The Windermere Basin in Hamilton is not a place I usually get. But I am extremely fortunate in my birding friends.
I was not fortunate in the weather; the wind was blowing straight at us above 50 kph, so using a scope without one's eyes watering unto uselessness was challenging. So was attempting to digiscope by holding a camera up to the eyepiece, but I almost managed.
|100 percent crop of the next image|
|70x scope view via baffled camera autofocus|
|camera still baffled, perhaps better profile on bird|
My notes say:
- lighter brown head
- brown shoulders, mantle
- darkens caudally
- black chin patch
- yellow strong bill as long as head and hooked
- dark legs (could be black)
- gull-shaped; heavy herringish
I was not at the time sure that the eye was yellow, or if the thing showing yellow was a nictitating membrane of some kind, but every single photo where the eye is visible has the yellow eye. So probably.
It's a large bird; there's a photo (not shown) with a Greater Yellowlegs for scale, and this bird is much, much larger, roughly mallard-sized. (Larger than the Caspian Terns on the other end of the little island.)
"Some sort of jaeger" is the obvious conclusion, but dark morph jaegers are supposed to have black bills. And while I have some good gull references, jaegers are not gulls and not in them.
Anybody recognize this bird?