Observing the Loons

I didn’t take my camera today when we went out for a 45 minute boat ride on Great East Lake in New Hampshire.  Of course that meant I’d see more loons today than ever before.  First I saw three loons together.  Probably it was a parent and two almost grown chicks. 

Shortly after that, we saw a solo loon.  He was busy preening and didn’t pay any attention to us as we cut the motor and let the boat drift towards him.  He would splash with his wings, then tuck feathers here and there with his beak, then rise up out of the water to flap his wings.  This last move showed off the handsome white belly.  This was repeated about three times.  Several times, he rolled over on his side to raise one leg out of the water and tend the feathers along that side.  Again, when he did this, we could see the white stomach feathers.  A video camera would have been best for this scene.

Fifteen minutes further along we saw a number of black heads bobbing ahead.  The threatening clouds overhead turned the water a slate gray.  As we drifted closer, it amazed us to count ten loons swimming together.  I think it’s too early for them to be gathering to head out to sea for the winter.  I just never saw more than two or three loons together in the three years that I’ve been coming to Great East Lake.

watercolor of a loon
watercolor of a loon

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