Woodward Loon and other stuff


I birded 28 Mile Road from the bridge at Woodward to Sonora Road and back this afternoon. My best finds from the bridge were nearly SIXTY Clark's/Western Grebes (39 Westerns, 5 Clark's and 19 that were too far out to ID positively, several of the Westerns were on nests), a couple of Black-necked Stilt chicks on the island east of the bridge, a Wilson's Phalarope (also on the island), nearly 100 Forster's Terns (many also on nests and three chicks seen on the island) and two White-faced Ibis. I didn't find anything notable between the bridge and the dirt section of 28 Mile Road but the egret rookery at the ranch on the curve is going strong. The highlight on the dirt section of 28 Mile Road was a couple of GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS. These were in the exact spot that I found them in 2017, 1.1 miles north of the intersection of Eastman Road. They have returned to this spot for the last three years. I saw one perched on the fence on the east side of the road and stopped to take a picture and the bird did not move. I put the car in park and picked up my camera and the bird did not move. I turned off the engine to reduce vibration for a better photo and the bird flew away! I went up to Sonora Road and turned around and when I got back to the spot there was one GRASSHOPPER SPARROW on each side of the road. I got my photos!

But the best sighting of the day came while I was counting the terns and gulls perched out on the boom near the concrete wall on the reservoir. I saw a largish bird with a gray back and heavy bill just as it submerged. I spent the next 30 minutes-or-so searching until I finally relocated the bird. My suspicions were verified: an alternate plumaged COMMON LOON! I got some poor, but IDable photos and spent the next 45 minutes hoping the loon would come close enough for some good photos but it never did. After I drove the dirt section of 28 Mile Road I stopped at the bridge again in hopes that the loon had finally moved closer to the road but I could not refind it.

And as always, happy birding, stay safe, stay SANE and may the light be with you,
Ralph Baker, Riverbank