Checking In On Our Loon Families

Our loon chicks were two and three weeks old this past weekend. I got out to visit the Eastons and the Westons (the families at the east and west ends of my travels) this week.

This coming Saturday, July 16. Loon conservation organizations ask for volunteers to count loons on their ponds and report how many there are. The Loon Preservation Committee for New Hampshire info is here. For Vermont, see the Vermont Center for Ecostudies info here. For the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation info is here. For other states, a quick web search for ‘loon census 2022’ should find the info.

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair is coming up August 6-14 in Sunapee. I’ll be there with lots of prints and note cards. Lots of loon images, many more critters, landscapes and some of my steam locomotive photos. Stop by and say hello.

Thursday morning, I headed east. Our loon family had a quiet morning.

The loons were joined on the pond by a few spotted sandpipers.
It was a beautiful summer morning, with calm, flat water. Our family took slow swim around one of the coves on the pond.
Breakfast was catfish and crayfish.
One of our chicks settled in to nap with dad.
Mom took some time to preen and ended with a big stretch.
One of our chicks stretched as well.
After dad woke, he herded the chicks into shallow water. The chicks can’t really dive yet, but they can reach down and forage. Dad seemed to be watching as the chicks learned to find food. At least one was successful, coming up with an insect larva.

Saturday took me to the pond on the west end of my range. The two chicks there were two weeks old this weekend and seem to be doing well. This pond has had at least one intruder most every day I’ve visited. The morning started off quietly, with the parents foraging for the chicks. Just as the sun was clearing the hills, an intruder flew in.

Our intruder arrives on the pond, the sun is just coming up, only his tail is lit.
One of the resident loons heading out to deal with the intruder.
The intruder was dispatched without much of a fuss.
One of the home team stretching after the intruder departed.

Sunday found me back on the east end. The morning started out foggy, with our family lazily foraging, snoozing and slowly swimming around one of the coves on the pond.

An early morning stretch in the fog.
Mom took the chicks in tow and patrolled around her cove.
Dad went off to forage on his own a bit.
One of the chicks needed a stretch.
Once again, an intruder arrives. The conservation efforts to help loons have been paying off. Now, the loon population has rebounded to the point where there are many more loons fighting for the same number of territories.
Dad went down the pond to meet the intruder. The intruder briefly did the circle dance with dad before taking a short flight up the pond – towards the chicks.
When the intruder got near the chicks, things got real – Mom got involved. She stashed the chicks in deep shadows in near the shore, with plenty of brush to hide in before heading out to join the fray. Soon, there were loons wing rowing in all directions. I’d long since lost track of who was who. After a time, the intruder took flight and left.
The chicks emerged from the brush, but stayed close to the shadows and shore until Mom came to collect them.
Mom bringing the chicks out to meet Dad in deeper water.
Mom took time to preen and bath a bit while Dad served up more food.
Dad bringing a crayfish back for the chicks.
Done with their chores, everyone settled in for a nap and I headed home.

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