Common Loons at Wesport

My disappointment that I had cut my Malheur trip short was short-lived because after a day at home unpacking the car, I spent a long Friday at Westport and, later, at Bottle Beach observing the shorebirds Spring migration. Usually I go to Westport after Bottle Beach, but with a 6:00 PM high tide, I reversed my usual pattern.

Westport is my favorite place to observe Common Loons because it’s one of the few places where I can get close enough to get really good photographs. Of course, it’s usually the loons not in breeding colors that are the easiest to get shots of, and Friday was no exception. This loon was waiting for me right off the dock when I entered the marina:

Common Loon in non-breeding plumage

On my walk out to the end of the jetty, the only loon I saw in breeding colors was quite far out:

Common Loon in the Distance

I was beginning to think that the long walk out to the end of the jetty was a waste of time especially since there wasn’t a Brown Pelican in sight. On the way back, though, an Osprey flew over me,


and the long walk seemed worthwhile.

On my return, one of the Common Loons in breeding colors had moved closer to the dock and was apparently preening and taking his mid-morning bath,

Loon Bathing

or at least that is how I interpreted it, though there might also have been some showing off for other loons because I didn’t see a mate during the thirty or so minutes I was watching, and this looked a lot more like displaying than washing.

Common Loon in breeding colors

It’s easy to forget how big these birds really are, especially since you seldom see them with their wings spread out like this,

 Common Loon in breeding colors

but unfortunately I wasn’t able to fit its entire 4 foot wingspan into the frame.

I was pretty sure that the loon wasn’t showing off for me, but when it finished its morning ritual, it turned and slowly glided past the dock. For a moment I wondered who was watching whom.

Common Loon in breeding colors

A perfect prelude to the rest of the day.