[CT Birds] scratch yesterday's jaeger

Glenn Williams gswilliams9 at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 15 12:51:01 EST 2012

After photo review, the potential jaeger reported in NY waters yesterday turned into harrier. Before you laugh at such a blunder - it is actually worse.  And it shows the dangers of bird identification by elimination and the importance of first impression.

When I first I got on the bird, I thought harrier immediately.  Though not a hawk-watcher, I am well aware that a common miss-identification is a harrier flying outside of its normal flight mode.  Like any raptor, harriers can look and act quite differently in various situations.  I 
could not see a white rump or field marks on the back-lit bird other than all-dark 
brown.  The
 wings were very falcon-like and it was flying not unlike a jaeger in non-chase mode.  We were looking down on it as we
 were on the upper deck.  I confess to never having seen a harrier 
flying low and hard over the water from above.  So despite watching a harrier and thinking it was a harrier, I didn't see the white rump and dismissed it.  Not a peregrine either.  Through process of elimination, it had to be a Pomarine Jaeger, right?  Whoops.  When later told that it really was a harrier, I still didn't believe it because I had already eliminated it.  Double whoops.  What does crow taste like?  The other mystery bird is still a mystery, but it is not a jaeger either.  Live and learn.

On another note, it seems that each ferry ride is unlike the next.  We had seven adult kittiwakes, lots of Razorbills, but no murres.  Coming in, we passed the next ferry coming out.  They had no Razorbills in Connecticut waters, no kittiwakes (despite going through where we had ours fifteen minutes earlier), but three Common Murres.  Exciting times in the Sound.

Glenn Williams

More information about the CTBirds mailing list