While scanning the park edges for Burrowing Owls, I saw an intriguing white and grey bird in the water just north of the park. I got lucky and captured a few seconds of video before it dove out of sight, to reappear who knows where and when. On looking at the image, it’s clear to me that it’s a loon. A nonbreeding loon, winter plumage, to be exact.
In breeding plumage, loons are a piece of cake to identify. In winter plumage, one loon looks much like another.
I’m going to go out on a big limb here and say that this is a Red-throated Loon, and is not a Pacific Loon or a Common Loon. It has too much white on its face and neck to be a Common Loon, and it even has more white in those areas than the Pacific Loon, although that’s marginal. What tips it for the red-throated is the way it carries its bill. Except when it’s preening, obviously, it carries its bill slightly pointed upward, in a cheerful, optimistic posture. The Pacific Loon, by contrast, keeps its bill level. It’s only a few degrees difference, but it separates the species. See the Cornell bird lab website.
Red-throated Loons are uncommon hereabouts, in my experience. I saw another one in winter plumage here just about a year ago. In August two years ago, I had the great good fortune to see one here in the North Basin in full breeding plumage. It’s becoming an interesting winter, birdwise.