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Hi all,

Saturday June 27th, I took a trip on a head boat out of Destin Harbor  
in an attempt to add some pelagics to my panhandle county lists.  The  
highlight of the trip was a multitude of gannets feeding just  
offshore as the boat headed into the ornithological abyss of the Gulf  
of Mexico.  Of the 27 there were a few adults, but mainly young  
birds.  This morning, I headed back out to Destin Bridge, the west  
side of the US 98 bridge in Destin.   I birded my way out to the  
water's edge, adding Sandwich tern and Yellow-crowned night-heron to  
my Okaloosa list, and started scanning the dozens of boats fishing  
offshore.  After a few minutes I was able to pick up a few sulids  
fishing among the boats.  I was closer to the birds on the 27th, but  
I only had binoculars on a bumpy boat.  Now, I was further away, but  
on solid ground with a 'scope.  I am not sure how many birds were  
there today, at least six.  Last time, there were several birds,  
including a flock of 15, on the water.  From shore, I could only see  
flying birds.  I did observe one adult gannet, at least four young  
birds (two year olds?) and one bird that may have been a three year  
old (?)  The upper wings and back were all dark, but the head was  
pale yellow like an adult.  I was also able to view the pale  
uppertail coverts to rule out boobies.  It would be interesting to  
see if these birds last the summer.

On the way back, with boobies still on the brain, I saw a dead gannet/ 
booby on the beach.  I dropped down to check the feathering on the  
face to determine Gannet or booby.  The bird was in pretty bad shape  
and I could not determine much.  Then I noticed the big ol' feet  
sticking out from aft section of the bird.  Oops, it was a loon!  I  
guess I should have looked a little closer at the bill.  I don't know  
how long it had been there, but it was missing feathers and was  
pretty saturated with sand.

Other highlights were two Black terns on the beach (six on the 27th),  
a pair of Snowy plovers with a chick, Western and Semipalmated  
sandpipers, and a breeding plumaged Short-billed dowitcher.  Still no  
Wilson's plover for my Okaloosa County list.

David Simpson
Fellsmere (Crestview for now), FL

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