Scott Harvell Captures Image of 42C


42C Banded Gull Scott Harvell Nov 24 2017

What’s special about 42C?

There is a special interest in 42C because 42C is one of three hatchlings from nest 14H321.  Documenting the survival to age-three for all three chicks in a nest is noteworthy. The survival rate for gull chicks is usually about 25 percent and to have a set of parents with all three chicks from the same hatch-year documented as surviving to at least age-three is unusual.

The ‘usual’ number of eggs in a Herring Gull nest is three.  Predation, infertility, and abandonment often reduce the hatch rate to less than three.  It takes two good parents to hatch all three eggs and protect and feed all three chicks to fledging.  If food is scarce, predators invade or the season is stormy, wet and cold some or all of the clutch may be lost.  If either parent is shot, poisoned, or dies of other causes no chicks will survive.  It takes two …

After fledging chicks face a number of challenges, including finding food, competing for food, avoiding predators, surviving weather, injuries, and human poisonings and shootings.  Some gull parents may assist chicks after fledging, the data on this is sparse.  Post-fledging assistance can improve survival rates.  If a chick survives the first winter then odds of reaching ‘adult’ status at age-four increase and the four-year adult Herring Gull may return to the natal colony to nest as an adult.

So what do we know about the three chicks of nest 14H321 who hatched in June 2014?

42C was banded July 19, 2014 at a monitored nest on Appledore Island and is pictured above on November 24, 2017 approaching four years of age. Sharon Harvell forwarded Scott’s November picture of 42C.  42C survived.

Sibling 41C was observed by Dr. Sarah Courchesne on Appledore Island in July 2017, thus documenting survival for 3 years as of July 2017.  42C survived and hopefully still survives.

Sibling 43C was reported at Ipswich, MA April 2017, at Sandy Point May 2017 and Salisbury Beach June 2017 making the three-year mark also.  Making  43C the third hatchling from nest 14H321 to survive to the three-year mark.  Supper-spotter Dave Adrian provided the reports for 43C

So, we have documented all three chicks from the same nest to the near-adults age of three.  Now, hopefully we will have more reports forthcoming on all three Herring Gulls, 41C, 42C, and 42C and eventually find all three nesting on Appledore Island in the next year or two.

Mention must be made of the many students and volunteers who helped with banding and spotting of the gulls; Sara Gonzales banded 41C, Justin Stilwell (now Dr. Stilwell) banded 42C, and Sarah Trifiletti banded 43C.  All three were assisted by other team members in capturing, holding, and properly releasing the ‘almost-ready-to-fledge’ adult-sized chicks.




Gull spotters, you’re invited!



Dear Volunteer,

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

We all have a story to tell. Join us for a captivating evening of stories from volunteers who like to get up close to nature. A first of its kind event at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth will feature the faces, places, and stories of citizen science in New Hampshire.

*FREE event, cash bar and light refreshments will be served. Registration is required (space is limited).


Click here for additional details and to register

We hope to see you there!



The Stories from the Field Planning Team:

Haley Andreozzi, UNH Cooperative Extension

Gretchen Carlson, Gundalow Company

Malin Clyde, UNH Cooperative Extension

Alyson Eberhardt, NH Sea Grant & UNH Cooperative Extension

Emily Lord, UNH Cooperative Extension

Abigail Lyon, Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP)

Caitlin Peterson, NH Sea Grant & UNH Cooperative Extension

A Third Year Great Back-backed Gull Called 9AM – Photo by Brad Natti

9AM by Brad Natti Oct 9 2017

9AM (band number not the time) was banded on Appledore Island as a chick soon ready to fly July 16, 2015 by the banding team including Allie Nadler.  9AM has survived two winters and is starting to look somewhat adult in plumage.

Brad Natti often has gulls about his lobster boat and if he sees a banded gull he obtains a photo when possible and has provided ‘Gulls of Appledore’ with numerous off-shore sightings.

9AM’s October 9th report reads like this:   “MA state waters ~3 miles N of Halibut Point State Park. Was in large group of other gulls and sea birds ( shearwaters and fulmars), was very aggressive towards other gulls and hung out on boat and near boat for almost 12 hrs. over about 6 miles.”  by Brad Natti October 9, 2017

Thanks Brad for the many photos and reports.

Recent October 2017 Sightings

U10 by Sandy Mauer Oct 10 2017

Sandy Mauer provides a photo of U10 on October 10, 2017 at Sandy Point State Reservation in Massachusetts.   U10 was banded as a nesting adult on Appledore Island in Maine in May of 2014.  The mate was unbanded that year, 2014.

U10 has nested on Appledore in Subsequent years.  In 2015, 2016, and 2017 U10’s mate was 33E.  33E was not banded until 2015 and may have been the unbanded mate in 2014.

An interesting side-note regards one chick from 2015, 07H. 07H was reported at Anglesea, Cape May, New Jersey in June of 2016.



Faithful K68 Greets the Rising Moon

Photo by Jill Young Oct 5 2017 at Horth Hamopton Beach NH

Photo of Herring Gull K68 is by Jill Young Oct 5, 2017 at North Hampton Beach in New Hampshire.

Herring Gull K68 was an adult gull when banded May 20, 2011 on Appledore Island in Maine as part of the ‘Gulls of Appledore’ long-term research effort. Most adult gulls banded on Appledore are banded in May at their nests. Both parents incubate and sometimes the banding team is able to band both. In this case with the mate wears band K65.
K68 is known to have nested every year since 2011 on Appledore Island except 2016.   K65 was the 2011 mate and was the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 mate, no different mate has ever been noted for K68.
K68 seems to have a reputation for ‘friendliness’ cadging goodies from beach-goers at Hampton Beaches in New Hampshire.

By request, some more K68 history:

In 2012 both K68 and K65 are recorded as incubating at the same nest, 12H11.

In 2013 K65 is recorded at 13H4 with K68 as mate. The 2013 nest is in the same area as the 2011 nest.

In 2014 K65 is recorded as the mate at nest 14H305 in the same area as 2011, 2012, and 2013 nests.

Nest in 2015 was in the same area as prior years and K65 is listed as K68’s mate.  The nest number was 15H620.

In 2016 K68 was not observed on Appledore Island.  The three reports received for K68 during the 2016 nesting season were from Hampton Beach, May 24, July 15 and July 19.  The July 19 report remarks that the gull (K68) appeared healthy and “In fact he stole our lunch”.  K65 in 2016 was reported in the area of the nests from earlier years but no nest was reported.

2017 records both K68 and K65 at nest 17H15 in the ‘usual’ area.

Nests are assigned new numbers each year on the basis of the next unused number for the year thus the nest number depends upon the route of the survey team and does not relate to past years locations.

2017 field season wrap up

Chris Martin (in hardhat) and David Mesta work on banding a gull. Amisha Malhotra (in hat) and Danielle Robidoux in background.

While the gulls are still tending the remaining fledglings (and there were some very late nest attempts this year), the humans involved in the Gulls of Appledore project are all off island now. After ten weeks in the field, our interns, David and Amisha have returned home. We banded around 200 chicks this July, which, given the marked decline in numbers of nests this year, is fairly respectable.

Next week, the summer interns on Appledore will present their research and projects at the first annual SML research symposium and we’re looking forward to this all day science extravaganza.


Franciel Moreno and Mary Everett head into the poison ivy fields to map nests.

We managed to GPS every nest on almost the entire island, having to leave only the southeastern-most swath undone–a torment to us as we raced to finish the work on our last day, but still a solid job nearly completed. It’s that mapping effort that allowed us to backup with data what we had sensed already: that the numbers of gull pairs on island took a substantial dive this year. In light of overall, multi-year declines, we are growing increasingly alarmed by this trend. Colleagues on other colonies throughout the Gulf of Maine are seeing similar drops. Why this is occurring is not known as of yet. We are hopeful that the numbers rebound next summer and this is not the start of a truly precipitous population crash in the birds.


Volunteer Jane Wing (left), Lawrence High School student Franciel Moreno, and Jinette Galarza (Northern Essex Comm. College student) enjoy a bit of downtime.

One thing we know for certain though, we are well into the dozens of students and other volunteers who have gotten a chance to come out and assist with banding and other activities. We have private donors, foundations, and grant agencies to thank for making that possible. For most of those who join us, time on Appledore among the gulls profoundly changes their outlook on the natural world, and on these oft-maligned, mostly overlooked birds. We are grateful to those generous funders, and look forward to bringing students and volunteers out for many years to come.


Close to the whole team in one place. Front row, left to right: Jinette Galarza, Malcolm, Alex, Rene Borrero, Sarah Courchesne, Simon. Back row, left to right: David Mesta, Mary Everett, Becky Suomala, Chris Martin, Danielle Robidoux, Eve Hallock, Franciel Moreno

Seabird interns hard at work

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.

FB_IMG_1498587477709Amisha 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.





20170619_142218David 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.