Yesterday was Wednesday and for Ingrid and me . . . it was another whale watch . . . this time out of Boothbay Harbor. Once again we treated with the variety of sea birds moving around the boat and bored tourist (it can take several hours to get to the whales) peppering us with questions:
- “Whats that bird?”
- “Where do they sleep?”
- “What do they eat?”
Ingrid, being a teacher, is great and patient with her answers:
- “Great Shearwater”
- “They sleep on the water, putting one side of their brain to sleep at a time”
- “Fish, squid and krill”
I on the other hand tell the tourist about my Maine Big Year . . . and for some reason they nervously grab their children and move to the other side of the boat. Weird.
After about 90 minutes we hit a pod of Fin Whales, the second largest animal in the world (after the Blue Whale) and while everyone thrilled to the behemoths moving around the boat . . . Ingrid and I noted the dramatic uptick in birds. The tiny Wilson’s Storm-petrels were flittering about, feeding on krill, the same tiny shrimp that the whales were there for. Dozens of Great Shearwaters floated nearby and a lumbering Corey’s Shearwater came close to our boat . . . all enjoying the feast.
Then in the distance, Ingrid noticed something chasing a Shearwater . . . probably a Pomarine Jaeger . . . the bully of the ocean. Jaegers will wait for another seabird to grab some food and then chase it unmercifully, until it drops the food or regurgitates lunch. Then the Jaeger will settles in for a leisurely meal.
It’s just plain a nasty bird.
Because of the distance, we had to review the photos, but it was in fact a Pomarine Jaeger, Maine Bird Year Bird #300.
Not exactly, Chuck Yeager or Roger Bannister territory, but this makes me the 5th Maine birder to reach 300 in a single year (Cornell University keeps records are far back as 1882).