...is worth more than two in the bush, as I was reminded yesterday when my plans to explore a new forest in the Haliburton area were hastily revised when I saw this female Common Loon with two chicks on her back!!!
As a volunteer participant in the 2014 Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, I had already been monitoring suitable nesting habitat on my side of the lake for Common Loons and knew it was time for any young ones to first appear. Regardless, I was still ridiculously thrilled by the cuteness of this first pair for the season, so immediately revised my plans for the day and instead remained on my lake for more Loon surveying.
Please note that the majority of these Loon photos are cropped as in most cases there was a distance factor. There was no sign of the father so the mother was dealing with her chicks on her own, one of them on her back had its bill open:
I continued on my way, stopping in at another possible nesting site where a single Loon was seen and I wondered if perhaps he had a mate that was already occupied with babies elsewhere??? Time would tell.
Of course I couldn't ignore the local Osprey:
But I couldn't resist those downy gray fuzzballs I'd seen earlier, and after all, it was on the way to my next stop, so why not return, perhaps I'd even see the father? Sure enough, not only were both parents now present, but they had also moved in close to the shoreline, we were all equally surprised:
Hitching a ride again:
The father tried in vain to interest the chicks in a snack by softly cooing at them to get their attention, it broke my heart!!
A beautiful family that will now be monitored for Bird Studies Canada in the weeks to come:
My next few stops yielded no Loon sightings but those locations will continue to be monitored as there's good potential.
While looking through my scope at an Osprey nest, this Belted Kingfisher buzzed the waters:
A female Merlin
that later gave me identification grief, grrrr, was doing her own survey of the neighbourhood:
A handsome Red-winged Blackbird was a stark contrast to the greenery:
Another new section of the lake that I investigated didn't appear to have the right habitat for nests, but a single snoozing Loon was seen off a private dock that the kind owners gave me permission to access, allowing me eye level views of it:
Loons are almost always intrigued by the camera shutter, so eventually it took a closer look at the source of the clicks:
I returned to the cottage for the evening and was greeted by four adult Loons in the middle of the lake, bringing my tally for the day to ten!
The pairs eventually split off into two, with one doing assorted stretches:
I've always loved their leg stretches and shakes!
Today was dreary and dismal, but during a break in the showers I returned to the Loon family location and only the mother was there with both fuzzballs who had survived another night:
I felt compelled to revisit the other location where the lone Loon had been yesterday and was ecstatic to see this new family!!
Two more chicks with their parents!!
The male tries to tempt the chick to eat with his cooing sounds that softly echoed across the marsh:
The chick showed no interest in eating, despite several attempts by the parent:
My Bird Studies Canada fact sheets indicate these chicks are less than three weeks old, based on their size, dark gray down, and riding on the parents' backs:
On my way back to the cottage at the first location I found both parents together again with the chicks, but in choppier waters:
It's hard to see but one chick is already riding on a parent's back, so the other chick decides to do the same on the other parent!
As the weather began to deteriorate, I went from one extreme to the other re the "cuteness" factor, ending my morning with a not-so-cute perched Turkey Vulture...
...followed by a juvenile American Crow on the same road that I almost ran over, having to actually get out of my vehicle to move it to safety:
So indeed it's going to be an interesting and exciting time for Common Loons this year on the lake as I follow their progress, and perhaps even learn of more families!