Yesterday, September 20th, there was a large flock of ring-billed and herring gulls patrolling the buoys in the waterway to the East of Graham Point. Mixed in and incessantly harassing the gulls, was an adult parasitic jaeger. This is the second time I have found this species, the other was a juvenile. Both times they have been by these green buoys. The bird never came close and eventually soared over the bridge headed west with the rest of the gull flock.
Approximately 5 minutes later, and still checking my notes on jaeger identification, I found another jaeger flying even more distantly. This bird appeared to have a longer tail projection than the parasitic that had just flown by, but it was too far to make out any discernible features. Even though I was able to watch the bird soar and “shearwater”, a behavior involving gliding low over the water and waves, I didn’t feel comfortable assigning this bird to species. So I left it at “jaeger sp.” in the data, but if I had to guess, my impression was this was a long-tailed jaeger. Long-tailed jaegers are generally the most pelagic of the jaeger species, so this bird is somewhat rarer in the great lakes region. However, they breed in the arctic tundra, and individuals come down this way in migration while searching for the open seas.
Although today was a very slow day, the waterbird count has gotten pretty active. Common loon, red-throated loon, red-necked grebe, common goldeneye, all the mergansers, and a handful of others are seen fairly regularly. I found the first surf scoter the other day, and white-winged scoters have appeared on multiple occasions. Scoters are a fan-favorite for most birders, myself included. Watching these luminant animals fly by is something I look forward to increasing in the next few weeks. Still waiting for a big day of waterfowl to move into the area, but love the beautiful days on the water!