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A Loony Afternoon

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  • Kreba, Robert MAH
    Greetings, SaskBirders; Yesterday afternoon (wedns., Oct.31), I was able to make a trip out to Regina Beach, in search of the long-staying Yellow-billed Loon.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2001
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      Greetings, SaskBirders;
      Yesterday afternoon (wedns., Oct.31), I was able to make a trip out to
      Regina Beach, in search of the long-staying Yellow-billed Loon. Looking
      west from my first stop, checking the spit at the beach-boat launch-pier, I
      thought that I'd spotted it, a large pale-brown loon north and east of the
      property known as Flag Point, where it has consistently been seen before. I
      drove over so as to be closer, and walked down to the lakeshore trail, but
      could not find it. I saw a loon to the west, closer inshore, which turned
      out to be an imm. Common Loon. I continued westward, along the old railroad
      bed trail, to Kinookimaw, where I saw another, adult winter-plumaged, COLO.
      I decided to walk back to Flag Point, and saw another adult COLO, and a 2nd
      imm. COLO, this one east of Flag Point. Looking out to the north shore, I
      saw another loon, again relatively pale and thick-necked, feeding and diving
      repeatedly. The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds to the west,
      but I eventually got some well-lit views of the bird which confirmed it as
      the Yellow-billed; a few times, the sun caught the bird's large, usually
      up-turned (between dives) bill, giving off a yellow flash.

      I watched the YBLO for about 20 minutes. Just before deciding that it was
      time to go, I scanned to the left (west), and spotted a group of five large,
      longish-bodied birds that I first took to be scoters, likely White-winged.
      The sun was then behind the clouds, so I couldn't make out any markings, but
      they didn't really look very duckish. I considered that they might be
      mergansers, but higher magnification made it apparent that they weren't
      mergs either. Then one bird shook its foot out above the water, a typical
      loon gesture (was it waving hello?), and I was sure that they were indeed
      loons, which is what they'd really looked like from the beginning. When the
      sun came out again, I was able to confirm their identification as Pacific
      Loons, with strongly bi-coloured neck and nape, rounded heads, and
      medium-sized pointy bills held at the horizontal.

      Well, so, ten loons, three species, I was quite pleased. Here in
      Saskatchewan, I'd never seen more than two Pacific Loons on one day, and not
      together (Bob Luterbach did see two PALOs in this area on Oct.20, and a
      single bird on the 21st). I also saw a single Oldsquaw (imm./fem.) flying
      east past Flag Point.

      On Sunday, Oct.28, Michele Williamson and I went in search of the YBLO, with
      no luck, saw only one adult winter Common Loon ( a small bird with a dusky
      neck) at the Marina at Regina Beach. I also saw four Oldsquaws, flying
      west, as we were walking towards Little Arm. I thought we'd see them again
      on the water, but we couldn't find them again. We did see two White-winged
      Scoters in Little Arm Bay; loons and scoters are usually seen in the deeper
      water of the lake proper, north of where the trestle used to be. We
      saw flock of about ten redpolls, all of which that I could i.d. were

      Saw only one Common Goldeneye on the 28th, and one Common Merganser; about
      15 goldeneyes yesterday, no mergs. Saw no raptors at all, neither hawks or
      eagles, on both days.

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