Gene Reid, Dan Livengood, Cheryl Kilpatrick, and I drove down to Tenkiller Lake in Sequoyah County this morning and braved the bitter cold to look for the Red-throated and Pacific Loons that Jim Arterburn saw last week.... AND FOUND 'EM!!
The marina at Strayhorn Landing was our first stop but all the loons we saw there were Commons, altho' we tried like the dickens to make them more exotic. One was in beautiful breeding plumage; the rest were a motley collection of black, gray, and white. A ton of Ring-billed Gulls was lined up on the floating tires around the marina, along with _one_ Bonaparte's Gull. We continued on down the road to the Day Camp loop and found 2 large rafts of Eared Grebes and 6-7 Horned Grebes south of the campground peninsula.
Continuing around the south end of the lake counterclockwise, we found an adult Bald Eagle soaring over the west end of the dam. At Tenkiller State Park, we drove down Tenkiller Drive and pulled down to the road right next to the water, on the south shore of the marina/bay as it opens onto the lake (the road to Fisherman's Landing). And there, among many Common Loons and hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls, we found first a couple of Pacific Loons (see above photograph) and then at least one Red-throated Loon, both of which were lifers for Gene and Dan, and Cheryl thought the Red-throated was a lifebird for her, too. The birds were so close to us (right where the marina bay opens into the lake, with the sun behind us) that we could've counted the feathers on their backs, and I squealed with delight when I saw the red eyeballs on one bird. Really, really exciting!!
We stopped for lunch at Big Daddy's Restaurant---BBQ buffet and fresh cherry and apple cobblers for dessert---then drove back into the park and turned right, heading north toward Blackgum Landing but missed the turn. However, all was not lost; at Snake Creek Cove, we found several Red-breasted Mergansers and a female(?) White-winged Scoter (don't know if it was the same bird Jim reported on Monday) that was a lifebird for all four of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I picked up 13 yearbirds, including the White-winged Scoter, a lifer!! It was bitter, bitter cold out despite the bright sunshine (with very little wind), but worth every shivering moment!! Thanks, Jim, for posting about your Tenkiller finds last week. We didn't know if we'd see any of the same birds you did, but it turns out we saw all 3 of the biggies! and we were SO excited!!
| Lake Tenkiller
Sequoyah County, OK
Mar 1, 2009
|(c) copyright by C.Browning, 3/1/2009|
|Common and Pacific Loons, courtesy of Jim Arterburn|