When the nesting pontoon went in earlier this year, we were hopeful that the pair of loons anxiously awaiting its installation would reward us in short order with an egg. That they did, but it subsequently disappeared from the nest, a victim of nocturnal foul play by an unidentified predator. Mother Nature can be cruel.
This morning we were reminded that Mother Nature also rejuvenates. While the loons were definitely hanging around, fishing and calling to each other day and night, it wasn’t until today that we were treated to a glimpse of a very, very freshly hatched chick.
Pete speculated the hatch occurred in a safer spot over by what he and his sisters used to call “Dead Man’s Bay.” Seemingly in defiance of this somewhat unfortunate moniker, the pair had gone on to nest again. Early this morning, the hatchling wasn’t yet strong enough to climb fully on the mother’s back as is typical of the species. It barely was able to make it up on the tail.
At home in the water despite being so new, the chick swam well and didn’t seem too fearful when both parents dove under, leaving it alone on the surface. At other times, the parent literally took baby loon under its wing, guiding and protecting.
This was a great opportunity for Pete and our niece Olivia to get the shots you see here. She went over by boat as the little family claimed the other side of our small bay for an afternoon of acclimating their young one to the water. In an hour or so, the chick had made it up its mother’s back to nestle in closely to her neck, more difficult for predators to see.
“I’ve had my camera since February, and it’s special because it was a gift from Grampa,” Olivia told me. “I’ve taken it on many trips. I prefer animal and nature photography and it was exciting to get these shots.”
What I liked about Olivia’s photos is the light dancing on the water in contrast to the sharp focus on the chick’s downy coat. Over on that side of our little bay there is a wall of trees on the shore. It’s amazing how varied the colors of the lake can be from these different perspectives.
Now we know why the loon parents have been so vocal. Pete observed a lone loon come in and try to fish, and they went on territorial offense, chasing the unwanted visitor away. Other predators or rivals may be making their attempts under cover of darkness. For an idea of what we hear through the open windows at night, visit this post where we included audio samples.
It will be fun to watch this chick grow throughout the summer, as the Wuebkers have been doing for many years. We already feel very protective toward it. It’s nice to keep the tradition and be intimately involved with these fascinating creatures. And we’ll set out the pontoon again each year to repeat the experience.
- Putting in Our Loon Nesting Platform (passingthru.com)