Pam Boutilier (Coastal Coordinator and Celia’s Garden caretaker at the Shoals Marine Laboratory) saw Herring Gull A75 at Hampton Beach, NH on August 10. When Pam sent me the observation, I asked her to confirm that her band reading was correct because A75 was banded as a chick in 2005 and, prior to Pam’s observation, had not been seen since! This bird is now 8 years old, but as far as we know, has not returned to nest on the island. Why do some birds return to breed on Appledore and others do not? Obviously, some birds do not live long enough to return to breed. In cases where a bird is alive and not returning to Appledore, there is another explanation. Other studies indicate that male gulls tend to breed at or near the location where they were hatched, whereas females tend to follow males to breeding sites. A female from Appledore might return to breed on Appledore if she followed a male who was also hatched there. Alternatively, she could meet a male hatched at another location and follow him to that site. Is A75 a female who has been nesting with a male at another location? For the past few years, we’ve collected blood from all the gulls we band, so we’ll be able to determine the sex of the birds using genetic analysis. As our resight dataset grows, we’ll soon be able to address this type of question. Keep sending in your resights!
Herring Gull V57 has had an interesting year so far.
This bird was banded as a chick in July 2012, was observed at Brownsville Municipal Landfill in Brownsville, TX in February 2013, and then seen at Reeds Beach in Burleigh, NJ in May 2013! Generally, it’s thought that hatch-year gulls disperse relatively long distances from the location where they hatched. Is this a general rule for Appledore gulls? The more off-island resights we accumulate, the better equipped we will be to answer this question.
4R8 also had a noteworthy off-island resight this year. This bird was banded as an adult in 2004 (thus, it is at least 14 yrs old) and has been seen on the island every year except 2010. Did it skip that year or did we just miss it during our island surveys? No one had reported seeing 4R8 off the island until March 2013 when it was seen by Antione Turcotte-Van De Rydt at Parc Lucien-Blanchard, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. We’ve had fewer than 20 resights in Canada and the vast majority have been Great Black-backed Gulls.
A brief summary of 2013:
This year, we’ve received observations of 95 individual gulls off the island – some gulls were seen more than once, so the total number of resights is actually 112. Appledore gulls have been observed in CT (3 reports), DE (3), FL (4), ME (3), MA (23), NH (50), NJ (7), NY (10), RI (3), SC (1), TX (2) as well as Quebec (1). Two birds were seen offshore on fishing boats. Most birds seen off-island in 2013 were only observed once; a few were seen multiple times. Herring Gull L52, banded as a chick in 2011, was seen on beaches in Hampton, NH in February, March, April and August.
Some birds seen in 2013 have been observed at the same off-island locations for several years. Herring Gull C17, for example, was banded as a chick in 2005 and was seen at Jenness Beach, NH every year from 2006 – 2009 and Hampton Beach, NH every year from 2010 – 2013. 2E2 is a “regular” at Plum Island, MA. 2E2 was banded in 2006 and has been seen in the Plum Island area >20 times almost every winter since. Some birds, like 2E2, show striking site fidelity during the non-breeding season.
We’ll provide more data summaries in the coming months. Stay tuned!