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BAY AREA: Photos of Bodega Bay Yellow-Billed Loon

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  • Natalie
    Hi Everyone, Today I went on a trip to Bodega Bay with the Golden Gate Audubon group led by Rusty Scalf. We met at 9:00 am at Doran Beach, hoping to see some
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 23, 2008
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      Hi Everyone,

      Today I went on a trip to Bodega Bay with the Golden Gate Audubon
      group led by Rusty Scalf. We met at 9:00 am at Doran Beach, hoping to
      see some Snowy Plovers. Unfortunately, due to the large numbers of
      people on the beach we were unable to spot any. Right in front of us
      in the water, though, was a large flock of BRANT probably at least 80
      birds strong. Farther out in the water I thought I saw a Yellow-
      Billed Loon, but I was unable to find the bird again (only a couple
      COMMON LOONS). On the opposite side of the road were large flocks
      consisting of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, DUNLINS, SANDERLINGS, WESTERN
      SANDPIPERS, and a few BLACK TURNSTONES. They were spooked by a male
      NORTHERN HARRIER flying around for a bit. At the end of the road we
      spotted RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, SURF SCOTERS, and a PEREGRINE FALCON
      pursuing some shorebirds.

      From there we drove down to the first marina at the end of Eastshore
      Road (I forget what it was called!), where the famous YELLOW-BILLED
      LOON was swimming around between the boats right in front of
      everyone. That gigantic yellow bill is amazing to see in person, and
      we were fortunate there was also a COMMON LOON swimming around right
      in the same area so we could watch the two species side-by-side. The
      Yellow-Billed Loon was not shy at all - several birders (myself
      included) went down onto the docks to snap some photos, and the loon
      couldn't have cared less. We saw it catch fish and even a clam, and
      few times it surfaced less than 10 feet from us. In addition to the
      two loons, there was also a CLARK'S GREBE hunting in this area as
      well. In the bay nearby there was a large flock of WILLETS and
      MARBLED GODWITS, with a few SURFBIRDS mixed in.

      We drove down West Side Road a bit and parked on the side of the
      street, where we saw a flock of LEAST SANDPIPERS, in addition to
      Sanderlings, Dunlins and gulls. After that we drove all the way down
      the road to the cliffs on Bodega Head (again, I can't recall the
      specific name, sorry!). For the most part it was pretty quiet up
      there... We saw PELAGIC and BRANDT'S CORMORANTS close together, so
      that was a great opportunity for many birders to become experts at
      telling the two species apart. We also saw a couple (maybe a pair?)
      of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS, hanging out on the exposed rocks and
      periodically calling. Additionally, a small flock of seven Surfbirds
      was walking around on the rocks (when I first saw them I thought they
      were pigeons).

      That pretty much sums up the trip, I believe. I didn't mention all
      the birds so I'll post a complete list at the bottom (some people may
      have seen things I didn't, so it might not be totally complete). Here
      are the promised photos of the loon that got you to click this email
      in the first place...

      Yellow Billed Loon swallowing a clam:
      http://i37.tinypic.com/2hnpcew.jpg
      http://i37.tinypic.com/208xpxc.jpg

      Yellow-Billed Loon close-ups:
      http://i34.tinypic.com/jz9lra.jpg
      http://i37.tinypic.com/kalbvb.jpg

      My bird list:

      Pacific Loon
      Common Loon
      Yellow-Billed Loon
      Western Grebe
      Clark's Grebe
      Brown Pelican
      Pelagic Cormorant
      Brandt's Cormorant
      Snowy Egret
      Brant
      Greater/Lesser Scaup (couldn't tell with my bins)
      Surf Scoter
      Bufflehead
      Red-Breasted Merganser
      Turkey Vulture
      Northern Harrier
      Peregrine Falcon
      American Coot
      Black-Bellied Plover
      Black Oystercatcher
      Greater Yellowlegs
      Willet
      Marbled Godwit
      Black Turnstone
      Surfbird
      Sanderling
      Dunlin
      Western Sandpiper
      Least Sandpiper
      Mew Gull
      Ring-Billed Gull
      Western Gull
      Heermann's Gull
      Black Phoebe
      Song Sparrow

      Hope everyone had a good weekend!

      Natalie McNear
      Novato
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