Date: 11/3/17 11:56 am From: Ned Brinkley via va-bird <va-bird...> Subject: [Va-bird] Jaeger show in Chesapeake Bay
Over the past month, almost 50 Parasitic Jaegers have been noted from the Cape Charles/Kiptopeke area over the Chesapeake Bay. Most have been traveling southward at a rapid clip but not far from shore. On occasion, they stop to harass gulls or terns for a fish, providing a nice aerial show for a bit. Yesterday, 8 Parasitics passed Cape Charles, and today, 15 Parasitics, 1 juvenile Long-tailed (extremely late and thought to be rare here), and 1 unidentified were logged between 7 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Surely, many more were missed, as they tended to move through the area in just a minute or so.
These numbers are quite small compared to Atlantic coastal sites this fall, some of which have reported record-high counts of Parasitic Jaegers (in some places, 30+ in view at once). But for little-studied Chesapeake Bay, these numbers are unprecedented. Normally, to record a few in the fall in hundreds of hours of patient watching is lucky here. Perhaps this was a very good breeding year for jaegers; or perhaps the baitfish are still in the Bay (water temps still in the high 60s F). Many terns were also on the move southward today (mostly Royal; a few Forster's, Sandwich, 1 very late Common).
For those going birding on the coast this weekend, a scope is ideal to enjoy (and be able to identify) jaegers. Most field guides to North American birds do not do the three species justice, as they show incredible variation in plumages, but several guides to European birds do, and there are specialty books as well. I would think that any vantage from a shoreline could produce a jaeger sighting in the first few hours of light. Normally, jaegers are attracted to groups of feeding gulls and terns, but most of today's birds were flying strongly southward, mostly very close to the surface of the water.