Jaegers and more jaegers

One of two immature Pomarine Jaegers on the November 5th, 2011 Local Patch Birding pelagic trip off of Vermilion/Lorain/Huron. Photos by Sherrie Duris. Note the massively heavy build of the bird, particularly in the chest and base of wings, the double-flash on the underwing, the thick bill, the overall one-color dark chocolate-brown color, the barred rump and flanks, and on other photos to-be-posted-soon, the short and blunt central rectrices (central tail feathers) that barely stick out from the rest of the tail. Flight style deep and powerful, not as light-on-the-wing as Parasitic. Lazier. Amazing on-the-wing chase performances but not as adept as Parasitic, a master at hard-edge turns and wheels.

The second Local Patch Birding pelagic ran out of Vermilion today from 8 am to 2:30 pm, visiting Vermilion and Lorain Harbors and out to 9 miles onto the lake offshore Huron. A truly gorgeous day, weather wise, allowed for brilliant lighting on birds. Huge highlights were two immature Pomarine Jaegers and one subadult Parasitic Jaeger. One of the Pomarines showed up in our wake at 6 miles offshore, and followed us (plus us chasing IT in phenomenal banks and turns) for three miles. Incredible point blank looks as the bird flew behind, in front of, and beside the boat, too close for the camera to grab sometimes, and chased Bonaparte’s, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls in aerial battles beside and right over the boat. It even dive-bombed a Horned Grebe on the water and was at one point chased by a vengeful Bonaparte’s Gull. The subadult Parasitic came in to the wake of the boat at 4.5 miles offshore just NW of Lorain. It gave chase to multiple gulls then gave brilliant shots off of the side of the boat. The second Pomarine came in to the wake at 4 miles offshore of Vermilion to the NE, giving brief views before it faded off to the east. Many more photos to be posted in the next couple of days at: http://www.northnw.wordpress.com.

Additional highlights included hundreds of Common Loons, Horned Grebes, nearly a thousand Red-breasted Mergansers, two Black Scoters, two Surf Scoters, a flock of Snow Buntings offshore Vermilion by 2 miles, a single third year Lesser Black-backed Gull (that followed in our wake for 15 miles), and a Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Duck and Bufflehead in Lorain Harbor. Several Great Black-backed Gulls, American Coots, many cormorants, and an adult Bald Eagle a half mile off of Lorain.

Thanks to ALL for a brilliant day in the field.

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