Date: 3/31/17 5:28 am From: Frank Mantlik via CTBirds <ctbirds...> Subject: [CT Birds] Gull research 3/30
3/30. Long Island Sound off Stratford, Bridgeport, and Milford. A team of COA bird researchers birded by boat on Long Island Sound for over 3 hours to research gull flocks that feed on plankton at this time of year. A feeding flock was encountered off the Stratford-Bridgeport shore comprised of an estimated 2500 Ring-billed, 100 Herring, 60 Bonaparte's and 1 (adult) Iceland Gull. Plankton tows caught the gulls' prey, which seem to be zooplankton, and will be positively identified by a noted marine biologist at UConn-Avery Point. These feeding flocks of gulls, which have numbered 50,000-100,000 (estimated) in past years, and occurs at this season along the SW CT coast, seems to be unique in the northeast. The COA research committee, headed by Tom Robben, seeks to quantify the numbers as well as identify the food species. [In recent weeks I have also documented these gulls feeding on Rough Barnacle spat (Balanus balanus or Semibalanus balanoides) by scraping it off tidal rocks with their beaks].
Thursday's trip was a successful one. Many thanks to Nick Bonomo for offering his boat, readied sooner than normal, to facilitate this research! It was a fun and productive voyage.
Frank Mantlik COA Research Committee Stratford, CT