Friday, February 11, 2005

Eureka Waterfront, Mid Week Walk, YBLO

Dear Hum-birders,

This past Wednesday, February 9th the mid week Audubon Walk was a great success. Not only did we have a well attended trip (12+), but we saw some great birds. We started off at the Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly wildlife area at the end of Hilficker), usual suspects were in the willows including Lesser Goldfinch and Black-capped Chickadee. The tide was in so there was limited shorebird viewing, but we did add a lone Brant out on the river channel. The pond through the fence at the treatment works had both scaup and 20 or so American Wigeon. They have cleared vegetation around the pond so viewing is good if a little de-nuded right now. The sun was coming out as we left this area to check King Salmon and Fields Landing with good morning light behind us. At King Salmon there was a particularly large flock of Surf Scoter. I've been told a Harlequin Duck was in with them, though we didn't see it. Red Necked Grebe gave us good looks and White-winged Scoters were distinguished as they flew around. The white auriculars on the grebe that forms a little arc up to the back of the neck was a good mark along with the strong yellowish bill. Horned and Western Grebes were also present for comparison.

Then onto Fields Landing where I wanted to check a new spot at the end of South Depot Street. Matt Wachs had shown me it recently and it gives a better view of south bay particularly on calm days. Well, who did we see as our car caravan pulled up, but Matt along with Barry Sauppe who were scanning the bay. We were promptly told about a probable YELLOW-BILLED LOON out in the bay with the hundreds of Brant. Using scopes (which were needed) we spied the grey ghost-like form of a large loon with its bill pointed skyward. The pale coloration was that of an Immature and when directly compared with Common Loon was pale as a Red-throated is to a Pacific Loon. The whole time it preened and kept its bill upturned which was quite obvious and at a good angle would glint pale yellow, not the cold blue of a Common Loon. Finer points were hard to discern at a distance but Matt had had closer looks, and using Barry's ED glass a strongish gonydial angle was seen, as well as a brownish tinge in the auriculars with the impression of a small eye. For me, having seen one in the fog in 1990 at Trinidad Harbor the pale form with the upturned posture was the jizz that I got along with all the other happy members of our trip. Given the good turnout I plan another mid week trip for March, join us if you can.

Yours Rob

Directions: South Depot is the last right turn in Fields Landing just beforethe southbound exit.

Robert W. Hewitt Wildlife Biologist - LBJ Enterprises
Eureka, California (w) 707-442-0339, (cell) 707-845-3189, (fax) 707-269-0632

Chairman, Godwit Days Steering Committee
www.godwitdays.com April 15-17, 2005

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