Throughout the Maine Big Year, Ingrid and I have spent quite a bit of time on ferries and whale watch boats trying to get at many of the seabirds that prowl the oceans off our coast. Most of these birds live their entire lives at sea . . . only coming to land to breed and nest . . . often on the other side of the planet . . . only moving through Maine waters for brief periods of time.
Today we piled onto a boat out of Boothbay Harbor with fifty other birders for a four hour pelagic trip. The trip organizer who has helped me during the Big Year asked me what bird I “needed”. I told him “something bizarre that doesn’t belong here” . . . I had all the normal stuff. Derek said it was possible and the captain got us underway.
We hadn’t been moving for five minutes when the boat erupted with excitement . . . a Pacific Loon was swimming right beside us . . . while we were still in the harbor.
A Pacific Loon, as you might imagine does not belong in the Atlantic, but every year a handful of these birds leave their arctic breeding grounds and then fly east instead of west.
This wayward bird is Maine Big Year Bird #314.