Tag Archives: Pacific Loon

Notes From The Field

Eastwood Lake Metropark

I left work a little early and made my way home to once again pick up my gear to go chasin’ down another good bird. This time it was the aforementioned Pacific Loon sighted at Eastwood Lake Metropark, which is one of the parks in the Five Rivers MetroParks system. It’s not a very large park, nor is the lake anything big. I’m so used to seeing Loons on such large lakes such as Caesar Creek and East Fork, it’s hard to believe someone would find such a great bird here.

I arrived a little after 4 pm after getting lost and asking directions twice before I found the place. And the birders were out in force trying to locate this small Loon. And to make matters worse was the wind once again howling out of the Northwest and causing enough of a chop on the water it was difficult to see anything.

10 minutes after arriving John Habib shows up, so we join forces to re-locate the bird. And we do. But the Loon was actively feeding so it would submerge and reappear after several moments even further away from where we just saw it. And it would play this cat-n-mouse game during the whole time I was there. And with the sun setting the reflection on the water made visualization next to impossible.

So you have very windy conditions, with choppy water, and a setting sun, and I’m trying to take a picture of this bird.  What a fool I am to even try…but I did. And they’re all crappy. So I’ll share them with you now, and please pardon the quality.

This picture is a little more diagnostic with the gray nap on the head and you can barely see the white baring going up the side of the head. A Common Loon would have a white collar around the back of the neck.

We lost sight of the bird and tried in vain for 20 minutes to re-locate it. It was approaching 6 pm and I had to meet up with my youngest for dinner so I had to leave without that stellar photo that I really wanted. Kind of bitter-sweet.

“Notes from the Field”/Caesar Creek Lake

As I set out on another beautiful Autumn morning I’m reminded how lucky I am. Watching the sun rise along Harveysburg Road I’m anxious to get a full morning of birding in.

Harveysburg Road sunrise

My first stop was the overlook at the end of the road. I was cold and the wind was picking up, so it was difficult to see anything for awhile. Ring-billed Gulls were starting to fly about and a lone Common Loon made a soft cry that carried on the wind from somewhere out on the lake.

Drove back out the road to the end and walked down the path through the woods to the beach area where I saw the Pacific Loon on Wednesday.

The water was a bit calmer here than out in the main channel, but with the wind in my face it was difficult to spot anything on the water at least till the sun climbed higher. So on that cue I went over to the beach real quick to see what was cookin’. Nothing much but some Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gull, and some Killdeers.

Went back to Harveysburg Road again after looking at a large group of birders that gathered there. There I meet and became better acquainted with Paul Krusling. Well, needless to say we hit it off. We were able to spot the Pacific Loon after 11:00 o’clock. Saw a couple small rafts off ducks and Mergansers, but no Scoters. We were able to ID a Red-throated Loon. We had to study it pretty hard but we were sure of it. It was lighter in color than the Pacific and he swam with his head held higher than other Loons. Which a Red-throated Loon will sometimes do. Besides Caesar Creek will always have Red-throated Loons in it this time of year.

Drove over to the Visitors center where we meet a young lady who works for the Army Corp of Engineers who invited Paul and myself to join her Monday as she captures and bands Saw-whet Owls. Now that’s the kind of fun I’m talking about. So if I’m lucky, and Monday night produces an Owl that will give me my 250th. bird. Plus I got a good tip on the whereabouts of Eastern Screech Owls. A good day with a new bird. Doesn’t get any better than that. List for the day.

  1. Hooded Merganser
  2. Common Loon
  3. Pacific Loon
  4. Red-throated Loon
  5. Carolina Chickadee
  6. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  7. Belted Kingfisher
  8. Ring-billed Gull
  9. Herring Gull
  10. Bonaparte’s Gull
  11. Great Blue Heron
  12. Starling
  13. Common Crow
  14. American Robin
  15. Killdeer
  16. Pigeon
  17. Canada Goose
  18. Dark-eyed Junco
  19. Bufflehead
  20. Mallard
  21. American Wigeon
  22. Lesser Scaup
  23. American Goldfinch
  24. White-breasted Nuthatch
  25. Horned Grebe
  26. Pied-billed Grebe

Caesar Creek Lake/Harveysburg Road

Well once again I’m on the road again, back up to my new favorite big lake. I received a phone call today at from Allan Claybon at about 11:30 informing me that the Pacific Loon was seen real close today. He was there already, and is taking pictures as we spoke.

Well, having seen the culprit on Monday, why would I want to see it again. Like I said in my previous post concerning said bird, it wasn’t a very good ID. I’m positive I saw the bird, but now an opportunity to get another view, and according to Allan, swimming on glass-like water. All I can say is this,  I’m grateful for slow days at work.

Leaving work at about 12:35, I headed to UDF to fill up the bird-mobile and stop at the house to grab my gear. I arrived at Harveysburg Road at about 1:45. I was a low flying aircraft. I had spoken to Allan and he was going to stick around. So when I got there and no Allan. I gave him a quick call, only to find out that he had parked at the other end of the road and hiked down the hill to the lake. So, to make a long story short, when I arrived and set up my scope, I was blessed once again to view this beautiful sight.

As you can see in this picture, the Pacific Loon is on the right.

A great picture with good views of the field marks.

A good shot of his head and notice the bill shape when comparing it to a Common Loon.

Now here is a great side by side comparison of a Common Loon on the left and the Pacific Loon on the right.

All photographs are courtesy of Allan Claybon

And if that wasn’t enough, I spotted  a new bird. Horned Grebes. Now I realize that to be proficient in birding it takes some hard work and actually  getting out in the field and doing it. And then sometimes it’s just being in the right spot at the right time. 2 away from 250.