Sunday, March 6, 2016


Yesterday we experienced an extra-ordinary day on Outer Cape Cod. Scott Surner, Brian Kane and I left the Pioneer Valley early. Our goal was to see the Yellow-billed Loon found at Race Point, Provincetown by Steve Arena about a week prior. We found the subject bird without too much trouble and then settled down to enjoy some of the best loon viewing that we've ever seen in North America. Conservative estimates of 150-200 Red-throated, 60-70 Common and 3 Pacific Loons and the Yellow-billed made for an unprecedented four loon day......not too shabby and well worth the three-mile round trip trudging through the soft sand of Race Point beach.

The spectacle was not taken for granted, not by any any means. Loon watching can be difficult at times with individuals tending to disappear for extended periods, especially when diving frequently. Race Point beach was all the more impressive as the rarities (Yellow-billed and Pacific Loons) remained on view for extended periods providing a living 'loon workshop' for anyone who might be interested in improving their knowledge of this fantastic group of birds in basic plumage.

Although it was a tough day out from Western Massachusetts, all three of us agreed that it was one of the best field experiences that we'd had in the state in recent years. On the walk back to the parking lot, I couldn't help but think about how fortunate Massachusetts is to be blessed with some remarkably good birders - 'chapeau' to Steve Arena for his excellent find and for alerting us to the excellent loon viewing currently available at Race Point.

Yellow-billed Loon - juvenile/first-winter, with Common Loon, Race Point, Provincetown, MA. March 6th, 2016.

Pacific Loon - with Common Loon n foreground, Race Point, Provincetown, MA. March 6th, 2016.

Red-throated Loon - Race Point, Provincetown, MA. March 6th, 2016.
One of several slightly tricky individuals potentially confusable with Pacific Loon.

Red-throated Loon (left)- Race Point, Provincetown, MA. March 6th, 2016.  
Same bird as above with Pacific Loon to the right.

1 comment:

Steve Arena said...

James. Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. Steve