Loon Surprise

During the busy summer days, it sometimes is not easy for me to sneak away.  On a recent morning, Greg asked if I had twenty minutes to spare, as he had something he wanted to show me.  He told me to grab my camera, and that we were going by boat. It was only 7:45, and my schedule allowed for it, so I grabbed some yogurt, thinking I could eat breakfast while we rode along.  After pushing the  boat into the water, Greg started the motor and we skimmed across the lake.  

It was a beautiful morning, filled with sunshine but little wind. We boated into a nearby bay, and he started to make large swipes and passes, near to shore.  Finally he told me what he was looking for:  a mama loon and her baby.  Some neighbors had seen the pair in this bay the day before, and Greg was hoping that she was still there.  I've never seen a baby---it looked promising that I was going to

get my chance.

Soon, we spotted them, and we carefully crept closer.   We kept a respectful distance and cut the motor, allowing us to drift along quietly.  I was grateful for the bit of zoom capability on my camera, so that I could capture a few photos and some video, too.  I was also glad that we didn't seem to be disturbing the little family at all.  They just kept swimming back and forth, mama keeping an eye sternly fixed in our direction.

loonbaby1.jpg

I had expected the little one to be grey in color, but it was a drab brown. Better camouflage, I supposed. Considering that the winter plumage of a loon is brown, I guess it isn't surprising. This one actually seemed  to be a little older, so it didn't need to ride on its mother's back.  It kept close to the parent, and she often shielded the chick from our view.  When I could see the two clearly, I noticed that they had a similar profile--long, low bodies and the same crook to the neck and set to the head.  Distinctly a loon.  I liked that.

loonbaby2.jpg

When I felt I had made enough attempts at photographs, I switched to the video button on my camera.  Perhaps the adult knew this, because she started to talk a bit.  It wasn't the traditional long calls we are accustomed to.  Rather, it was just some short little notes, almost like a quick greeting.  For all I know, it could have been a warning, but she certainly didn't seem agitated.

The twenty minutes were definitely up, so we began our ride back to the lodge.  But when we rounded the point, I spotted an eagle in a tree, just down the shoreline.  We motored over for a closer look.

eagle.jpg

This guy REALLY watched us.  It wasn't even thirty seconds, and he determined that he didn't want to hang around, and we saw his massive wings unfold and lift him into the air.  He swooped away, and landed in a tree further down the lake.  I figured that was a good thing.  It meant that he was that much farther away from that lovely little loon chick that I had just seen. 

Seeing a baby loon has long been on my list of things to see here in the Northwoods.  I'm grateful to Greg for having given me that gift.