This week’s photo, taken October 10, 2013 at Point No Point, WA, features a juvenile PARASITIC JAEGER. Although this gull-like species usually hangs out at sea, this individual kindly flies right past me and over land as it continues its southerly migration.
Last Thursday, I drive north along the Kitsap Peninsula to Point No Point, a spit of land known for good seabird viewing this time of year. But at mid-morning, I’m standing on the beach, scanning the waters of the Puget Sound with one eye glued to my spotting scope, and the only birds I find are so far off shore that, even with a scope, they are barely visible and certainly not identifiable. I will point out at this point that it seems pointless to be at Point No Point, pointing a scope at birds that resemble pinpoints, and if you think pointedly that I’m not scoring any points by expressing my point of view, then please point me in the right direction.
Hoping to earn points for patience, I stick around for a few hours, and by early afternoon, the feeding frenzy shifts much closer to shore. Now, through my scope, I watch dozens and dozens of BONAPARTE’S GULLS and HEERMANN’S GULLS as they race to snatch fish at the water’s surface before a competitor gets there first. The free-for-all becomes more chaotic when a PARASITIC JAEGER shows up and starts harassing and chasing birds with food, in hopes of stealing their catch.
Point No Point was named by U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes, the commander of the U. S. Exploring Expedition in 1841. From a distance, he thought it was a significant point of land, but it didn’t live up to his expectations when he sailed closer to the point that, in his opinion, wasn’t much of a point. During the same expedition, Wilkes also named Point Defiance near Tacoma, Washington, so apparently he was dealing with some negativity issues during his voyage. Perhaps he could have benefited from having a motivational speaker onboard.