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.