Thursday, November 11, 2010

Banded Glaucous Gull from Nunavat

I was very pleased to discover the origin of my banded adult Glaucous Gull. Thanks to some help from Joe Kaplan who recognized the "federal band" and some word of mouth via the internet I received an E-mail form Louise Laurin from the Canadian Wildlife Service letting me know the bird had been banded at South Plain, Bylot Island , Nunavut.

Adult Glaucous Gull from Nunavut

Subsequently I was thrilled to hear from the bander- Jean-Francois Therrien who added that "I marked this Glaucous Gull  as a fledlging on Bylot Island, in August of 2007". Thus this is a 4th year bird and its first year in fully adult plumage. The distance from Bylot Island to Sault Ste. Marie is a mere 3,005 km  as the gull flies,

Bylot Island, Nunavut to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario as the gull flies

I am reasonably well travelled especially in North America but I must admit I have never heard of Bylot Island. Well it is off the north-east corner of Baffin Island in Canadas newest province Nunavut.
It is a large island in fact the 72nd largest island in the world. At 11,067 square kilometers its just a touch smaller than Jamaica. No Sandals resort however.

Bylot Island, Nunavut, Canada

It was discovered by the arctic explore Robert Bylot in 1616 during his search for the North West Passage. Apparently it has a very rugged coast with a mountainous interior and many glaciers.

Sattelite image of Bylot Island showing its multiple glaciers

Bylot Island was designated a Migratory Bird Sanctuary in 1965. It has some fantastic sea cliffs that provide nesting locations for a large number of seabirds including 320,000 Thick-billed Murres and 50,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes (I wonder if this is the origin of the Kittiwakes seen each fall on Lake superior).

Thick-billed Murre-St.Paul, Alaska

Black-legged Kittiwake - St. Paul, Alaska

Apparently there is a large plain in the southwest of the island that holds about 75,000 breeding Snow Geese and of course Glaucous Gulls. In 1999 Sirmilink National Park was incorporated an included Bylot Isaland and some surrounding areas. Along with over 50 species of breeding birds the island houses at least 150 Polar Bears.

Mt. Thule on Bylot Island by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris

Lawren Harris painted Mt. Thule on Bylot Island in 1930. It isn't clear to me whether he visited the area or not. Interestingly Lawren Harris and his associates in the Group of Seven arguably the most well known and quintessential Canadian artists really made their names painting landscapes largely in Algoma the area surrounding Sault Ste. Marie. 

Getting back to gulls the LBB Gull below was photographed at Daytona Shores on Feb. 22th , 2009. It took me about a year and a half to find out its history. The story is quite remarkable and I will share it with you on my next post.

Banded celebrity adult Lesser Black-backed Gull - Daytona Shores, Florida

The local gull situation is slower than expected. The Vega Gull was never seen again despite extensive searching. Currently there are several first year and at least one adult Great Black-backed Gull around with several juveniles and at least one second winter and one adult Thayer's Gulls. The numbers of Kumlien's Gulls is low with just one juvenile bird that I have noted. Despite a few early Glaucous Gulls there are none around currently. Apparently there is lots of open water up in James and Hudson's Bay (pers comm Alan Wormington) and this might be responsible for the relatively poor movement so far of arctic gulls.

Kirk Zufelt

1 comment:

  1. Great post Kirk. Bylot is a place I've long wanted to visit.