On the Rhode again

10 02 2012

A quick escape from Sable Island.  A juvenile Great Black-backed Gull tagged ACU this winter (Jan 12) on Sable Island was found two weeks later on Sapowet Beach in Tiverton, Rhode Island (a 960 km displacement).  It looked conspicuously out of place not just because of its wing-tag but because it was the only Great Black-backed Gull among a flock of Herring and Ring-billed Gulls.  BJ Whitehouse found these birds foraging together on a sandbar of Sapowet Beach nearby to the Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Preserve.

I was surprised that this gull left Sable so soon after we tagged it.  The seal pupping season on Sable drags on well into late January so there still  would have been plenty of food available for a scavenging gull.  In the winter the Sable gulls feed on the carcasses of dead pups that didn’t quite make it.  While we were out there we noticed that the adult gulls seemed to have seniority over the carcasses, and juveniles (like ACU) often got chased away.  Maybe ACU had lost a few too many battles with the adult gulls on Sable and made its way to Rhode Island where it only had Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls to contend with?

Rob Ronconi, Halifax, NS

Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull ACU was found on Sapowet Beach in Tiverton, RI.

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