This summer, we have two outstanding interns monitoring the gulls of Appledore, recording data, assisting with banding and blood draws, collecting prey remains, and, on top of it all, conducting their own independent projects. It’s time you met them.
Amisha Malhotra graduated this May with her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. She came to us with stellar recommendations from her UNE professors, and she has lived up to the praise. Amisha is hardworking, detail oriented, and a self-starter not intimidated by learning new skills. Within days of arriving on the island, she had decided to do her independent project on mate fidelity and divorce in Great Black-backed Gulls. She dove into the database, and has been teaching herself R, a data analysis program used commonly by biologists and other scientists. Amisha plans on going on to grad school of some stripe, and we have every confidence that she will be immensely successful.
David Mesta finished up his Associate’s degree in Laboratory Science at Northern Essex Community College this May. He joined us for a week of gull banding last year, and after that introduction, it was abundantly clear to me that David had what it took to spend a summer on the island doing field research. David is a keen observer, quietly taking everything in. Countless times, I would realize I needed a particular tool and look up to find David silently handing it to me, like a practiced surgeon’s assistant. David wants to continue his education by transferring to a 4 year institution to work on his Bachelor’s degree. His interests lie in the microbiology field, and his summer project on Appledore is focused on blood parasitism in Great Black-backed Gull chicks. We will be making blood smears on hundreds of fledglings during chick banding week this month, and spending our evenings hunched over microscopes scanning for the telltale signs of invaders infecting the gulls’ red blood cells. We can’t wait to see where David goes from here.
Many individuals have seen 2E2 at the Sandy Point area of Plum Island. Dave Adrien has reported 2E2 present there and verified that 2E2 was also seen at the nest on Appledore the same day. Dave has also provided many pictures of many Appledore Gulls. Now Charlee Breen has provided a picture from June 30, 2017 of 2E2.
Since we have more than 160 reports on 2E2 we are most anxious for every other report that can be obtained since this provides the best detail on the travels and behavior of any of the banded gulls from Appledore. Your reports are most welcome on 2E2 or any banded gull.
It seems like just yesterday that these herring gull chicks were born. They live outside of Hamilton, where the main office on Appledore is located, so everyone who ran into me that day made sure I knew the chicks had hatched; I had to tell them that while that’s great news and they sure are cute, I only monitor the nests of black-backed gulls!
In reality, these chicks are about two weeks old. Even without passing them every day and watching them grow up, you can guess a chick’s age based on the extent of the coloration and covering of their contour feathers, which cover the surface of their body.
Herring gull eggs hatch after 30-32 days of incubation. The chicks will then replace their down with feathers. After 42-48 days, they will be able to fly, or have fledged. Most fledging occurs in late July to early August. Though the two species are similar, black-backed chicks grow a little differently than herrings. They hatch from their eggs 21-28 days after incubation, and their time to fledging has been described as anywhere from 30-40 days to 7-8 weeks.
Chicks of both species will pass through several distinct plumage stages over the next four years before reaching adulthood and hopefully returning to Appledore to breed! Our next week has been dubbed “Chick Banding Week”: we will have a team of researchers, students, and volunteers working together to get bands on this year’s chicks before they are able to fly and we lose our chance!
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.
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 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
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.