Date: 11/3/17 9:26 pm From: <ericwalters7...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...> Subject: IBET Pomarine Jaeger in Lake County Nov 3rd
Late in the day today I went out to North Point Marina as the winds had shifted to have some easterly component to the north winds. I was hoping to have some uncommon waterfowl fly close to shore at day's end. I did get 3 'dark-winged' Scoter and other common birds, also a Lesser Black-backed Gull roosting with the Herrings in the Marina. But I never thought I'd get a long extended look at a dark phase Pomarine Jaeger - flying north into the winds no less! What I posted in eBird I'm just copying below for those interested.
Also, had a perched Peregrine Falcon at IBSP South entrance road at 4 pm, then had a migrant Peregrine flying over Zion's Shiloh Park soon after that, so seemed like an end of day movement for that species and doubly nice to get good close views of perching and flyby birds.
Grandview, MO/Zion, IL
At 5:31 pm (10 minutes prior to sunset), I saw a dark bird offshore coming from the IBSP/NPM boundary and heading northward. I watched this bird for at least 3 minutes in a scope, it mostly staying in view, even though it was likely going through the troughs of waves. A few times it rose up above the water line, so was able to see it with this cloudy light background.
Bird immediately was noticed as bulky bodied, short tailed and wide wings (where they attached to the body) and very long wings proportionally. It was like a 'Peregrine Nighthawk' in jazz. That is, it seemed to have the body bulk of that falcon, along with an expressed strength and speed (even more evident in that it was forcing its way INTO the strong northerly winds!). At the same time, it has that long, pointed wings with a white marking near the tip of the underwing (seen a few times), like a Nighthawk has.
It made flying into this fairly strong north/northeasterly wind look like a mild exercise, like a hot knife cutting through butter, a totally amazing experience to visually see its strength and power. Sure, it likely benefit from intentionally riding in the wave troughs for much of the time, but still was able to look strong when it rose up above the horizon line, unlike the Herring Gulls that were leaving the marina and heading east out into the lake to roost, being buffeted and having a mild struggle.
The bird was most of the time seen as all dark, except for the occasional view of the white underwing arch near the wingtip. Thus, a dark phase bird. Tail was short, and a couple times it seemed as if the underbody had a tone of dark brown instead of all black, both marking which would fit a juvenile more than an adult. Lighting was quickly waning as sunset was only 7 minutes away when I last saw the bird flying into Wisconsin. I suppose there's still a chance this was an adult dark phase.
The November date also supports Pomarine (and immature) more than Parasitic (and adult), as a high percentage of November and later jaeger sightings in Illinois are of Pomarine.
Why this bird was flying north so quickly, when all other waterfowl offshore was heading south and the gulls going to roost directly east of here. It seemed like it was possessed to get somewhere before sunset, but not sure where/what place that would be so much to its liking. It's also obvious that this bird will have to come back south at some point, very likely back down Lake Michigan.