[Tweeters] Point No Point - Arctic Loon

Louise Rutter louise.rutter at eelpi.gotdns.org
Fri Apr 13 19:12:01 PDT 2007

I arrived at the lighthouse just after 10am, and was instantly
distracted from thoughts of loons by the full breeding plumage horned
grebe right at the edge of the surf demanding to be photographed, and
the flock of 60 or so Brant geese also right by the beach just around
the other side of the point.

At 10.20, I met a party of birders leaving, who'd had repeated but
distant views of the Arctic loon. They said they'd had most luck by
picking up the group of 7-8 Pacific loons out there, then looking for
the Arctic loon as an outlier somewhere in their vague vicinity, so I
adopted that as my strategy. I found the Pacifics, several of them
obviously developing silver heads, in around ten minutes, but it was
another half an hour before I found the Arctic, somewhat further out and
closer to Hansville. The Pacifics had been drifting slowly in that
direction as I searched, and the Arctic was too, so I got mainly rear
views - as a previous poster has said, the white patches are unmissable
at that angle. All through that search, there was a white-crowned
sparrow I never saw singing how pretty he was from the row of conifers
behind me.

I watched the Arctic for around ten minutes - it dived only twice, but
for prolonged times. Then the rain set in in earnest, and I retreated to
my car for the sake of my optics. Half an hour later, with a still very
unpromising-looking sky, I caught a break in the rain to photograph some
of the Bonaparte's gulls on the beach by the lighthouse - why wouldn't
they come in that close when I was there looking for the black-headed
gull?! Sure enough, ten minutes later, I was back in the car again.

The wind had been building further through the morning, making sea
observation more difficult, not to mention unpleasant, so I walked the
road to the lighthouse on a Townsend's solitaire hunt. Given the
miserable conditions, with intermittent rain continuing, there were a
surprising number of passerines active and singing. I found a flock of
15 band-tailed pigeons in the field of caravans near the lighthouse, but
I made it past the house with the two holly trees in the front yard
(where two people had told me the solitaires were often to be found)
without a sighting. I finally picked one up as I returned to the car,
slightly east of the 'ship' house as reported by yesterday's poster.
There are several houses there with blossoming trees in the front
gardens, and the bird flitted regularly between those, with occasional
stops on posts along the way.

A reasonable day's birding for the weather with 46 species, including
large numbers of beautiful rhinoceros auklets and a small group of
Barrow's goldeneye still resisting the urge to leave the Kingston ferry

Good birding!

Louise Rutter

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