On June 12 in Alburg, just offshore where Middle Road intersects West
Shore Road, Dick LaVallee, one of Vermont's most experienced observers,
videotaped a strange, juvenile-plumaged (first summer) loon, the likes of
which he had never seen before. The photos were shared with a number of
individuals, including members of a Yahoo group called SFBIRDS in the Bay
Area of California where this species occurs as a vagrant. The discussion
was mixed, some thinking the bird was a YBLO, others arguing that there was
not enough in the photos to make the call, thereby leaning toward the much
more likely Common Loon.
Three of us searched the Alburg lake shore this morning for the bird
with no luck - though we did see a single Brant flying south as well as
several Common Loons.
Dick generously shared a video he prepared that included the original
footage plus some slow-mo enhancements. Based on the video, I believe the
case for YBLO is even stronger, if not conclusive. Because of the rarity of
this species (this would be a first state record and one of a handful of
records for the entire east coast), plus disagreements about some of this
bird's characteristics, final determination will come at the annual meeting
of the Rare Birds Records Committee in the fall.
While it is not practical to share the video with all who would like to
see it, Dick offered to isolate a couple of better video stills. When those
are available, they will be posted for all to see. In the meantime, a photo
collage of the bird can be seen at the following site:
As a winter vagrant, YBLO often remains in an area for quite some time.
I pass the word along in hopes folks will be alert to the possibility,
especially if you are birding the northern end of the lake.
Compiler, VT Rare Bird Alert
416 Hanover Center Road
Etna, NH 03750
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