Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:27 PM
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: 339
Most recent lifers: Ferruginous Hawk, Nelson's Sparrow, Mute Swan, Common Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Olive-backed Pipet, Northern Parula, Tennessee Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Vesper Sparrow, Craveri's Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petral, Grasshopper Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, Barn Owl, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Sabine's Gull, Scripp's Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Black Storm-Petral, MacGillivray's Warbler, Black-chinned Sparrow, Gull-billed Tern, Calliope Hummingbird, Red Knot, Violet-green Swallow, Short-billed Dowitcher, Mountain Quail, Summer Tanager, Dusky Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, Sage Thrasher, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Western Screech Owl, Cassin's Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, Rusty Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird, Burrowing Owl, Prairie Falcon, White-winged Scoter, Herring Gull, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Hermit Warbler, Lewis's Woodpecker, Plumbeous Vireo
-- DONE! My first goal is met: get 100 birds in the first week of January (and I'm over count and still have two days to go). My approach was not to go after the easy birds, but the harder ones and pick up the easier ones along the way. So meeting this goal without really birding the easy spots is encouraging. I might feel different in August.
-- DONE! My goal for the next week (through the 15th) is to get my count up somewhere around 160. That shouldn't be too hard I don't think as I am missing a number of pretty easy species because I've been concentrating on local rarities. I am, however, taking a trip to the grasslands on Sunday hoping to get a new raptor or two and Mountain Bluebird.
-- DONE! With (yeah!) days to go! My goal for this week (through the 22nd of Jan) is to get my numbers up to around 170. I'd like to hit 175. We'll see. (I was 9 birds over... horray!)
-- 1/2 DONE This week's goal will be to get my life list to 300 and my seen list up to 195. Did not get my life list to 300. Didn't leave the county this week.
-- Finally completed last week's goal.
-- DONE! This weeks goal (to Feb 14) is to get to 206 seen birds, including at least one owl (heard or seen for owl), and add at least one life bird.
This year's goal: Get life list to 400, see 365 different birds this year, and travel to at least three other states. The last part is the hardest for me.
Seen/heard: 312 (one is under discussion)
To go: 53
My new Blog: http://thisskysings.wordpress.com/