands has been restored.
The research of the Puffin Project has built on the success of the work with Atlantic Puffins to presently encompass studies of Common, Arctic, Roseate and Least Terns; Black Guillemots; Razorbills and Leach’s Storm Petrels. Student interns and supervisors and volunteer field assistants live on the islands in wilderness camping conditions from mid-May through mid-August and spend their time conducting a range of studies – in observation blinds, field transects or in the colonies measuring, weighing and banding young birds to monitor their growth and nesting success.
In addition to the study species, these islands host nesting Laughing, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls and an occasional pair of Common Ravens. These birds are actively excluded from the colonies because they will opportunistically prey on young and adult birds of the study species.
Thanks to Anthony and the crew at Matinicus for reporting this gull! This is one of only a handful of reports of an Appledore gull on another off-shore island.