This week’s photo, taken September 5, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a PARASITIC JAEGER (on the right) chasing a CALIFORNIA GULL.
It’s September, which means PARASITIC JAEGERS are migrating south through Puget Sound. This year, I hope to get closer looks of these exciting, fast-moving, acrobatic, food-stealing sea birds than I got last year when virtually all of them were flying far from shore.
Be careful what you wish for. When I spot my first jaeger of the season, it’s fairly close. It’s flying south rapidly and parallel to shore. After I take a few photos, the jaeger unexpectedly turns 90 degrees and flies directly toward me. It’s in pursuit of a gull that’s in-between it and me, and within a few seconds both birds are above the beach, attempting to outmaneuver each other. The jaeger lets out a loud squeal, separates from the gull and heads back out to sea. While resuming its journey south, it finds the time to harass another gull (see photo).
I was eager for a closer view of a jaeger this year, but I never expected to see one fifty feet away. It was astonishing how quickly the action developed, and then suddenly it was over. I now understand how a jaeger can startle a gull and cause it to drop its food. If I had any food on me at the time, I probably would have dropped it when that intimidating sea bird came at me.
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