David Hoag's post of an apparent Arctic Loon is certainly intriguing. Even so, I would echo Taj Scottland's request for more details on the actual observation rather than just mentioning that an Arctic Loon was seen, or that there have been further observations from experienced birders. As Taj indicates, this would be a huge observation for any of the New England States or the East Coast and fully deserving of more attention than it's being credited with right now, at least in the public forum. At the moment, we are left wondering what David has seen on this bird to make him suggest that it might be an Arctic Loon rather than Pacific or even a small Common Loon.
As far as I'm aware, the only true diagnostic feature of Arctic is the presence of a distinct white patch or oval at the rear of the flanks. This should be present on a discernible Arctic Loon and visible with prolonged looks in the field.
However, I recently (well before this report) did a pic search of definite Arctics from Europe on the web and found that only about 70-75% of them show the flank patch in images. Often the feature would be obscured by a wave or the fact that the bird's carriage was very low in the water.
If the Grand Isle bird is showing a strong white rear flank patch then it would surely be a candidate for an Arctic Loon.
Here's some images of certain Arctics from Israel:
And one from Alaska digiscoped at half a mile in range;
Please scroll down the page for the Arctic Loon.
It would be excellent if further details on the id., and possibly some images could be posted for this exciting observation.
James P. Smith
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