Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pacific Loon

The weather has been terrible for many days. I have lost most of my motivation to go birding. Fortunately, as I was checking the small port behind my dorm from the fourth floor's kitchen, I spotted a single loon swimming in the port. I quickly grabbed my camera and went down to the port. To my surprise, the bird was not easy to find and photograph at all. It could dive into the water and come up on the surface hundreds of metres away from the original spot. At first, I thought that the bird was a Black-throated Loon since it's the only loon I've ever seen in Beppu so far. Indeed, it was a Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica), a lifer for me!

Non-breeding Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica); Note the 'chinstrap'

The bird was relatively wary and wouldn't let me get close to it. I thought that the Pacific Loon would be distinctly smaller than Black-throated, but I didn't really feel that it was that much smaller. It has distinct dark 'chinstrap' which is one of the main characteristics of Pacific Loon, along with the thinner, sharply-pointed bill and less white on the flanks while swimming. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any decent shot of it since it was really cloudy and the sun was setting. I just hope that the weather will be better and the bird will still be around tomorrow, so I can get some more shots. I was even able to hear its loud eerie call. I didn't know why it gave the call, but it was one of the most distinctive calls for waterbirds.
The bird giving its loud eerie call
One of the 3 Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus) that were staying nearby


Stuart Price said...

Nice find..........from your window!

I've never taken a decent shot of this species, Black throated seem much more common up here.....

Chris said...

Wow congrat for the lifer and I'm not sure I can get one from my window ;-) And you got superb shots of it. Well done. The great crested grebe shot is also very nice.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Congrats on your lifer!