Saturday, 1 September 2012

Jaegers and Sabine's Gulls at the beach

A great day to head down to the beach today...

I didn't make it to Van Wagner's Beach today until shortly after 3 this afternoon because I was meeting up with a friend, but I think I timed it perfectly!

Within minutes of arriving, Gavin Platt picked out a jaeger not too far out with turned out to be a sub-adult Long-tailed Jaeger. It was a new Ontario bird for him, so congrats! Not 5 minutes later I was scanning when I came across a group of 3 Parasitic Jaegers harassing a gull very close. This was the last jaeger I needed for the year, year bird #330. In ten minutes we had seen more jaegers than the entire morning and afternoon until then.

The fun would not end there! We kept having jaegers flying by and harassing gulls - mostly Parasitics, but at least one juvenile-ish Long-tailed Jaeger chasing an adult Parasitic at a close range. Pretty incredible to see these guys up close!

As the afternoon started to turn into the evening things got a lot better. I was checking out some distant jaegers when I noticed some gulls rising off the water that appeared to be Sabine's Gulls. The whole group got on them and they all appeared to be Sabine's! We had a count of 52 of them as they swirled around above the water after being harassed by the jaegers. Even more astonishing was the fact that at least 6 adult birds were mixed in. Only occasionally are adult Sabine's Gulls seen in Ontario, so to see 6 was unprecedented. Needless to say the 52 Sabine's Gulls was a high count for Hamilton, and probably southern Ontario. Throughout the rest of the time I was there groups of Sabine's would occasionally be seen, so there could have been more than 52.

It was a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours, though I was a little tired of explaining to all the passerbys what we were "photographing" with our spotting scopes! Tomorrow I am leaving for Canadas' right coast (Nova Soctia) for a few days. See you all on the 11th! I'll post updates about all the cool birds I'll see out there :)

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