[CT Birds] Results Plankton Feeding Gulls from last week
dennisvz at optonline.net
Mon Mar 26 06:28:41 EDT 2012
Sorry for the delay, things happened.
People have a subjective sense of distance. What is far to one is
close to another. In college, local students didn’t think much about
driving 30 miles for a burger. Living in Fairfield, my mother wasn’t
much concerned about going to Stratford for Shopping. But Norwalk,
“Do we have to go all the way out there?” Near and far is as much
about habit as actual distance.
When comparing sense of distance to birds, “As the crow flies” has as
much perception as truth to it. Wings allow the coverage of distances
in small amounts of time that we often underestimate. We see a bird
in an area and expect it to be there, or the general area, all the
time. The use of tracking devices has helped, but is still a problem
for the average person. I read a paper about winter eagles in Maine
and they found it was not unusual for some to spend the day on Long
Island and still return to roost at night. We see a bunch of gulls on
Long Beach in Stratford, we expect them to hang out there all the
time, or maybe over to Seaside Park in Bridgeport. Is it really that
hard for them to travel to New Haven Harbor, Norwalk Islands, or Port
Jefferson for the day?
In trying to understand the interaction between the gulls and
barnacle larvae we wanted as many observations of gulls as possible
to see how the observed distribution is different than during a non-
barnacle episode. We has observations as far west as Greenwich and as
far east as Madison.
Plankton Feeding Gulls were seen in the area around Charles Island in
Milford. Observers estimated numbers to be less than 5,000 and rather
scattered. Further east smaller numbers were seen in West Haven near
the Milford Border. In New Haven Harbor no concentrations were
observed, In Guilford off Shell Beach a small group of less than 500
were seen, and none further east.
Last Year there were 10’s of thousands of gulls off the headlands of
Stratford, Lordship to Black Rock Harbor in Bridgeport. This year
birds were scarce in Lordship on Friday 16 Mar., but on the 17th
numbers were low in the morning but increased in the afternoon to an
estimated 3,000 birds.
From Chimon Island and west to Stamford, Shippan Pt. there were well
over 10,000 birds on Friday 16th but were gone the next day.
The peak of activity was in the area between Penfield Reef in
Fairfield and Cockenoe Island in Westport. Overall there were well
over 30,000 birds present. Observers in the morning reported gulls
close to shore in the morning and drifting further out in the
afternoon. This indicates the plume of larvae were being pulled out
with the tide.
The next day and increasing the the next several days, were record
temperatures and a lot of morning fog and haze which inhibited
The barnacle event started on Friday in the Greenwich-Stamford then
shifted the next day to the Westport-Fairfield area. East of there
only small plumes were seen in Milford and Guilford. The Gulls
observed appear to follow the plumes from great distances. So, on
those days when the gulls “disappear” from the beaches and are not
seen directly off shore were expected, are well likely to be miles away.
The distribution of the barnacle plumes are centered in the area from
Stratford to Norwalk. Beyond this area they can be found in small
numbers. As to when they occur is still problematical. For this
event there was satellite data on Chlorophyl-a. On the 16th. There
was no measurable Chlorophyl-a. while on the 18th, the western sound
was dark with it!
There are many kinds of algae with many kinds of Chlorophyl.
Chlorophyl-a is the bright green color found in most of the common
algae. Because it is colorful it can be measured by the intensity of
This past weekend, Drifts of gulls continued to be seen off
Fairfield, but smaller numbers. I would guess that The gulls would
have been of Stratford last week if they could be seen. Now, the
final phase of the event should be seen. On jettys and rocky shore
one will see the gulls scraping the rocks with the sides of their
bills to get at the tasty tidbits.
Another thought on my mind is “How do Boanapartes Gulls fit into
this?” Considering their small size one would expect them to really
like barnacles. However, their migration in the state tends to be at
the tail-end of the “season” so would only occasionally be
experienced by them. When they do meet, they are rarely seen feeding!
Is there something out there they like better?
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