Mick, as the local birders have started to call him, was first found last Sunday night at the small beach at the entrance to the fishing pier at Fort Desoto. Jaegers are pelagic birds, who spend most of their time out in the open ocean and can usually only be seen miles offshore in the air. This was the first sighting reported so close to land in the Pinellas county area. I drove down to Fort Desoto Wednesday night after work looking for him. No sign of him. Several other birders where out looking for him with no luck. He was reported there that morning. Then I heard he was back the next day. Saturday morning I headed back down to the beach to try again. This time I had luck. Along with a huge crowd of people who had driven far away, some as far as a two-hour drive, to see him up close. When I first got to the park is was cloudy with a little drizzle.
He was on the sea wall near the pier and spent a while preening himself and ignoring all the photogs staring at him. At this point he had been on land for 6 days. Everyone was wondering if something was wrong with him. He appeared okay.
At one point, a group of us were standing far back in grass. We see a man walking along the sidewalk that was up against the sea wall. We saw him heading for the bird and everyone was waving and calling for him to walk around instead of right by him so he wouldn’t disturb the bird. He ignored everyone and kept walking. He was 3 feet from the bird and the bird did not flee. He barely looked up at the man and then went back to his preening.
He’s just sitting on the sea wall all by himself.
Later in the morning the sun came out so I headed back to the fishing pier before leaving the park to see if the jaeger was still around. Now he was on the beach area. Close by the other birds but still stayed by himself. He’s much bigger than the laughing gulls.
Profile. He’s got a cute hook on the end of his beak that you don’t see on laughing gulls.
Over a week later, someone noticed his foot look injured. None of the pictures that people were taking earlier showed anything. This past Tuesday, people were noticing a fishing hook and line stuck in his foot. It isn’t known whether that’s why he’s been hanging around the beach lately and not out at sea or if it happened while he was here visiting. One of the park rangers caught him and took him to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary where he is being treated. Hopefully, the hook was taken out and he can be released pretty quickly. I think all of the local birders will remember seeing “Mick” Jaeger for a while. Although my hubby says it looks like any ole seagull to him.