Date: 6/23/18 9:52 pm
From: Tom Wilberding <twilberding...>
Subject: [cobirds] Yellow-billed loon: Jeffco to Barrow

Just got back from a bird photo workshop in Barrow, Alaska. Our group was
fortunate to stumble on a Yellow-billed loon in breeding plumage. I could
not help thinking about the YBLO at South Platte Reservoir in Jefferson
County last winter. This species undergoes quite a transformation at
breeding time—from drab and very shy to dramatic colors and a very
confident attitude.


Rest of the story, if you're interested.
We spotted this loon while driving by Barrow’s sewage treatment pond at 2
AM. (Sweet light all night in Barrow in late spring. Bird all night, sleep
all day.)

Our leader said that to photograph waterfowl at breeding time it helps to
GET INTO THE WATER to get your camera lens at the eye level of the
waterfowl. This calms the birds down and prompts them to approach you, to
see why apes like you are kneeling and crouching in *their *pond. So for
this workshop you wear chest waders.

In we go, dark icy water about 30 inches deep, then kneel down, place
tripod in water, crouch as low as you can. BTW, air temp is 29 degrees.
Fingers frozen. My lens is 420 mm versus everyone else at 600 or 800 mm.
The good news—surprisingly no stink, and certainly no mosquitoes. The
Yellow-billed loon slowly crosses the sewage pond toward us, gets closer
and closer. Per the pop song, “Shy No More.”

First job back home--hose down chest waders.


Tom Wilberding
Littleton, CO

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