Keeping out of trouble on Appledore

17 05 2013
Eviscerated Common Eider carcass; the work of a killer gull?

Eviscerated Common Eider carcass; the work of a killer gull?

I may be focused on the study of live gulls this week, but I never forget my roots, dear Seanetters. I have found more than 10 dead birds while here. Some were mere fragments of Northern Flickers or other smallish sorts of birds, but we also found a freshly dead female eider. Common Eiders nest on Appledore Island, very often in close proximity to gulls. The eiders don’t fare well, and most of the babies are picked off by Great Black-backed Gulls by season’s end. This adult showed the characteristic holes in the body wall that gulls often leave, and through which they pull the strands of viscera. Whether this bird was killed by a gull or merely scavenged by one is, as always, unclear.

I’ve found plenty of dead gulls, but my true prize was the gull skeleton still sporting his bands. I retrieved them, and collected the last data that he will ever contribute to this study.

Aside from dead birds, if you’d like to see what the team has been up to, please go visit Julie Ellis’ blog, The Gulls of Appledore, where I’ve tried to give an update on our activities here. Long days out here, but it’s been an utter joy as usual.

A hard day's work: at Smith's Cove.

A hard day’s work: at Smith’s Cove.

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