Saturday, November 08, 2008


After several days in which rain shut down most banding activities, we finally reopened all of the banding stations yesterday morning. Unfortunately, the results were still not good. The "best" bird of the day (at my station, anyway) was a purple berry-stained sharpie. (Unfortunately, I did not get photographs of it.) Midway through the day, we got a call about a rare bird being seen at St. Mary's Jetty - a thick-billed murre.

Normally found off eastern Canada and New England, this alcid comes this far south only rarely. So we closed up and went down to see it. The murre was floating in the surf about 10-20 feet offshore. For a long time it hung around the jetty; then suddenly it started swimming westward towards the bay. It appeared to be injured, and gulls (both herring and great black-backed) would occasionally harass it. Eventually it grew more distant from land and disappeared.

While we were standing on the beach, with a flock of other birders, some other interesting birds passed by, including a parasitic jaeger, Bonaparte's gulls, northern gannets, and a lot of royal terns.