My parents used to call me “Loony Lynnie” because of my birding obsession and my joy in imitating the call of a Common Loon (the only loon species I ever saw in Wisconsin where I grew up).
Today I had another reason to be called that. I, along with Aaron Lang, spent most of the day looking for loons, new year-loons that is. We first drove a few neighborhoods looking for robin flocks and possible Townsend’s Solitaires, but then headed for Homer Spit for serious looking for eiders and loons.
It was fairly breezy with a chilly feeling, but we stopped at numerous places and scanned and scanned and scanned. We did not have any trouble finding Common Loons as well as various winter ducks. Flocks of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches (my most recent year-bird) flew over as did Snow Buntings.
Just before noon Aaron spotted the first of two Red-throated Loons for the day, but it dove, never to resurface as far as we could tell and I missed it. We then spent time not finding new loons in the huge gull flocks that were gathered at the end of the spit, which flocks included a Thayer’s Gull, zillions of Glaucous-winged Gulls and hybrids thereof, as well as Mew Gulls. The usual wintering goldeneyes, mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks as well as all three scoters and Common Murres littered the water, and Bald Eagles were perched everywhere. But for a long time the only loons were Common Loons.
As we gradually headed back up the spit, mostly scanning the waters to the west, Aaron finally found a distant RED-THROATED LOON that I was able to see in my scope, though not photograph. Soon after that he found a Yellow-billed Loon that immediately totally disappeared, in spite of our searching the water for it for nearly 1/2 an hour. As we continued driving back up the spit, we pulled over and scanned again, and Aaron saw what appeared to be a Yellow-billed Loon. We got out of the car, and it popped up quite near us. We both saw the YELLOW-BILLED LOON and it dove again. When it reappeared farther out near a Common Loon, I was able to get a few distant photographs.
With great elation, I welcomed the Yellow-billed Loon as my Alaskan bird species #100 for 2016! Soon after, Aaron’s wife Robin and their daughter Phoebe joined us and allowed me to take a celebratory photograph.
I am now back in Anchorage, ready and raring to go to try to get a few birds in the coming days that have been reported by others by not yet seen for my 2016 big year.
[I just had to put another of my Yellow-billed Loon photos here even though they are a bit fuzzy]: