Is Martin the Seagull Gone for Good?

Martin the seagull Judy Smith Photos

Martin the seagull is missing.

It was about four years ago that Judy Smith, who has a house in Barnes Landing, noticed a seagull walking around on her deck and gave it something to eat. The seagull stuck around and visited Ms. Smith and her husband every weekend, loudly knocking its beak on their back window to say hello.

Then, about a month and a half ago, Martin disappeared.

From the start, Ms. Smith fed her seagull friend mostly Martin’s Potato Bread, for which she named the webbed-footed visitor. Martin continued to stop by regularly, visiting multiple times a day during the summer.

Ms. Smith developed affection for the bird, and he seemed to like her, too, sometimes eating directly out of her hand.

Martin usually took a long break from October to April, perhaps to migrate south for the winter. By September he looked very ragged, but in the spring he was beautiful, Ms. Smith said fondly, with his grey wings and snow-white underside.

While it may seem unlikely that a single seagull would continually visit one house, Ms. Smith feels quite certain that was the case. “Martin has a little red mark on his beak,” she explained, “and he has the same mannerisms.” Herring gulls tend to have a red spot on their bills, but Martin had other unique characteristics. He does not squawk, he is large, and he only comes alone, chasing other seagulls away if they get too close.

“About four to six weeks ago he didn’t tap on the back window or show up,” Ms. Smith said.

Martin is no Yogi Bob, the dog lost in Georgica in 2016 and almost miraculously reunited with its owner this year, but Ms. Smith is curious about the bold bird’s absence, wondering why he no longer visits and whether there might be a general decline in the seagull population on the South Fork this year. She visited the East Hampton Recycling Center, where there are usually hundreds of seagulls, and said there seemed to be fewer this year.

Martin “isn’t a dump-type bird,” she said.

Perhaps Martin will come knocking again soon, and Ms. Smith said she will have his potato bread ready.

Martin the seagull faithfully visited Judy Smith during all four seasons of the year, but he has been absent of late.