[Tweeters] Point no Point Thick-billed Murre - Captured on Video!

Brad Waggoner wagtail at sounddsl.com
Mon Jan 15 20:38:41 PST 2007

Hi all,

Late this afternoon I was fortunate to obtain great scope looks at a
Thick-billed Murre just offshore from the point at Point no Point. I watched
the murre from about 3:45 until about 4:30 this afternoon. Although it would
occasionally dive, it remained in about the same area only about 100 yds.
offshore. I also was able to obtain some reasonably good video of it through
my scope. I will discuss some of the field marks of this murre, but the
clincher for me was clearly seeing the white mandible line. Vic Nelson was
also able to view the murre for a short while.

I do believe this Thick-billed Murre(TBMU) matches the description given by
Richard Schnieder from yesterday's sighting. However, it should be noted
that this TBMU differs from the description of an alternate-plumaged TBMU
originally sighted by Steve Mlodinow and others back in mid-December. I
believe others that have reported TBMU since the original sighting have
mentioned a bird in alternate plumage. I would describe this TBMU as
exhibiting mostly basic plumage, although the white throat was not clean
white, it was somewhat "dirty" white (not as bright as the flanks and
breast). It makes me wonder if this is the same original bird having gone
through some molt or ?????? In any event, I would be careful of identifying
distant murres as there are plenty of alternate-plumaged Common Murres in
the area that give a "blacker-look" than nearby basic-plumaged ones.

The TBMU did briefly come close to a basic-plumaged Common Murre at one
point (nice comparisons), but for the most part it was by itself. In
general, the TBMU was bulky, thick-necked with a blocky, flat-topped black
head. The black back and hindneck contrasted with the clean white flanks and
breast. The black of the neck came to a point at the foreneck making the
white of the breast come to a point and separating the white throat patch -
an interesting pattern.The bill was stubby and blunt with a decurved
culmen - not as long and as pointed as the nearby Common Murre. Last but not
least, the white gape line was nicely evident.

Ancient Murrelets and Marbled Murrelets were plentiful this afternoon so
alcid viewing at Point no Point remains productive.

Cheers and good birding,

Brad Waggoner
Bainbridge Island, WA
mailto:wagtail at sounddsl.com

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