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.
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.
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/
With the beautiful weather we had last week, I was out morning and evening every day checking in on all three loon families along with their neighbors. The Forest Service road to the Easton’s pond is now passible so I finally got up to check on them.
A raft of new subscribers joined us this last week. If you found me from the Paradise City show, thanks for stopping by. For the new visitors, to protect the loon families, I don’t publish their location on the web. Not everyone on the web has wildlife’s best interests at heart. The three families I follow are the ‘Eastons,’ on the easternmost pond I frequent, the ‘Westons’ are on the westernmost and the ‘Middletons’ are in the middle.
The first visit to the Eastons was last Tuesday evening. There was a strong wind kicking up the occasional whitecap. On my first lap around the pond, I didn’t spot any loons and last year’s nesting site was untouched. After time, one adult loon appeared, foraging lazily. The chop was too much for photos and the black flies had decided I was the buffet, so I called an early quit and headed home.
Wednesday morning, I headed out to see the Westons.
Wednesday evening, I dropped in on the Middletons. It was well into the 90s. In previous years, the nest was fairly exposed to the afternoon sun and the loon with afternoon nest duty often sat in full sun for a couple hours. I headed over to check on the nest. On my way, the resident osprey took a fish from just a few yards in front of me. Of course, I didn’t see him until he was just a few feet above the water, I had to watch instead of taking photos.
Thursday morning I headed back to visit the Eastons, hoping both had returned. There was no wind, it was a perfect morning just to be out on the water, even better for photos. As I headed down the pond, I quickly spotted a loon sitting on the bank a couple hundred feet from the previous nesting site. Studies of banded loons suggest that if they are successful in hatching chicks in a nesting site, they’ll reuse the site. The literature says the male picks the site, I hoped our male had returned (I want all my critters to live long happy lives before retiring to Boca Raton.) The male on the pond the last few years was banded, I wanted to get a look at their legs.
Friday morning, I packed up the Loon Preservation Committee’s nesting sign and headed back to the Eastons.
The weather kept me from visiting the loons for several days. I was out to see the Middletons last Thursday, May 18. I didn’t get back until last evening. And I had a chance to visit the Westons this morning. Let’s see how they’re doing.
I’ll be at the Paradise City Art Show in Northampton, MA this coming weekend. Stop by and say hello. I’ll have lots of prints, from small to large, and note cards with lots of critters. All the show details here.
Last Thursday was another chilly morning, with a little bit of fog on the water.
I returned yesterday evening, much to the delight of the black flies.
This morning I headed off to check in on the Westons. It became a beautiful morning after a chilly 38° start, with lots of nice fog on the water. The last few years, the Westons have been about a week behind the Middletons in mating and nesting. They must have a new calendar this year.
This handsome fellow was out celebrating World Turtle Day today. As good a reason to go wild as any!
It will be next week before I get a chance to get back to check on them. I’ll let you know what I find. Enjoy the holiday weekend and please remember the U.S. military personnel who gave their lives to protect us
There’s news from the Middletons. The Westons didn’t show any signs of getting on with chicks when I visited. They’re usually about a week behind the Middletons, so that’s not surprising. While I’ve been out every morning and couple afternoons, I fell behind on editing. Finally catching up, here’s a very long post.
A note on photography since we’ve started nesting season. Please respect the loons and give them their space if you photograph them. For these photos, I was working with a 600mm or 800mm lens on a crop body. That’s something like a 24X or 26X scope. To get all of a loon in the frame, I’ve got to be something like 110 feet from the loon and further back to get some of the surroundings. That’s far enough back that the loons pretty much ignore me. And, a good distance for you to maintain..
Winter wasn’t quite ready to go away when I visited the Middletons last Saturday. It was a pleasant 34° when I launched. I found the loons in the cove where they used to nest.
Tuesday morning found me with some work to do before heading out. Up at 0330 and with it only 30° on the pond, I once again found myself questioning some of my life choices. This time, I was early enough.
Wednesday I went to check on the Westons. Conditions for photography were ideal, every photographer dreams of paddling on a 28° foggy morning.
Friday morning found the Middletons once again facing off with an intruder.