[Tweeters] Possible Yellow Billed Loon at Larrabee State Park

B B birder4184 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 18 08:59:32 PST 2018

On Whatcombirds, Jim Duemmel and Andrea Warner reported observing a Yellow Billed Loon at Larrabee State Park this Friday around 11:30 a.m.  They thought its presence might be tied to high tide (around noon).
I arrived there around 9:00 a.m. yesterday on a gorgeous clear morning.  There were numerous birds in the water but all were pretty far out.  Included were numerous Long Tailed Ducks, Common, Pacific and Red Throated Loons, Horned and Red Necked Grebes, Pelagic and DC Cormorants and other duck species. (No alcids)
There were at least 5 Common Loons plus one loon that appeared to have a significantly larger and upturned bill.  The sun was very bright and through bins and scope it appeared yellow(ish).  It was at least 250 to 300 yards out.  I had several views but all were distant.
I took photos with a 400 mm zoom with 1.4 double hoping for at least ID quality and tentatively put it on Ebird as a YBLO (at first misidentifying the location carried over from an earlier report in Skagit County).  Reviewing photos last night I believe the ID is accurate but the image is very small and not clear.  The bill coloration even though blurred seems pretty yellow.  Had it not been reported earlier, I would be less clear.
I left before 11 planning to return around 12:30 closer to high tide at 1 p.m. hoping it would be closer as it had been reported on Friday.  When I did return, only a single Common Loon was within 200 yards and at best there were some other indistinguishable loons much further out than before.  The same was true for the other species seen previously or I could not find them at all.  Surprising and disappointing.
I hope others may see a YBLO there and confirm.
I also birded Bayview State Park, Fairhaven, Samish Flats, Hayton Preserve, Wylie and Legue Island (SEOW as sun set).  Despite some significant misses, I had 75 species (76 if it is a YBLO) and it is definitely feeling like we are into winter birding with returning water birds.

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