----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Mark Dettling mdettlin@... [northbaybirds]"
To: North Bay Birds
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:45 AM
Subject: [NBB] Arctic Loon, Abbott's Lagoon, 1/30
Ryan DiGaudio and I were out at Abbott's Lagoon (in the Point Reyes National Seashore) this morning and saw what we believe is an Arctic Loon. I've submitted an eBird list, but don't have photos in there yet. For those interested in trying to find the bird, we first saw it near the north end of the lagoon and then got some closer views from the east shore of the lagoon. It spent time near the east shore and then out in the middle of the lagoon. There was also a Common Loon and a Red-necked Grebe, both of which the Arctic was close to a few times for size comparisons.
Ryan and I were actually returning to Abbott's to look for this specific bird since we saw it first on Friday (1/26) while birding with Palomarin staff and interns. Upon our first look, I played it off as a Common Loon because of the largish bill and squarish head, while Ryan thought it might be a Pacific Loon due to the bill not being as large as a nearby Common and the clean distinction between the gray head-hindneck and the white throat-foreneck. Ryan was curious enough to take several photos. Upon reviewing these photos yesterday, we became more confused about it's identity and started to consider Arctic since it was showing white flanks. We sent the photos to Keith Hansen, Peter Pyle, and Steve Howell who all agreed that it looked good for an Arctic.
We decided that we needed to go back and see the bird again before making the final call, and luckily the bird was still at Abbott's this morning. We were able to watch the bird for a couple of hours with the bird being as close as 80 meters from us. The bird looks to be a young bird with the back feathers having pale gray to white edging making the back look scaly. The bird was actively diving (and successfully catching fish) most of the time, but there were periods when it was more relaxed and even preened a couple times. Even while actively diving the bird showed a strip of white on its flanks along the waterline more often than not. As far as I understand Pacific Loons would not show this amount of white especially while active. The throat and neck were clean white without a "necklace". I've read some descriptions that say some young Pacific's will lack the "necklace", so not a definitive mark, but still consistent with Arctic. The head shape was somewhat blocky with a steep forehead and a noticeable angle at the rear of the head, reminiscent of Common Loon head shape. The bill looked biggish to me, but Ryan thought it was not as large as a Common's. When the bird was near the Common we could see that the Arctic was obviously smaller, the bill was smaller, and the head was not as blocky. Again, from what we've read Arctic's are in between Common and Pacific in regards to size and shape.
We've uploaded a number of photos and a couple short video clips here:
Photos from the original sighting on Friday can be seen here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42258948
We hope others can get out and see this bird. And I'm sure we'll hear if our ID is disputed!