Thank you Verizon!

Without the support of granting agencies and private donors, we could never afford to run the gull research program on Appledore. The costs of transport and housing for our students run to the thousands of dollars each season. This year, we were fortunate to receive a substantial grant from the Verizon Foundation that covered the majority of our student costs, and also allowed us to purchase supplies for a tracking project we are excited to implement next year, so a thousand thanks to Verizon!

After our team returned home from banding in May, I received thank you notes from two of my Northern Essex Community College students that I wanted to share with all of you blog readers. I share their gratitude, and want to thank everyone who has, and continues to support access to this opportunity for students who could not otherwise participate.  Here are those students in their own words.

“Hi, my name is Yexis Hechavarria and I had the opportunity to go to Appledore Island this year to help in the gull banding project. I was born in Cuba and I have been in the country for around four years; the mere idea of me being in this country is something to celebrate, but having the chance to do things like going to island and spending there a few days is something me or my family cannot afford and that’s why I wanted to thank you all for this opportunity. I met new people and this was my first time living on an island (besides Cuba, but that doesn’t count). I have to highlight how great the food was, every day I spent there I tried something new and the people living on the island are by far the nicest people I have ever met. Living there was like having a different point of view of nature. Before the trip I didn’t really paid so much attention to song birds until I got the chance of holding a hummingbird while staying on the island; now every day I wake up I can hear them sing.

IMG_0498

Yexis (in purple) prepares to release a songbird.

The island has the idea of water conservation and now I pay attention to how much water I can save. I learned a lot about how seagull live, and now every time I go to the Market Basket I find myself checking them to see if they are banded. I’m very grateful that I was able to go the trip, and since this was my first time there I wasn’t really prepare for the journey, but if I’m able to go next year I will make sure my time is well spent. Again thank you so much the experience otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I’m looking forward to see how the gull banding project evolves.”

Luis Robles, also passed along his gratitude:

IMG_0478

Luis was still smiling at this point, gearing up for the field.

“I am grateful for the opportunity of being part of your gull banding team. There is so much that I learned about the gull banding process, birds, ecology and even some history. The people were great and the island was beautiful. I also liked the library very much and the wide variety of science books that they had.

This is the type of adventure with memories that stay with you for the rest of your life. I wouldn’t have been able to afford this trip out of my own pocket so I am very grateful to have been chosen and being able to participate. I would definitely repeat this trip and would also encourage other students to do it as well.”

Who’s in the mood for a chick flick?

ddf gull chicks

The first black-backed chicks of 2017 have hatched! The honor of being the first parents of the year belongs to 3P2 and 1R0 for the second year in a row. This couple has three fluffy chicks, but are too protective of their young to let us get pictures. The runner-ups are the unbanded parents of these adorable guys pictured above, who are located at Devil’s Dance Floor on Appledore.

The older of the two chicks has been marked with black Sharpie on his belly and the younger with blue Sharpie to be able to differentiate between the two until they’re big enough to receive poultry bands of the same colors. Hidden behind them is the last egg in the nest; when that one hatches, it won’t receive any markings until it gets a white poultry band at around five days old. My partner intern, David, and I will be visiting these nests daily to see how many of these chicks make it to fledging. At this point, they’ll receive federal bands and a field-readable band. We can only hope that after that, they’ll leave Appledore and be resighted elsewhere by all of you guys until they come back here to breed in a few years!

Adult banding week 2017

IMG_0486

The team, from left: Sury Matos, Sarah Courchesne, Tracy Waldron, Yexis Hechavarria, Mary Everett, Amisha Malhotra, David Mesta (back), Jane Wing, Luis Robles

Last week, a team of community college students, summer gull interns, a songbird bander and gull enthusiast, and a public librarian assembled on Appledore for adult banding week. The weather was sideways rain and battering wind for a day and a half, so we got off to a slow start, but by the end of the week, we had captured, bled, and banded 23 birds, and had swept the entire island for any banded birds and tagged and GPSed their nests as well.

IMG_0487.jpg

Tracy, Sury, Mary, and Jane at work

Rather than band any old bird at hand, we tried this year to focus on getting mated pairs banded. This allows us to do a better job in the future tracking things like mate and nest site fidelity, individual breeding success, and also the success of the offspring of each pair. We managed to get 27 banded pairs by the end of the week, and were quite pleased.

IMG_0499.JPG

Yexis takes a break from gull work to release a songbird with the aid of Peg Ackerson

As always, the purpose of banding, at least for me, is always two-fold: data collection, and education. None of the Northern Essex Community College students who came out with us this May had ever had an experience like this, and they returned home, heads brimming with ornithological and ecological knowledge gleaned first hand. I can’t think of a better way to measure success.

Hopefully, you will soon be seeing posts from our two summer interns, Amisha Malhotra (University of New England) and David Mesta (Northern Essex Community College). Both graduated last weekend, and are now staring down 10 weeks of life on Appledore. Watch this space for more from them soon.

Finally, our very great thanks to the Verizon Foundation, without whose generous funding my students could not have participated. We couldn’t be more excited about the things we can do because of their support which they have just renewed for a second year. Thank you Verizon!

K65 and K68 – A Continuing Pair

K65 and K68 4-3-2017 by Deb Howard K65 and K68 are known to have nested on Appledore each year since 2011

K65 and K68 are known to have nested on Appledore Island in Maine each year since 2011 – Photo by Deb Howard

Deb Howard spotted K65 and K68 at Hampton Beach April 3, 2017 and obtained a nice photo of the two Herring Gulls together.  This pair of Herring Gulls have nested along the trail from Bartels to the Bench on Appledore Island each year since at least May 2011.  Both Herring Gulls were banded as adults at a nest in May 2011.

Thanks to a number of reporters, some of the movement of the pair has been documented. Hampton Beach is a section of the mainland frequented by K68 and occasionally K65.

Pair fidelity and site fidelity are both demonstrated by this partnership.  Researchers on Appledore Island will be watching for the pair this summer (2017) to see if they return to their habitual nesting site.

Welcom Back Dave

L52 Welcomes Dave Adrien Back to Hampton Beach from Chasing Great Grey Owls in Montreal

L52 Welcomes Dave Adrien Back to Hampton Beach from Photographing Great Grey Owls in Montreal

Dave Adrien continues to supply sightings of Appledore Gulls as well as other banded gulls and banded shorebirds observed at sites along the New England coast.  His major contribution to research includes thousands of reports of hundreds of different banded birds.  Dave has a treasure trove of photographs of ‘known age’ Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls to accompany his myriad list of bands seen.

L52 was banded while a chick at a nest on Appledore Island July 13 2011.  DNA indicates L52 is a male.  More than 80 sighting reports are on record for L52 showing providing considerable information about his movements.  L52 favors the Hampton Beach area of New Hampshire.

 

62H at Short Beach Stanford, CT

 

62H March 2, 2017 at Short Beach, Stratford, CT

62H March 2, 2017 at Short Beach, Stratford, CT –

Photo by Donna Caporaso

Donna C. writes: “Look who I ran into on 3/2/2017 at Short Beach in Stratford CT!   62H has also been seen pretty much daily since he came back from his short visit home.  But I know 62H was at the Boat Ramp the past several months because my daughter would check.  Funny thing about 62H, twice he jumped on my hood!  I don’t feed the Gulls but I always talk to him so maybe he thought I was giving out food.  Its been so great to be able to see the plumage changes.”

62H February 2017 at Short Beach, Stratford, CT

62H February 2017 at Short Beach, Stratford, CT

Photo by Donna Caporaso

 62H was banded while a chick at a nest on Appledore Island July 17, 2015 and DNA results indicate 62H is a male.  Donna first reported 62H Sept 21, 2015, at about three months of age at Birdseye Boat Ramp in Stratford.  She has a series of photographs showing 62H since that time showing 62H and the plumage changes.

 

Dave Adrien Spots V72 plus an ‘Outsider’

ARU from New Brunswick
ARU (Great Black-backed Gull) from New Brunswick and V72 (Herring Gull) from Appledore

V72 was banded as a chick on Appledore Island July 19, 2012

Dave Adrien continues his determined quest for banded gulls and shorebirds.  Here is the latest from Dave regarding V72 and an unusual AGU.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2017 3:08 PM, Dave Adrien wrote regarding AGU:

Location – today @ noon

Salisbury Beach State Park – Lot 2

Salisbury MA.

Mixed gulls roosting in the parking lot – 150 plus birds

I’m searching thru gulls and here is a green band – Appledore HERG V72. … I know him. Here’s another green band;  ARU.  All alpha code –that’s unique – this isn’t a Appledore bird. Wait (the light bulb hasn’t gone off yet)  – this isn’t a HERG!

Since July 2014 I have recorded over 2500 sightings of banded gulls and this is Gull # 670.  My first non-Appledore banded GBBG

Dave Adrien

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: [New Brunswick] Ron Ronconi
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2017 8:59 AM
To: Dave Adrien
Subject: Re: banded gull [AGU]

Hi Dave,

Yes indeed, that [ARU] is one of mine.  My banding repertoire includes white on green for GBBG and white on pink for HERG.  Amazing that you got banded [Appledore, V72] HERG and GBBG in the same photo.  Also surprising that you got one of these GBBG.  We banded only 4 GBBG chicks on Kent Island, New Brunswick, this summer and this is one of them.  …