After some encouragement from Paul Peake, I decide to
make the Puny Twitch's first pelagic trip. As you can
imagine, heading out into Port Philip Bay by bicycle
isn't easy so the end of Station Pier (Port Melbourne)
had to do. As it turned out it was more productive
than I imagined.
The first bird I noticed (apart for the ubiquitous
gulls) was a Pied Cormorant, swimming about just
metres below me. It looked up expectantly - I suspect
it may get hand-outs from the fisher folk who frequent
the pier. I must have seen hundreds of these birds,
but never at such close quarters. What I had always
considered to be a rather plain looking bird was
actually quite striking. Its vivid blue eye-ring and
yellow facial skin appeared to glow.
Whilst checking out the cormorant I heard a 'carrik'
from above and looked up to see a Crested Tern glide
past. This was soon joined by several more tracking
back and forth just off the end of the pier. The day
was still but heavily overcast, so the views of this
smart looking bird were great.
I began watching a flock of terns diving into the
water, a couple of hundred metres out, when I noticed
a graceful dark bird approaching from further beyond.
At first glimpse it reminded me of a falcon or hawk
but as it got closer it was clearly a jaegar. It began
relentlessly harassing the terns, weaving this way and
that, showing amazing aggression. At one stage it
seemed to take hold of one. The pair dropped several
metres locked together, parting only moments before
hitting the water. The whole display lasted for about
ten minutes giving fantastic views. When Paul first
suggested jaegers as a possibility I said I'd never be
able to identify one offshore. In the end (armed with
a couple of field guides) it was relatively easy to
identify this agile aerobat as an Arctic Jaeger. A
bonus bird bringing the tally to 88.
All at sea,
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