Today, 2/19, at 1 p.m. I went out at lunch to the north jetty at Ponce de
Leon Inlet, Volusia County. There were hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls and
Forster's Terns and dozens of Northern Gannets working just offshore and at
the mouth of the Inlet.

Whenever there is such a great feeding activity, the jaegers usually show
up. Today was no exception and at least 5 different jaegers, 1 Pomarine and
4 Parasitic Jaegers were working over the feeding birds putting on a
wonderful show. Then, at about 1:30, a new bird appeared from out farther on
the ocean. This was a small jaeger that came in fast and light into the
Inlet. This bird was very distinctive. The bird had a completely white head,
nape, throat, neck and the entire chest and belly were all white and
apparently unmarked. The upper surface of the wings, back and tail were all
dark, with no visible white patches or shafts. There was a lighter area on
the rump. There were two central tail feathers projecting a short way beyond
the tail.

The under-surface of the wings was dark, with no visible light patches. The
flight was fast, light and bouyant, and agile. The bird was small,
apparently smaller than the Parasitics, but this was hard to determine since
the birds were not seen together and all of the birds were watched at the
mouth of the Inlet, several hundred yards away. Unfortunately, too far away
to photograph.

The bird was observed through a spotting scope at 20 - 40x.
The bird was observed for about 1 minute at multiple angles and under
excellent lighting conditions. The unusual plumage, size and body
configuration seemed to best fit a 1st winter, pale type, Long-tailed
Jaeger.  It is certainly very unusual for a Long-tailed Jaeger to be in this
area in the winter.

If others have alternative interpretations, I would love to hear them.


Michael Brothers
Marine Science Center
Ponce Inlet

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