I had high hopes as I drove into Fort Desoto Park in early February. I was looking for the rare Pacific Loon that had been seen there the day before. It was seen right off the fishing pier so I figured it’s a short walk on the pier and I wouldn’t have to hike in the woods looking for it. Although I also knew it could be a wild goose chase and was I loony for driving down here to look for it?
When I first got to the pier there were a lot of people that had already spotted it (several had scopes). Way out in the bay. There were 3 little dots floating around. Two were common loons and the third was the Pacific. I shot the above quickly thinking that might be the only one I got if they took off.
After a while he floated closer to the pier. We get common loons here in the winter so most people, including me, would not have given it a 2nd look since they both almost look the same in their non-breeding feathers. The Pacific has a faint chin strap on his neck that makes him different than the loon as well as a thinner bill. I have to say the local expert birders really know their details.
This is a map of where you can find Pacific loons so the big question is “What is he doing in Florida?”.
He quickly made his way closer to the pier so I was able to get a better look at him. In the first shot you can just barely see the chin strap. This was a first for me as well as most of the people that had driven from all over Florida to see it.
A few of the usual birds include a snowy egret and a great blue heron. I took the shot of the great blue heron with my phone. I was standing next to a guy fishing for bait fish and that heron was not giving up his spot to catch any fall out.
A tiny black bellied plover on the jetty.
Looking out on the bay at the tower, the cormorants and pelicans were having a nice quiet morning.
Some big “boats” passing by the pier.
In the parking lot I found a pair of osprey working on their nest. This one was decorated with some nice greenery.
I stopped at the East Beach turnaround before leaving.
What a unique and interesting sight to see this Pacific loon so far from home! The avian flu has been very bad in my area and I’ve sadly noticed that there are a lot less birds than usual this time of year.
Nice find. Amazing that it so far away from where it supposed to be.
I forget the details but we had a bird show up in Tulsa last year that is supposed to be on the Atlantic coast. Lots of people showed up looking for it.
Wow, you’re right, what is he doing in Florida?? That’s an exciting find, and wonderful photos.
Isn’t that cool?
Worth a Thousand Words
I’m glad you got to see a Pacific Loon in person. Your other photos are beautiful also.
What a great place
Such beautiful photos! I always have to give kudos to the eyesight of birdwatchers. Those little details would escape me.