Monday, 12 August 2013

Parasitic Jaeger at Pelee

This past weekend, Laura and I made the drive down to the Point Pelee area so meet up with the usual crew to look for birds, bugs, and anything else of interest. The main event, certainly the highlight of the weekend,was a barbeque hosted by Kory and Sarah Renaud on the Saturday evening. But the avian highlight for me was certainly a jaeger that some of us saw along the West Beach Footpath.

A large group of us had taken the tram down to the tip and were in the process of walking up the west beach footpath, in search of primarily interesting butterflies. I believe the group at this point included Blake Mann, Jeremy Bensette, Jeremy Hatt, Chris Law, Pauline Catling, Steve Pike, Mike (can't recall last name), Kory Renaud, Laura Bond, and I (hopefully I didn't miss anyone!). I was near the back of the group near Kory Renaud when he noticed an odd bird flying north and passing over us. He alerted me to it and I looked up to see a jaeger cruising on by! I called out "jaeger" and most of the group was able to see it briefly. I was focused on trying to take photos and despite the autofocus on my camera set to the wrong setting, I was able to have one frame where the bird was in focus and not obscured by trees! Here it is without a crop. The tree in the foreground is the well known "Serengeti Tree".

Here it is cropped:

And cropped some more.

My initial impression in the field, based on the very brief look, was of a large barrel chested jaeger and so I tentatively called it a Pomarine. But looking at the photo, it appears to be a subadult (2nd alternate?) Parasitic Jaeger. Later, as we were milling about near the west side of the tip parking lot, I got on the jaeger again, this time heading west straight over the lake. Unfortunately it never banked and the looks were far from conclusive.

Jaegers are rare but regular at Point Pelee, but a record this early in August is unusual. Long-tailed would probably be the "expected" species this time of year. I'm not sure what to make of this record - an early returning migrant? A summering bird? Several jaegers have already been noted in a few locations on Lake Ontario and Erie already this summer, including several Parasitic in Buffalo.


  1. Josh, Were you behind (east of) the Serengeti Tree when you took the photo? Trying to visualize the whole deal, but if the bird was flying north I think that must have been where you were standing?

    1. We were walking north along the main footpath. The photo was taken towards the north east as the jaeger banked and headed east.

  2. Previous early-fall records for Parasitic Jaeger at Point Pelee are July 30 (1989), August 17 (1981) and August 18 (1984).

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  4. Makes me laugh at how many rare/interesting things are seen near "the Serengeti Tree"...this one tops them all?! LOL

  5. I think Point Pelee's first-ever Black Vulture flying over the Serengeti tree (1981) was more significant!