Pacific Loon

Gavia pacifica


Marshall Iliff
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eBird Checklist S76022770
Gooseberry Neck
Bristol, Massachusetts, United States
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Latitude and Longitude 41.487, -71.0376 Map

Not specified
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Media notes

Observation details

**rare; I was standing at the midpoint of the Parking Lot thicket when I noticed a smallish loon veering up from the direction of West Beach and heading right towards me. I noticed a chinstrap and immediately assumed it would be a Red-throated, which seemed to match in size, and since it was coming right for me I started taking pictures thinking it would be a good case study to show how similar Red-throateds can look to Pacifics. I blasted photos as it made a low pass over me and was lost to the E, although it was so low that maybe it did not go far and just plopped down somewhere on that side. I looked at the pictures quickly thereafter, since it looked sort of interesting through the viewfinder but was nonetheless surprised to see it was a clear Pacific Loon. No field notes, but the relevant field marks in the images are: 1) obvious complete, *narrow* chinstrap (unlike the broad dusky throat of immature Red-throated); 2) dark of face extends below eye and pale eye arcs set off the dark eye from the dark face; 3) sides of neck with completely straight juncture between dark neck and white foreneck; 4) complete vent strap; 5) bill like a small, dagger-shaped Common Loon bill, not upturned like Red-throated; 6) overall size and structure like small Common Loon; 7) smoothly rounded head. Full chinstrap, vent strap, and dark femoral tract all visible and eliminate Arctic Loon from consideration. A first for hotspot and first eBird record for county—previous reports I know of have all proven to be misidentified or totally undocumented birds. Below are all five photos I took; thanks to Ryan Schain for some help with cleanup of the rather dark images at extremely high ISO.

Technical Information

Canon EOS 7D
Lens model
EF400mm f/5.6L USM
Focal length
400 mm
Shutter speed
1/5000 sec
Flash did not fire
Original file size
2744 x 1736

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