Date: 10/25/20 7:24 am
From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...>
Subject: Lake, with many loons (Tenkiller)
Best winter loon day is low wind (5 mph or less), partly cloudy, cool. Late Friday night I saw the Saturday prediction: 4 mph at 8 am, and DROPPING. Temp in the 40s all day. So at last moment, a hasty plan to observe what’s up, loon-wise, on our region’s premier winter loon lake – Tenkiller in eastern Oklahoma.
One thing I hadn’t considered was fog, as the lake gives up warmth into suddenly cold air. Would it be all fogged in when we arrived at Cherokee Landing State Park, the lake’s closest point for us traveling from Fayetteville? Amazingly, no fog.
The day works best for us traveling from Fayetteville to visit public parks along the east side of the lake. We start at CLSP, then north on Highway 82/100 towards the dam: Carlisle Landing, Carlisle Cove, Cookson Bend, Sixshooter, Chicken Creek, Snake Creek (marina), Blackgum Landing, Tenkiller State Park, dam, and finally Strayhorn Landing.
We left Fayetteville 6 am, back at 4:30 pm. No formal stops for bathroom, gas, or food. Result: Common Loon (99), Pacific Loon (1), lots of other water bird species. You could just make a day of gulls, or ducks, or grebes. All loons we saw were still in their summer plumage, so recently arrived.
A couple of moments I liked best: a boatload of anglers at Chicken Creek and a line of 25 Common Loons behind them, in the same cove. For same or similar reasons, too. It’s all about fish.
Geese were migrating most of the day. Flock after flock, we stopped scanning for loons to scan overhead. It was thrilling. In one spot there were a bunch of ripe persimmons, so I stopped with geese and went for ‘simmons.
After the long day, we pulled into the McDonald’s at Stillwell. Vivek got well-deserved large fries. He’d spent the day tallying birds and submitting 19 eBird checklists. But geese were still going over as we left Stillwell. Snows or white-fronts? Ross’s with snows? With large fries in one hand, Vivek had a dilemma. I know the Arkansas birding community will be relieved to hear he put aside fries and went for overhead geese. I have known many birders over the years; few would make such a choice after a 10-hour day. (They were all White-fronted Geese).
Here’s is one of Vivek’s 19 checklists. I’ve included this one because it includes comparative photos of Common Loon and Pacific Loon:<>. He also compiled a summary of all species seen. I will send that to anyone who’d like a copy.


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