[Tweeters] Possible Arctic Loon, Port Angeles Harbor Sunday 1-27

Gary Smith gsmith at smithandstark.com
Tue Jan 29 13:25:59 PST 2013

While looking for the Thick-billed Murre on Sunday, about 1:30 pm I saw what
I think was an Arctic Loon. It was relatively close to Ediz Hook near the
western end of the harbor. There were at least three Pacific Loons not far
off (all were dark to the waterline). I made a number of notes into my
phone and yesterday went through them carefully and returned to the same
conclusion, but would love to have someone else find it and clarify.

The water was flat and the loon was very relaxed, just loafing and drifting.
Its substantial white flank stripe was very apparent for the whole time I
watched through my scope, at least 10 minutes. Its cheek patch was white
and clean and neatly defined by the curve of dark from the back/sides of the
neck. The nape was quite dark. The top of the head appeared very flat and
the point at which the flat top met the slanted forehead was a quite sharply
defined angle.

As to bill angle, I would say that most of the time the loon held its bill
closer to horizontal, but at times it did have a subtle uplift to the angle.
Here's something I observed, not sure if this helps either way - after doing
nothing but loafing for 5-7 minutes, the bird preened just a bit. When it
settled again the white stripe didn't look quite as white, it appeared
slightly mixed with gray, (and I thought, OK, now this becomes a Pacific)
but then the stripe quickly resolved toward more white again, though not
quite as bright as before. The flank stripe was essentially in the same
location, with the same shape, same dimensions, and so on, just a little
dark mixed in with it. Thoughts?

Later, farther out on the Hook, I met Marv Breece and his brother and
mentioned it to them. They went looking but at that time neither the Arctic
nor the Pacifics were around. So, I post this in hopes that others will
carefully look at all the loons up there and see if it can be found again.
I didn't have a camera with me, but I do have some more detail in my notes
if anyone has questions.

And yes, I did eventually see the TBMU - thanks, Marv.

Good birding and good luck!

Gary T. Smith

Alki Point, Seattle

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