Today at 1:45 pm I found an adult winter plumaged RAZORBILL floating off the north jetty at Ponce Inlet, Volusia County.

I had been watching jaegers off the jetty, when I was following a Pomarine Jaeger in the scope racing from the end of the jetty back west toward shore. As I turned due north, a huge wave slammed into the jetty and sent water all over me. I wiped myself off and thought, well maybe I could pick the jaeger up again and I started to scan the ocean due north. I spotted something bouncing on the waves about 60 yards north of the end of the walkway on the jetty and thought that perhaps the jaeger had landed. When I found it again in the binocs, I went "Yikes!" this is something odd.  I got the scope on it and about fainted.  I could tell immediately that it was an Alcid. The surf was very rough and the bird floated high on the water appearing on top of the crests and disappearing into the troughs. I was able to watch the bird for about 40 minutes as it slowly drifted east toward the end of the jetty. By about 2:30 pm, I lost sight of the bird in the waves and could not relocate it.

The bird was floating very high on the water, looking like an elongated floating black and white football.  The entire underparts were pure white all the way to the throat. The tail was raised and gave excellent looks at the white undertail coverts. The bird showed clear white underparts that showed above the waterline.  The entire back and wings were black except for a thin white line that angled backwards and upwards across the wings and back. When seen from the rear they showed as two thin white lines that formed a "V" across the back. The head and back of the neck were black. The head showed a suffused white mark that wrapped around the back of the ear. The bill was a wide, blunt dark shape and no clear markings on the bill were visible under the conditions. 

A Ring-billed Gull came in at one point and landed near the bird briefly and gave me a good ability to judge the size.  It seemed slightly smaller than the Ring-billed Gull although a very different shape. 

I watched the bird for about 40 minutes until it drifted out of sight to the east.


Incidentally, the Great Cormorant and the Purple Sandpiper were both on the North Jetty this afternoon. The Glaucous Gull had left the beach.

Razorbill, Glaucous Gull, Great Cormorant and Purple Sandpiper is quite the northern bird-scape for Florida in one day!


Michael Brothers
Marine Science Center
Ponce Inlet

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