**if you have seen a tagged gull, please contact Dan Clark directly (info at bottom of post)! Comments posted here are welcome, but we do not run the tag program, so we aren’t the ones who need the details!**
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is engaged in ongoing research on gulls and their potential impacts on drinking water reservoirs in the state. Three species of gull, Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed, are continually being captured, banded and released in an effort to learn more about the travels and activities of the birds when they are not visiting the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs.
In addition to the standard issue leg bands used in most bird studies, DCR birds are also tagged with conspicuous, brightly colored wing tags. This enables even casual observers without binoculars to report sightings.
This past week, the SEANET blogger spotted a Ring-billed Gull with a fluorescent pink wing tag in Ogunquit, Maine. The bird was begging chips and sandwiches off of beach-goers. Upon contacting Dan Clark at DCR, the blogger learned that this bird was captured in Shrewsbury in central MA back in October. She’s an adult female, and had not been seen since her tagging. The blogger was thus quite gratified to help out by reporting this bird. Though thousands of people were on the beach with the tagged bird, no one had apparently bothered to find out where to report the tag. So never assume a bird you see has already been reported; all sightings are valuable!
SEANET Local Coordinator, Jamie Bogart of the Lloyd Center in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, has also seen a number of these tagged gulls and inquired with SEANET about where to report sightings. If you should encounter one of these gulls (and really anyone could given the great distances the birds often travel), please contact Dan Clark (Dan.Clark@state.ma.us) or Ken Mackenzie (Ken.Mackenzie@state.ma.us). And be sure to check out their study website where you can learn all about their work and even follow the movements of some of their satellite tagged birds.