Monday, October 26, 2009

Race Point Pelagics

A non-birding trip from my beach house to provincetown, on the tip of cape cod, brought me to race point beach. I had been reading the reports of hundreds of shearwaters being seen there, and there had even been a sabine's gull the previous day. My expectations were not for hundreds of anything or any rarities, but I thought that I might see a couple birds.

From the visitor's center, I could scope a greater shearwater and lots of terns. Some were probably roseate, but I still can't tell them apart, especially from over a mile away. Still, the shearwater was my first from land. A whale was spotted, right next to a whale watch boat, but I didn't see it.

I hurried down to the beach, and set up my scope.

By the way, my scope is not great. It is a $60 scope on a $15 dollar tripod. It has gotten me some cool birds I wouldn't have seen otherwise (Barnacle Goose, Harlequin Duck, etc), but in terms of magnification and quality, it isn't great.

As a result, I didn't get great looks at any of a couple shearwaters that flew by. But I had had my great shearwater looks in July (see earlier post), so it was no problem.

My dad spotted a bird flying fast toward us. Really fast, with really strong wingbeats. Gull size, chasing a tern. Any guesses?

Yep, it was a jaeger. And luckily, it was a light adult, so id was not impossible. Too dark for long tailed, to small for pomeraine. Long, pointed central tail feathers. Parasitic Jaeger. Lifer.

In an amazing display of acrobatics, it and the tern dove, spun, twisted, and did pretty much everything to get away or keep up. I'm not sure who won, but I think it was the jaeger. It flew off and landed on the water, next to another bird. The second bird- my second ever jaeger. I can only assume it was parasitic. I didn't get a good enough look to be sure.

Really awesome birds.

A close up seal was the next prize, and we headed home.


Oh, and I realized why there hadn't been hundreds of shearwaters, etc. That report had been from 5:30 in the morning. I prefer my method.

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