Movement of larids, including another good showing of Parasitic Jaegers - 3 Oct 2009

This morning, I seawatched for two-hours from Main Beach in the Village of East Hampton, Suffolk County. As forecast, the rain was heavy and unrelenting but the on-shore winds were not as strong as I’d hoped for. Consequently, the visibility was often limited to a few hundred yards, but occasionally improved revealing many more birds further out. Regardless, there were a decent number of larids moving eastward along the shore, primarily COMMON TERNS, LAUGHING GULLS and RING-BILLED GULLS. Laughing Gulls have been relatively scare on the South Fork so far this fall but now seem to be working their way east, as is typical for Oct and Nov. Perhaps because of the limited visibility, I did not see any shearwaters and surprisingly few seaduck. Interestingly, I re-sighted the albino Common Tern from last week indicating that some of the terns at least are lingering in the area rather than moving through.

The gulls and terns were pausing to snatch slender bait fish (likely sandlance, Ammodytes americanus), which seemed to be quite abundant. With this amount of activity, I was not surprised to see some PARASITIC JAEGERS (conservative estimate of 22 different birds). As with last weekend, this number seems well above average. One hapless Common Tern was chased onto the water by a squadron of five jaegers. That’s when you know it’s time to chuck up your breakfast!

** Main Beach, East Hampton (9:05-11:05 am) **
Black Scoter - 20
Northern Gannet - 38 (mix of ages)
Double-crested Cormorant - 7
Laughing Gull - 910+++
Ring-billed Gull - 370+++
Herring Gull - 60
Great Black-backed Gull - 9
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL - 1 ad. (flying on beach)
Common Tern - 410 ++
Forster’s Tern - 18
PARASITIC JAEGER - 22 (16 ads/near ads and 6 juvs)

** Sagg Mains, Bridgehampton **
Forster’s Tern - 20

** Mecox Bay Inlet, Watermill **
Forster’s Tern - 5
Greater Yellowlegs - 2
Tree Swallows - 5,000 (massive cloud of birds roosting in the phragmites beds on either side of the inlet)

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