English and Scientific names:

Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)

Number of individuals:

1 adult in definitive basic plumage

Locality: LOUISIANA:

Jackson

Specific Locality:

Caney Creek Reservoir, Womack, ca. 5.5 mi. SSW of Chatham (32.2257 N, -92.4904 W)

Date(s) when observed:

24 January 2009

Time(s) of day when observed:

9:20 AM 3:30 PM CST

Reporting observer and address:

Justin Bosler

Baton Rouge, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

 

Devin Bosler

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

Charles Lyon and Terry Davis after 2 PM on 24 Jan. Paul Conover, Mac Myers, Marty Guidry, and m.ob. on subsequent dates.

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Overcast w/ low ceiling and generally fair to poor light conditions.

Optical equipment:

Zeiss Victory FL 8x42 binocular (good condition) and Kowa Prominar TSN-4 77mm spotting scope w/ 20-60x zoom eyepiece (good condition)

Distance to bird(s):

from ca. 150 to 500 meters

Duration of observation:

on and off over period of 6 hrs.

Habitat:

Relatively deep, freshwater man made lake in upland mixed pine-hardwood forest. One of the deepest lakes in LA, reaching depths of 60 ft. in three locations.

Behavior of bird/birder:

The loon was initially spotted as it surfaced amid an aggregation of ~20 Common Loons (COLO) out ca. 200-250 m from the dam. Devin and I had scoped through all of the COLO at least 2-3x before picking up on this bird. We soon found out why it had eluded us on the first few passes. It was diving frequently and staying submerged for longer than it surfaced. Some dives lasting as long as 2+ mins. It covered distances underwater quicker than COLO. A combination of these factors coupled w/ the lousy (gusty wind and light rain) weather conditions made documenting this loon exceedingly difficult. It took flight briefly, but landed after 50 m or so on the outside of a tightly packed fishing party of Double-crested Cormorants (DCCO) where it continued to fish. Now, it was as close to the public boat ramp as it ever got throughout the day, but soon worked its way back closer to the middle of the SE end of the lake. It lingered very close to the half-way point between N and S shores (as viewed from Pine Bluff Estates on N shore) for the remainder of the AM and into the PM. We had prolonged views of it above water in the PM as it spent more time preening and resting than diving.

Description:

A small, slender loon patterned dark above and light below. Silvery-gray upperparts contrasted sharply against the pure white underparts on the sides of the breast, neck, and head. Some pale fringing noticeable on back feathers. Relatively small, dark bill was remarkably thin and slightly upturned. Dark, beady eyes isolated on clean white face. Very low-to-water profile w/ slim chest and neck.

Voice:

Not heard. A few COLO yodeling in AM.

Similar species:

All other loons can be eliminated by overall small size and delicate structure, dark beady eye isolated on clean white face, and small, thin, upturned bill.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Yes, digivideo obtained by Justin Bosler, and attached.

Previous experience with this species:

Extensive experience w/ RTLO along Atlantic coast in the Northeast from ME to NJ.

Identification aids:

None

This description is written from:

notes made during the observation and memory.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain:

 

Yes, 100% positive.

Reporter:

Justin Bosler

Date and time:

28 January 2009 9:30 PM CST