[CT Birds] scratch yesterday's jaeger, today's birds

Jamie Meyers ctredbird2 at comcast.net
Sun Jan 15 19:30:06 EST 2012

Glenn's note below prompts me to comment on some interesting raptor behavior we saw yesterday.  I was one of about a dozen birders on the second ferry out.  We were well into the Sound, still in CT but at least 2, maybe 3 miles out and well clear of the harbor when two adult Bald Eagles came flying by.  It took most of by surprise to see them that far out into the Sound.  Later, as the ferry was making its approach into New London but was still at least a half mile out of the entrance to the harbor, a Turkey Vulture came flying past the bow, heading west from Groton towards Waterford.  As Jay Kaplan commented, "no thermals out here, buddy!"

Thanks to Glenn for posting on the jaeger that wasn't.  Good birders know when to say "I don't know" and to admit when they've made an error.  We all do it.  The best of us learn from our mistakes. 

While I'm at it --

>From Jamie Meyers and Jay Kaplan:
1/15 -- Lebanon, horse farm area off Norwich Road -- HARRIS'S SPARROW, around 8:45 AM, in the hedgerow right by the road, just east (to the left as you walk in) of the dirt path that goes into the field.  No worries about mucking around today, the ground was frozen solid.
East Hartford -- Hockanum Linear Trail -- first-winter RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continues.
South Windsor, Vibert Road -- adult WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in the hedgerow just shy of the parking area at the end of the road.

No geese of any note seen today.  Broad Brook pond was loaded to the gills with Canadas and something good could have been in there but the birds were clustered together rather tightly and it would have been easy to overlook something in there.

Jamie Meyers
Canton, CT

----- Original Message -----
From: Glenn Williams <gswilliams9 at yahoo.com>
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Sent: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 17:51:01 -0000 (UTC)
Subject: [CT Birds] scratch yesterday's jaeger

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
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