[mou] Long-billed Murrelet, Barrow's Goldeneye, Red-throated and Pacific Loons at Park Point

Peder Svingen psvingen at d.umn.edu
Tue Nov 4 18:32:18 CST 2008

At 11:05 AM today (11/4/2008), I found a murrelet on Lake Superior,  
~350 yards ESE of the viewing platform just south of the ballfields at  
the Park Point Recreation Area. The lake surface was perfectly calm at  
the time and the bird was swimming steadily towards the SE. At 11:25  
AM, it started diving and moving even farther away from my position  
and by 11:35 AM, I could no longer find it. The bird had a black cap  
and black nape, and dark gray (blackish) upperparts except for two  
elongated white patches on its scapulars/wing coverts. Its throat and  
breast were gleaming white. Its bill was held above horizontal at all  
times and appeared to be dark, but I could not be sure of its bill  
color and could not see fine details of its facial pattern, e.g.,  
whether or not it showed white eye crescents.

I did not have any field guides or other references with me at the  
time, but soon realized that this could only be a Long-billed/Marbled  
Murrelet. Long-billed Murrelet was formerly referred to as the  
"Asiatic race" of the Marbled Murrelet, but was returned to full  
species status several years ago. For further information, see <http://www.oceanwanderers.com/LongbillMurrelet.html 
 >. Long-billed Murrelet has established a pattern of vagrancy to the  
interior of North America {Mlodinow, S.G. 1997. The Long-billed  
Murrelet (Brachyramphus perdix) in North America. Birding 29(6):  
460-475). If confirmed by the MOU Records Committee, this would  
represent the first state record of this species.

Don Kienholz, Mike Hendrickson, and Jan & John Green arrived before I  
had to return to work and refound the bird, but it had moved a  
considerable distance from its original position and by that time was  
at least 800 yards away. Fortunately, the Benson family, Anthony  
Hertzel, and Sparky Stensaas hiked past the airport on Park Point and  
refound the bird much closer to shore and in good light during the mid- 
afternoon. Anthony is confident that the bird is indeed a Long-billed  
Murrelet and Sparky has posted photos at <http://www.stoneridgepress.com/Murrelet.htm 
 >. Mike Hendrickson said that the bird was still visible at 4:00 PM,  
but after that time it became increasingly overcast with rain showers,  
wind, and poor visibility on Park Point.

Other birds of interest at Park Point today:
Barrow's Goldeneye -- adult male still present in Duluth harbor just  
south of the bus turnaround at 43rd Street;
Red-throated Loon -- two at the murrelet location;
Pacific Loon -- one at the murrelet location and one seen flying  
towards Canal Park (chin strap and vent strap seen in flight);
Surf and White-winged Scoters -- with the flock of goldeneyes.

Peder H. Svingen
Duluth, MN

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