Yellow-billed Loon at Harrisburg, Dauphin County, PA
Providing a long-anticipated first state record, this confiding Yellow-billed Loon was discovered on
the west bank of the Susquehanna River across from Harrisburg by Cameron Rutt on May 4. It remained in the same area the next
day and was enjoyed by at least 100 birders. Keeping the company of six Common Loons also on the river these two days, the
Yellow-billed spent the majority of its time in close proximity to the river bank just south of the West Fairview boat launch,
much to the delight of the scads of onlookers who turned out to witness this mega-rarity.
The photos below were taken on the morning of the 5th, and obviously, backlighting was an issue. With the bird hugging
the west bank of the river, camera lenses had to be pointed east and into the sun. Afternoon lighting would have been much
better, but still, it's hard to get upset when presented with an opportunity to see something as rare as this so close to
At one point I decided to stop trying to fight the backlight and do what one traditionally does when faced with that
situation -- silhouettes. The photo below actually is my favorite of the day, even though it stinks when considered as rare
bird documentation. I particularly like the direct profile showing the distinct shape of the head and bill, and the very subtle
yellow highlight at the bill tip caused by the sunlight glowing through.