Yellow-billed Loon


Lake Havasu & Parker Dam
Mar 3, 2002 - 45-68 degrees
- Henry Detwiler

A road trip to see some fine northern specialties along the Colorado River:  Barrow's Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, and the Yellow-billed Loon.  
species (list follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Bruce, Vic, Bob, & Henry

The sun was already up as we left on the long drive north.  Bob rode with Jeff in his Jeep, while Suzanne and the two girls (Adriana and Gaby) were in my Pathfinder.  Our first stop was close to Cibola NWR, where we picked up a Sandhill Cranes, a Vermillion Flycatcher, and several sparrow species.  At the lake in  Palo Verde we saw our first Violet-Green Swallows and a few ducks, and a short distance north we saw a beautiful Ferruginous Hawk.  

We pulled up to Parker Dam shortly after noon, and before long Bob spotted the female Long-tailed Duck flying in from the South.  But try as we might, there were no Barrow's Goldeneyes to be found.  After waiting for Bruce, we decided to check out a flock of ducks about half a mile downstream    
 Common Goldeneye

Parker Dam

A convenient pull-off south of the Dam gave us a chance to closely observe a large flock of Violet-Green Swallows, White-throated Swifts, and a few more ducks.  

I heard a thrasher singing not too far away, and before too long we had spotted two Sage Thrashers.   On the way back north, Bob suggested we ask the birders at the dam if they'd found the Barrow's.  Surprise, surprise!  Bruce, Vic, and Lou had arrived, and brought with them two female Barrow's Goldeneyes.

After a welcome fast-food stop, we continued on to Site Six, the new favored haunt for our loon. Aside from fishermen, the initial offerings were two Common Loons, one of which had an elongated lower mandible (dubbed the Crossbill Loon).

Lake Havasu, Site 6

Yellow-billed Loon

Soon after though, a larger loon (11.5 lbs. to be exact) with a massive bill came bearing down on us from around the point.  It was our guy! 

For the next hour, the Yellow-billed Loon would swim under and around the fishing pier, snacking on the large population of shad.  We got fantastic close-up looks, and several wonderful photos, too.  The photo above is through my digital camera sans scope.  Hopefully Suzanne got some nice photos using my Canon 300mm lens. 


Clark's Grebe


Other birds in the immediate area included seven Clark's Grebes, four Pied-billed Grebes, and this Osprey glued to a sailboat mast.
We celebrated the bird with a round of beers courtesy of Bruce, and then said our goodbyes as Vic & Lou and Bruce headed back to Orange County.
On the way home we looked out over the Bill Williams river delta in several spots and located both Common and Red-breasted Mergansers. 
-- a long but fantastic day of birding.

Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge

Adriana at Lake Havasu

Yuma - Lake Havasu, 3 Mar 2002
# Species
1 Yellow-billed Loon
2 Common Loon
3 Clark's Grebe
4 Western Grebe
5 Pied-billed Grebe
6 Double-crested Cormorant
7 Great Egret
8 Great Blue Heron
9 Cattle Egret
10 Snowy Egret
11 White-faced Ibis
12 Sandhill Crane
13 Long-tailed Duck
14 Mallard
15 Ruddy Duck
16 Red-breasted Merganser
17 Common Goldeneye
18 Redhead
19 Canvasback
20 Bufflehead
21 Barrow's Goldeneye
22 Common Merganser
23 American Coot
24 Killdeer
25 Spotted Sandpiper
26 Greater Yellowlegs
27 Long-billed Dowitcher
28 Ring-billed Gull
29 Turkey Vulture
30 Ferruginous Hawk
31 Northern Harrier
32 Osprey
33 Red-tailed Hawk
34 American Kestrel
35 Gambel's Quail
36 Mourning Dove
37 Rock Dove
38 Greater Roadrunner
39 White-throated Swift


# Species
40 Anna's Hummingbird
41 Costa's Hummingbird
42 Belted Kingfisher
43 Northern Flicker
44 Say's Phoebe
45 Black Phoebe
46 Vermilion Flycatcher
47 Horned Lark
48 Violet-green Swallow
49 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
50 Common Raven
51 Marsh Wren
52 Rock Wren
53 House Wren
54 American Robin
55 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
56 Loggerhead Shrike
57 Northern Mockingbird
58 Sage Thrasher
59 American Pipit
60 Phainopepla
61 European Starling
62 Orange-crowned Warbler
63 Yellow-rumped Warbler
64 Yellow-headed Blackbird
65 Western Meadowlark
66 Red-winged Blackbird
67 Great-tailed Grackle
68 Brown-headed Cowbird
69 Brewer's Blackbird
70 House Sparrow
71 Dark-eyed Junco
72 Vesper Sparrow
73 Black-throated Sparrow
74 Lincoln's Sparrow
75 Brewer's Sparrow
76 Spotted Towhee
77 Abert's Towhee
78 White-crowned Sparrow
79 House Finch

Photos Henry D. Detwiler, Lou Murray, & Bob Miller