Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jaegerfest 2013

Some birders in Wisconsin might consider Wisconsin Point the end of the rainbow in terms of the quality of birding.  For the most part, I would have to agree. Wisconsin Point definitely seems to harbor its share of highly sought after birds.  For me, pretty much any time I find myself by the shores of Lake Superior it seems I'm near that ethereal pot of gold.  Although the industrial waters near Superior, WI  don't quite measure up to pristine shores in eastern Upper Peninsula, there's still much to draw me to the southeast corner of Lake Superior at least a few times each year. Without a doubt, sunrises are still spectacular in this corner of the lake and the weather put up by Lake Superior makes for some visual delights regardless of where I might find myself along its shores.

The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology's Jaegerfest is one reason I've been visiting Wisconsin Point the last several years.  While I don't want to rehash the details of this fun weekend as others have provided an excellent summary of the trip, here are few moments I treasured from this year's event.

The jaegers were plentiful both in quantity and quality! In some years past, we have been lucky to see a single distant Parasitic Jaeger during the three day trip.  This year jaegers abounded daily with endless aerial displays.  The number of individual birds was surmised to be at least 6 on the first official day of Jaegerfest!

Parasistic Jaeger, sub adult

Parasitic Jaeger chasing a Ring-billed Gull

"Notch" the Parasitic Jaeger of notoriety present since late August

With recent sightings of Long-tailed Jaegers in late August and early September, I came to Jaegerfest with the hope that I would encounter this species to add to my Wisconsin life list.  Quite handily, my first day at Wisconsin Point, I was fortunate to see and photograph a juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger called out by trip leader, Tom Schultz.  Before we came to ID this jaeger as a Long-tailed, Erik Brunke and I were on it taking photographs as it was uniquely quite darker than any jaeger we had seen for the day.  This was Wisconsin year bird 301 for me.

Long-tailed Jaeger, juvenile
Long-tailed Jaeger, juvenile

Then greed set in, as if seeing one Long-tailed Jaeger on the Great Lakes wasn't enough I began to crave a look at the nicely plumaged subadult that others had reported.... Luck would have it when later in the weekend, the subadult Long-tailed Jaeger gave great looks as it lazily flew right over the crowd of birders at the Lot 1 beach. Cheers went out from the elated group.  We were all in awe of the stunning views. The joy of the moment was infectious providing reinforcement to the reasons why I gravitate toward the social aspects of birding, good times, good birds, good people.

Long-tailed Jaeger, sub-adult
Long-tailed Jaeger, sub-adult

Although some of us in early attendance were fortunate to see a Sabine's gull on Thursday, the majority of the Jaegerfesters got their Sabine's Gull Sunday when one flew in late to the party on the last day of Jaegerfest.  To our delight it landed on the water near shore providing stunning views when it took flight (Recommend setting video to HD at bottom right).

Sabine's Gull
As I alluded to earlier, these group birding trips are just as much about the people as the birds. Jaegerfest is a reunion of sorts and a fun opportunity to bird, eat and drink with new and old friends.

There are veteran faces that seem integral and symbolic to what Jaegerfest has come to represent for me.  Here are some of the cast of Jaegerfest characters...

Our humble and exceptionally knowledgeable trip leader, Tom Schultz...

Tom Schultz
Daryl Tessen, an original jaegerfester and veteran birder who makes Jaegerfest into a week long trip.
Daryl Tessen

Robbye Johnson, resident Superior, WI veteran birder and all around cool person.  She's been celebrating with the jaegers from the beginning!

Robbye Johnson (right)

Ty and Ida Baumann....Ida handily spotted the Sabine's Gull that flew in and landed on the water the last day of Jaegerfest...Thanks Ida for your keen spotting!

Ty and Ida Baumann

Jerry Smith (this guy knows how to have good time)....Big thanks to Jerry this year for putting out seed at his RV site and drawing in the only Harris's Sparrow I've seen in Wisconsin this year.

Jerry Smith
It's always a treat to catch up with my fellow WI eBird teammates Nick Anich and Ryan Brady (not pictured) when I make it up to the northwest corner of Wisconsin.  And of course, I have many treasured Jaegerfest memories I've shared with two of my favorite traveling birder buddies, Tom Prestby and Tim Hahn.

Hear no evil, see no evil...Tom Prestby, Nick Anich and Tim Hahn

Friday's line-up with buddy, Erik Brunke another fixture to the Jaegerfest scene. Salutations to all the jaegers!

Brunks, pictured second from the right. "Salut to all things jaeger!"

Gallery of some more Parasitic Jaeger shots...

Parasitic Jaeger (below) with Bonaparte's Gull

Parasitic Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger with Ring-billed Gul

Parasitic Jaeger, subadult

Parasitic Jaeger with Herring Gull

Parasitic Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger, Juvenile

Parasitic Jaeger, Juvenile

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the bird and people pics, an all around great blog post!