Early in the morning, this little guy greeted me off the dock. I have since seen him a few times at dawn, and this past week-end my dog Mia sniffed something under the dock, so perhaps the Otters spend time eating their meals on the concrete rubble that was once our original dock:
Perfect conditions allowed me to venture out on the lake again with my camera gear in the kayak for the second time this season, over six weeks later. It was a week day which meant less boat traffic, the lake was smooth as glass, and the lighting was perfect, so off I went
after smuggling my camera gear into the kayak without Robert knowing, shhhhhh for a quiet paddle.
The next few hours were outstanding, as there's never any guarantee of birds in this hobby, but my first Common Loon of the day was found ten minutes into my paddle:
I continued on to where the Loon family had been seen last time in the kayak and was disappointed to see only one of the parents (what a spoiled brat am I, should I not have been pleased to see even one???). There was no sign of the mother or chick, so you take what you get, right?
The next half hour was spent positioning myself with the sun behind me, the kayak pointed forward so I could properly steady my camera, and the Loon directly in front of me, while always keeping a safe distance from him, even though at times he'd dive under and then come up alongside my boat to check me out. It was great fun, my silent back-paddling skills have also since improved, as the kayak would gradually turn around. Oh, and of course there's the small detail that the Loon swims and dabbles all over the place!
So here goes with what I saw, as he primped and preened...
...then checked me out, did he think I was just another large red bird sitting out on the lake with him?
...calling out at me, even though he was the one who swam into me!
...doing a wing stretch:
...then back to more preening:
...then swimming up close to me again as the sound of my camera shutter drew him in:
...then it was time for that amusing foot stretch they like to do:
Suddenly I heard a plaintive call of another Loon from across the lake, dare I venture across to see if it's the mother with the chick? You betcha, so off I went, as perhaps a fishing boat that I saw off in the distance had prompted her to call out...
I paddled across the lake and this is what greeted me, I was blown away by how much the Loon chick had grown in six weeks:
Here's what it looked like the last time I'd seen it from my kayak, sticking pretty close to mom, unable to dive...
...but look at it now, as mom brings in breakfast for it:
Mom puts on a show when the chick would disappear and dive under water:
The chick's eye is redder now, with distinctive markings now visible on its feathers, if you double-click on this photo to see more detail:
Suddenly the father that I'd spent time with earlier flew in to join up with the family, here's how he was greeted, I was hard-pressed to not tip the kayak over with excitement!
After minimal reaction from mom, dad checked me out again, as I strived to keep my distance from all three of them, while keeping the sun behind me, and my camera dry:
The chick honed up its diving skills, and at times I sensed that mom was a tad frustrated when she was unable to determine in advance where the chick would re-appear:
They eventually set off together, and I decided it was also time for me to leave them to their morning routine, having already taken about eight hundred photos:
I safely paddled back to the cottage after another thrilling few hours on the seas with the Loons, knowing full well that it may have been my last time for the season with them on the water, as fall migration is now well under way.
Could my day get any better?
...and the same sunset a short while later: