It's one of those "I refuse to give up" + "Timing is everything" finds! I had walked, driven, hiked around this reservoir. Miles, combined. For 5.5 hours. No luck. I think I have a personal relationship with every mallard there, a few geese and a wood duck. Also coots and lots and lots of Clark's and Western Grebes with a few Pied-billed mixed in. But the darned bird didn't appear. Anywhere. I back-tracked over and over; Ski Beach, East Beach, Swim Beach, Sail Boat Cove. Nada. Zip. Zero.
Finally, with 40 minutes to go (had to get home) I wandered over to the Lifeguard Station area and ran into some birders from L.A. in the parking lot just arriving to look for the bird. I told them where it wasn't. They sat down to eat lunch while I went over to the Lifeguard Station. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay away on the opposite shore were about a dozen Western and Clark's Grebes. They were in a little cove below the right dam face. But there was this other "thing". It wasn't a duck, certainly not a Mallard (or by now it would have waved!) or goose. It certainly wasn't a Grebe of any kind and was WAY too big for any kind of tern. It wasn't a gull. I strained and strained becoming more and more convinced this was the bird but I needed a scope. I went to find the LA folks at their lunch table and a very nice gentleman agreed to come and take a look. He got it in the scope but said it looked like a bird on a rock. I peeked and it was actually a loon asleep with it's bill in its back feathers. Everyone looked. They got out their Kaufman's and other books. I explained the loon wasn't in breeding plumage and ran and got my Sibley. By the time I returned, two other scopes showed up. Eventually, the bird stopped sleeping and lo and behold it was the Arctic Loon! Big time lifer for me... and with minutes to spare. I got a couple pretty awful pictures given how far away it was. I was so excited I was air boxing:)
I hopped in the car and drove home, getting here just in time!
Made my day!
Edit to add this is a continuing rarity. Guy Incognito got some great pics of the bird when he saw it. Unfortunately, I was too far away to do the bird justice.
New Birder January 1, 2013
Life list: 276
Tropical Kingbird, Red-breasted Merganser, American Redstart, Canvasback, Common Goldeneye, Wilson's Snipe, Cassin's Auklet, Common Murre, Bonaparte's Gull, Common Loon, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Bell's/Sagebrush Sparrow (so far, all the experts say Bell's), Loggerhead Shrike, Brown Creeper, Philidelphia Vireo, Snow Goose, Northern Pintail, Lapland Longspur, Masked Booby, Canada Warbler, Rock Wren, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Fox Sparrow, American Pipet, Red-naped Sapsucker, Lincoln's Sparrow, Laughing Gull, Yellow-footed Gull, Abert's Towhee, Gambel's Quail, Gila Woodpecker, Common Tern, Pomarine Jaeger, Parasitic Jaeger, South Polar Skua, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Phalarope, Brandt's Cormorant, Brown Booby, Red-billed Tropicbird, Black Storm-Petral, Least Storm-Petral, Pink-footed Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Black-vented Shearwater, Northern Fulmar, Brant, Northern Pintail, Hermit Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Bobolink, Pectoral Sandpiper, Blue-footed Booby, Canyon Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Reeve, Solitary Sandpiper, Sora, Common Tern, Bank Swallow, Black Tern, Lesser Yellowlegs, Hairy Woodpecker, Green-tailed Towhee, Pygmy Nuthatch, Vermillion Flycatcher, Marsh Wren, Pelagic Cormorant, Cackling Goose, Surfbird, Wild Turkey, Steller's Jay, White-winged Dove, Verdin, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Little Blue Heron, Mew Gull, Brandt's Cormorant, Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, Horned Lark, Snowy Plover, Northern Harrier, Ruddy Turnstone, Surf Scoter, Cliff Swallow, Arctic Loon, Virginia Rail, Least Bittern, Bald Eagle, Wilson's Phalarope, Cattle Egret, Black Oystercatcher, Costa's Hummingbird, Glaucous-winged gull, Orange-crowned warbler, Pacific-slope flycatcher, Swainson's thrush, Red-throated loon, Clapper rail, Warbling vireo, Gray flycatcher, MacGullivray's warbler, Western wood-pewee, Reddish egret, Least tern, California gnatcatcher, Peregrine falcon, Black skimmer, Long-billed curlew, Semipalmated plover, Dunlin, Black-bellied plover, Red-breasted merganser, Great horned owl, Blue grosbeak, Yellow-breasted chat, Bell's vireo, Lazuli bunting, Black-chinned hummingbird, Green heron, Nashville warbler, Townsend's warbler, Black-throated gray warbler, Ross's goose, Horned grebe, Marbled godwit, Forester's tern, Brant, Western tanager, Bullock's oriole, Yellow warbler, Barn swallow, Brewer's blackbird, Brown-headed cowbird, Ash-throated flycatcher, Ruby-crowned kinglet, Black-headed grosbeak, Willet, California gull, Western gull, Ring-billed gull, Heermann's gull, Brown pelican, Red-throated loon, Royal tern, Elegant tern, Least sandpiper, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Redhead duck, Greater scaup, Western sandpiper, Least bittern, White-faced ibis, Blue-winged teal, Greater white-fronted goose, Golden eagle, Zone-tailed hawk, Rufous-crowned sparrow, Sharp-shinned hawk, Common ground-dove, Black-throated green warbler (continuing bird), Wilson's warbler, Common yellowthroat, House wren, Chipping sparrow, Hooded oriole, House sparrow, Song sparrow, Cactus wren, Western kingbird, Red-breasted sapsucker, Downey woodpecker, Bullock's oriole, Common poorwill, American robin, Cooper's hawk, Dowitcher sp., Red-winged blackbird, Greater yellowlegs, Common gallinule, Gadwell, Black-neck stilt, Cinnamon teal, American avocet, Cassin's kingbird, Lark sparrow, Killdeer, Pine siskin, Spotted sandpiper, Egyptian goose, Northern shoveler, Hooded merganser, Canada goose, American goldfinch, Lesser scaup
My ridiculous New Years Goal: 365 birds this year. Only 89 to go! (you can stop laughing now). I'm giving it a whirl!
200 by 8/6 or bust! 0 birds to go, 2 days left over!