The last thing I expected to have happen on a dismal, rainy Sunday was to add two (yup, count 'em, TWO- deux- dos- zwei!!! sorry, Ann) more Lifers to my list, thanks to a mid-day Ontbirds posting by Geoff. Both a Pacific and a Red-throated Loon had been seen out on the lake from Second Marsh in Oshawa, so after grovelling with Robert to abandon him for the afternoon, I headed off on my search!
There were still cars in the parking lot at Second Marsh, so I made it most of the way down the path to the shoreline before encountering a couple of birders on their way out, one from Grand Bend and another from Ajax. They confirmed the presence of several Loons still out on the lake, but west of the marsh, over by the Oshawa harbour.
As they were unfamiliar with the area, I offered to lead them to the harbour, and as soon as we exited our cars, numerous Loons were visible directly in front of us. Most of them were winter plumage Common Loons, but the Pacific Loon, with its pale gray head feathers, popped right out of the crowd through our binos, so we frantically set up our scopes for better views. The Red-throated Loon was also seen, my other lifer for the day, but quite frankly, it ended up being totally eclipsed by the Pacific, which is rarer for us here in Ontario.
The Loons continued their eastward swim towards the pier, so I found myself at the end of it for even better views. Me, the lone nerder amongst some fishermen who initially gave me the hairy eyeball but eventually ignored me. At first the Pacific Loon spent more time underwater than above, so it was challenging at times to find him in the waves, but once more birders arrived on the scene, the extra sets of eyes helped out with the situation.
The Pacific Loon, seen on the left, is smaller than the Common, seen in the background here, and a good comparison of the bills clearly indicate that the Pacific's is more slender and straight:
It's also been referred to as Pacific Diver and White-headed Loon:
Another point of comparison to the Common Loon is the greater amount of white on its back:
As I fought through the stampede of other birders arriving as I departed, Common Loons were swimming and diving in the harbour:
Its thick, daggerlike bill is chunkier than the Pacific's:
So in the end, today's Pacific Loon is my second western bird that I've seen in Ontario, just like the Yellow-headed Blackbird that I fully expected to find in British Columbia, versus ten kilometres from our cottage in the Kawarthas.
I intend to return to the harbour tomorrow again, even if it's raining freak, to re-locate both Loons, and perhaps give more viewing time to the Red-Throated...And thank goodness my scope is back in working order again, phew- Pelee Wings rocks!