Some interesting happenings in the world of banded Appledore gulls.
In mainland resight news: we received a report from Sharon who saw Great Black-backed Gull 7A3 on Aug 8, 2013 at the Fox Run Plaza in Newington, NH. 7A3 was hanging around the end of the parking lot between Trader Joes and McDonalds. Sharon said that the bird was in a hunched position with fishing line hanging out of its mouth.
7A3 was originally banded near Kiggins Commons (the island dining hall) as an adult in 2005 and has been observed on the island every summer since then. In fact, the gull resight team chased 7A3 out of Kiggins Commons this past May. Assuming that 7A3 started nesting around 5 yrs of age (typical for a Great Black-backed Gull), this bird is at least 13 years old. 7A3 was seen in May and mid-July of 2013 looking healthy. However, Allie Nadler saw it on July 30 with a fish hook in its bill.
Who knows where or how the gull was hooked, but we see this all too often. We’re very sad to see this happen to an old friend.
In happier news, Bill Clark and Allie Nadler had a very interesting on-island resight during their recent stint on Appledore. They saw Herring Gull N72 on the roof of PK (see map tab). N72 was banded as a chick and later observed by Julie Cotton, summer research intern in 2008 and now a graduate student at the University of California at Davis. In 2008, there was a pair of rogue GBBGs who either lost their nest or never had one. Their original territory was near Laighton, but over the course of the summer they “conquered” more and more territory, moving down the trail toward Founders and attacking all the nesting Herring Gulls along the way. Julie describes a very strange thing that happened along the way:
Somewhere, at some point during the carnage, a HERG chick appeared in the company of the GBBG adults. Amazingly enough, and against our expectations, they didn’t attack it — they had adopted it! The pair doted over the HERG as if it were their own, raising it all the way to fledging. No one really knows where the HERG chick came from. Did a mischievous student at the lab do an egg swap? Did the GBBG duo massacre the HERG’s parents and adopt the orphaned chick? Unfortunately no one saw the moment of adoption, so we still don’t know how it happened. But however it went down, the end result was a fascinating case of cross-species adoption (and a rather amusing sight as the two hulking GBBGs gently cared for their “baby”).
If N72 returns to Appledore to nest in the future, it will be fascinating to see which species it ends up choosing to nest with!