While individual Parasitic Jaegers can be seen year-round here (which include some non-breeding birds that spend the summer offshore), fall is one of the best times to see numbers of these pirates of the high seas including their wide range of variation in age and color morph. One of the best areas to view these birds is in the Cape May "Rips", the tumultuous upwelling caused by rising and falling tides streaming over and around underwater topography at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. These upwellings bring nutrients to the surface, which increase food availability from the tiniest zooplankton to the largest marine mammals. In the middle of this faunal continuum, of course, are the birds; dominated by gulls and terns.
|Three adult light-morph Parasitic Jaegers harassing a Laughing Gull|
© David La Puma
Cape May "Rips", October 2015.
|A more "typical" view from shore, a distant immature dark-morph |
Parasitic Jaeger circling back on a laughing gull. © Clay Taylor
Cape May "Rips", September 2016.
|A lone Common Eider was also present near shore on the east side of the|
St. Peter's Jetty © David La Puma
|Swarovski Optik Nature (North America)'s Naturalist Market Manager,|
Clay Taylor, digiscopes jaegers a mile away through his Swarovski ATX
spotting scope. © David La Puma
|Gulls are a stumbling block for many new to birding...|
but when they pose together nicely like this, they're downright easy!
L->R: Herring Gull, two Great Black-backed Gulls, and Lesser Black-backed Gull
© David La Puma
For more information please feel free to stop by NJ Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory, at 701 E Lake Drive, Cape May Point, 08212. We're open and here for you daily from 9:30am - 4:30pm.