|Common Name||Pacific Loon|
|Scientific Name||Gavia pacifica|
|Type of Report||Rare Species|
|Date of Observation||10/29/2017|
|Reporting Observer's Name||Michael Locher|
|Mailing Address||71 Hockanum Road|
Hadley, MA 01035
|Latitude of Observation||44.1829° N|
|Longitude of Observation||73.3503° W|
|Place Name||Button Bay, Lake Champlain|
|Vermont eBird Checklist URL||ebird.org|
|Time of Day||02:30 PM|
|Length of Time Observed||30 minutes|
|Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)||1000 feet (?)|
|Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)||1500 feet (?)|
|Noteworthy Weather Conditions|
Overcast and drizzly.
|Optical Equipment Used for Observation|
Swarovski 10x42 binoculars; Swarovski 20-60 spotting scope.
|Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species|
I have seen a few Pacific Loons on a trip to Alaska. I am primarily familiar with Common Loons (Summer and winter plumage) because they are resident where I live, and Red-throated Loons (primarily winter plumage) which I see typically on trips to coastal Massachusetts in the winter.
|I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event.|
|Description of Habitat|
Lake Champlain, open water. In a group with 5 Common Loons and 2 Ring-billed Gulls.
The bird was actively feeding when we first saw it, and continued through the half an hour we studied it. At one point nearby Ring-billed Gulls seemed to be harassing it as it rose to the surface (although they left the larger Common Loons alone).
|Description of Vocalizations|
|Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation|
As stated above, the bird was actively feeding for the entire 30 minutes of observation, and afforded only brief views. At first it was alone, and stood out as a small, dark, slender-necked loon. As time went on a school of small fish must have been in the area, and two Ring-billed Gulls joined it. The gulls appeared to harass the loon at times, striking at it as it rose to the surface. Soon five Common Loons joined the group, allowing comparison.
|Relative Size & Shape|
The bird was clearly a loon in shape, although it was much smaller and more slender than the surrounding Common Loons.
The bird had a very dark head, and the black mask covered the eye. The cheeks and throat were white (I did not see a "chinstrap"). Once or twice I got a look that seemed to indicate that the bird was darkest through the eye, and slightly lighter on top of the head.
|Feet & Bill|
I could not see the feet. The bill was dark (gray or black), and appeared to be less bulky than that of a Common Loon, but not so slender as a Red-throated Loon's. It did not hold its bill at an upward angle.
The upper back was very dark/black; much darker than the surrounding Common Loons.
|Lower Back & Rump|
The lower back was also very dark/black. (I can't say that I saw the rump.)
It briefly flared its wings when diving, and they appeared solid black.
|Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts|
When the bird (briefly) sat in the water, I saw no white except on the throat and upper breast. When it dove, the belly appeared bright white in contrast to dark upper feathers. I could not see the color of the undertail coverts as it dove.
I didn't look at the tail enough to give any description.
|IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?|
The two main candidates for similar species are Common Loon and Red-throated Loon.
|Other Notes & Comments|
I thought at the time that it seem closest to the juvenile plumage, because the juveniles don't show the chinstrap as strongly as adults, and their crowns may be lighter.
|This report was written from notes taken:||Written from Memory|