Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2009-08

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 11/11, 12, 13, & 11/15/08
Time: various
Length of time observed: hour+
Number: 1
Age: juvenile
Location: Quail Creek State Park
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Distance to bird: ~20 - 50 m
Optical equipment: 20-60x scope, 300 mm lens
Weather: various
Light Conditions: various
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
Quail Creek State Park, Washington County, UT
November 11, 2008, 0800   1500; 
also Nov. 12, 13 & 15.

A juvenile Red-throated Loon was in the inflow area of Quail Creek Reservoir around 0800 on November 11, 2008.  It was actively diving and foraging in less than 25 ft. of clear water.  I observed it eating a six inch rainbow trout.  Apparently, based on the high number of fisherman on the banks and boats, fish were concentrated in this portion of lake. There were approximately 24 DC Cormorants on the lake and some would occasionally fly in and forage in the inflow area as well. However, there were five Common Loons and 15 Western Grebes spread around the deeper portions of the lake. 

I took photos and observed the loon for about an hour and a half (0830   1000).  I was searching the lake and nearby areas throughout the day for a possible Arctic Loon I observed briefly at dusk on November 10, 2008, so I occasionally checked on the RT Loon and it remained around the inflow until dusk. I also observed the loon in the same area while driving by on November 12 at 1030. The loon remained at Quail Creek through November 15.  A second individual (with smudgy markings on the throat) turned up at QCSP November 25   29.

Small and sleek loon, with a proportionally thick neck and thin stellato bill. Very pale overall; with light gray head, crown, and neck, darkest on nape and gradually fading to pale gray on the front on the neck; white chin; dark eye very prominent on face, and visible from a long distance, eye appeared reddish at close view; gray bill with dark culmen, often held slightly upward, lower mandible upturned near tip; neck typically held very straight, and unlike other loons no visible neck bulge; very fine pale vermiculations at the base of the neck and onto the body; back, tail and sides dark gray with white speckling; wings dark gray with white edged scapulars; belly and sides bright white. 

A storm (rain and snow at high elevations) moved through on November 9 and 10. Fair numbers of grebes and loons were around the county, including Common Loons observed on Nov 10 at Quail Creek (7), Sand Hollow (6), Enterprise (2), Baker (1), and Upper Sand Cove (1).
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none
Behavior: above
Habitat: reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
yes, this is the seventh or eighth I've observed in Utah, and frequently elsewhere
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: Hurricane, UT
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 03-29-08
Additional material: Photos
Additional Comments: copied from field notes written following the sighting