Common Loon

In a chaotic year where little seemed to go as planned, I searched harder than usual for signs that the natural order of things was unaffected by mankind’s pandemic.  While the very fact that I had to search harder than usual was not reassuring, in the end it seemed Nature was still on schedule.

Observing Common Loons in breeding plumage at Ft. Flagler and, particularly, Westport has become one of my favorite traditions since I saw one there in 2010.  I saw my first Common Loon in breeding colors at Ft. Flagler on April 6th — unfortunately, it was a long way away.

Inspired by that sighting, I went to Westport on April 11th and found a single Common Loon in breeding plumage.  Luckily, he was a very cooperative loon and posed a few feet away,

rising out of the water, flapping his wings to reveal his full beauty.

Unfortunately, he insisted on keeping the sun right behind him.  I had to wait until my May 8th visit to get a photo that shows the green band around its throat.

When I returned May 15th in a final attempt to catch the Shorebird Spring Migration I only found a single juvenile 3rd year Common Loon,

It would probably seem unimportant whether or not I got a shot of a Common Loon in breeding colors since I already have twelve years of shots, but, if I’ve discovered anything this year, it’s that small habits, small traditions can become quite important.  

I’ve done a lot of birding this year, perhaps even more than normal, but it hasn’t felt the same because I couldn’t stop at the restaurants I’ve always eaten at in previous years.  A trip to Ocean Shores isn’t the same without stopping at the Galway Bay Irish Pub after a morning of birding.  Birding the Port Orchard Marina isn’t the same without stopping at La Palpa without my Lime Jarritos and Chile Relleno. 

This year may well have been a disaster, but it did remind me that those “unimportant” traditions may be much more important than we realize. 

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