Tips and advice for getting great wildlife photos
Thursday morning, I headed up to check on the Eastons. When I las visited, the parents weren’t on the pond and the chicks were practicing takeoffs, but couldn’t quite get airborne.
The adults usually stick around this pond until the last week of September, with the chicks departing in the first week of October. Looks like the parents took an early leave this year, with one chick following.
The chick on the pond was foraging lazily when I arrived. I watched for a time before hearing a loon calling overhead. I was expecting one of our parents to drop in to check on things, but the loon appeared to fly over.
Our loon chicks are now 12 weeks old. They’re almost ready to take care of themselves. This week, they’ve been practicing adult calls, postures and they’re trying to fly. I was able to visit the Eastons twice since the last post.
I’ll be down at the Fall Crafts at Lyndhurst Show in Tarrytown, NY this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Stop by to check out all the new images in prints and note cards. All the show details here.
Last Friday, the Eastons’ pond was above most of the fog at sunup. As I headed down the pond I met one chick coming up.
The Middletons appear to have scooted from their pond, they haven’t been spotted in almost a week. The Westons were doing well as of this past weekend. Both chicks are growing and getting independent. I’m hoping to get a chance to visit them before they head out.
Monday morning there were stars above and a thick fog over the river in the valley below. I decided to risk a trip to visit the Eastons. Most of the trip to the pond was slow going through the fog. As I started to climb towards the pond, I rose back above the fog to find a beautiful morning.
Dad was foraging by himself near the boat launch, he paddled in close to hoot softly to me before returning to feasting on crayfish. Mom called a couple times while I was getting the boat in the water. This is the pond where Dad is banded, letting me tell who is who if I can see a leg.
The chicks were keeping mom busy. They’re very demanding, poking and pulling feathers whenever she got near. She didn’t spend much time on the surface, she’d dive quickly when a chick got near. I’m convinced this is why the parents leave the pond before the chicks – they just want some peace.
Heading back to the boat launch, I pass dad who is lazily paddling along, seemingly enjoying the peace and quiet on this end of the pond.
I was surprised the fog hadn’t shown up on the pond, there’s usually a period where the pond gets foggy as the fog lifts from the valley. Driving back towards home, I discovered why – the fog was still sitting heavy on the river.
Back at the house, the goldfinches have discovered the thistle I left for them.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello at the League of NH Craftsmen Fair. Nice to know there are actually people out there looking at my blog. My next show will be the Fall Crafts at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, NY September 8, 9 & 10.
The weather and my travels have kept me from checking in on the loons since July 24 when I found the Eastons fighting with a pair of intruders challenging them for the pond. Sunday morning dawned without rain and only a light breeze. I headed back to check on the Eastons.
It was time for me to head out and I started paddling towards the boat launch.
A friend on the Middleton’s pond tells me they’ve had intruders regularly over the past few weeks. I’m watching the weather and will get out to check on them and the Westons as soon as I can.
Machias Seal Island in the Bay of Fundy hosts large colonies of Atlantic puffins, razorbills and common murres, along with smaller numbers of common and arctic terns every summer. When I first heard about the island, I heard there were 2,000-4,000 puffins that nested there. Later I heard estimates of 4,000-6,000 and 6,000 to 8,000 puffins. The flock of murres was either slightly larger, or slightly smaller than the flock of puffins. This visit, I heard there were 8,000 pairs of puffins. So, I remain confused about how many birds there actually are. But, on a 15 acre (at high tide) island, there are plenty.
You have to visit the island with a tour. There are tour operators in Cutler, Maine and on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick. The Maine operator sells his season out in minutes when he starts sales in January. This year, I ventured to Grand Manan with a friend to visit the island.
Puffins, razorbills and murres all live at sea and come ashore only to raise their young. We’re getting late in the season. Most of the razorbills and murres have fledged their chicks and returned to the sea. It was hard to tell how many puffins were still around. We had a hot day and many of them seemed to be in the water around the island. And, when they arrived on the island, they were usually hauling food for the pufflings. They’d land and quickly hop down into their burrow to feed the puffling.
Probably won’t have time for any updates until after the League Fair. I’ll be out to check on the loons as soon as I can.
Sunday morning, the sky looked like there was a chance of some sunshine. I headed out to visit the Eastons. There was a light fog with hints of blue sky above when I arrived at the pond. And, it was a very pleasant 55° when I launched. The fog rapidly lifted for a beautiful morning. Our loon family was all together and the parents were both feeding the chicks.
One parent went north, one went south. It wasn’t long before the one to the south sounded an alert. The one to the north went steaming down the pond at a good clip.
The rain let up enough for me to get out to check on all three loon families this week. And, I only got caught in a shower once.
The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair is coming right up, August 5th through the 12th. I’ll be down there with lots of wildlife and other photos. Stop by booth 726 and say hello. All the details for the fair are here.
I visited the Middletons last night. They’re the ones that lost their chick. On the last visit, they showed signs they might be courting again. That was before the heavy rains and flooding. We were spared the worst of the flooding, but did get significant rain. A friend on the pond has kept me updated. She says the loons have had one or two intruders on the pond regularly. When I visited, the hummock where they’ve nested the last several years has been washed away, with no sign of another nesting spot. There was an intruder on the pond, with some circling and posturing but no outright fights.
This morning, the forecast was for rain and thundershowers. When I got up, there were stars visible. I headed out to check on the Westons. One of the adults and two chicks were foraging not far from the boat launch. The other adult soon came down the pond to join them. They were in shadows, I headed up the pond to see who else might be about. The rain held off until I got to the other end of the pond. I had a soggy retreat.
On Wednesday morning, the forecast was mixed and there were a couple stars between clouds when I got up. I took a chance and headed east to visit the Eastons.
Bad weather and too many chores kept me from checking on the loons for a time. When the weather cleared this week, I was quick to hit the water.
I’ll be down at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s 90th annual Fair in Sunapee, NH, August 5th to the 13th. Stop by to have a look. All the Fair details here.
Let’s start with a few pix of the Eastons from the day after my last post. The chicks are two and three days old. This is the pair where dad is banded, allowing me to tell them apart – sometimes.
That evening, I made it over to check on the Middletons.
The next morning, I returned to visit the Eastons. They spent most of their morning feeding the chicks.
The morning of the sixth, I headed west to check on the Westons. Their pond has steep hills on both sides of the southern end of the pond. The family spent most of the morning foraging in deep shadows along the side of the pond. I headed out to see who else was about.
The usual suspects were out and about, kingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, lots of warblers seen not heard. But the best find was a trio of tree swallow fledglings and their parents feeding them.
The last three years, the Eastons have hatched their chicks the third Friday and Saturday of June. I’d visited last Friday without any sign of chicks. Monday’s forecast suggested a chance I’d not get rained on. I headed out to visit the Eastons in a thick fog.
The weather improved throughout the day, I went to visit the Middletons in the evening. Our off duty parent was preening for some time before giving a series of four stretches.
I’ll try to keep up with all three families through the summer. If you know someone who might be interested in following along, please share my blog with them.
UPDATE: We’ve got a second pair of chicks that have hatched since I posted this. Lots of pix in their own post at here.
The weather final cleared enough to let me get back out to check on our three loon families. Well, sort of. I got very wet the first evening and made it back to the car with seconds to spare the second.
First, there’s some sad news from Vermont, the oldest known loon in Vermont has died. His age was estimated at 31 years. VT Diggerhttps://vtdigger.org/2023/06/15/vermonts-oldest-loon-dies-at-the-estimated-age-of-31/ has a piece interviewing Eric Hanson, Lead Biologist at the Loon Conservation Project about the loon.
With loon chicks hatching it is once again time to request that you give them space if you go to see or photograph them. You may not intend them any harm, but you may distract the parents from seeing other threats. Our new loon chicks were greeted by a circling eagle on their first or second day out. The parents need to concentrate on the real threats, keep back and let them do their job. All the images of chicks here were with a 600mm lens and heavily cropped.
Tuesday evening I got a message from a friend on the Weston’s pond that the chicks had arrived. And that the eagle was eyeing them. Wednesday morning was wet and windy. It gradually cleared a bit through the day. I set out in the evening to check on the chicks. It was sunny when I left the house. On the way into the pond, I had to wait while a doe browsed from the road – with her fawn gamboling about in the road. By the time I had everything in the boat, there were a few sprinkles. Not enough to dissuade in intrepid photographer.
Thursday evening, I went back to check on the Westons. This time with just a couple puffy clouds in the sky.
This morning, I was up and out by 0430, with clouds above and fog below me as I headed to see the Eastons. They’re up in the White Mountain National Forest, they were on their nest by the time the Forest Service got the road to the pond open, so we don’t know when to expect the chicks. But, the last three years, they’ve hatched in the third weekend of June, so soon…..
I’ll be out looking for the rest of our chicks as soon as we get a break in the weather.
Link to the newer post: https://blog.ianclark.com/photography/wildlife-photography/the-eastons-have-two-chicks/