Saturday, August 8, 2009

Seney NWR Part 2--The Loons

As we hiked the nature trail and were treated to great views of the osprey, we could hear loons calling. I was pretty sure the sound was coming from somewhere near the nature center and the nature drive, so when we finished the hiking loop we walked down the road a bit to see if we could spot some loons. At first all we saw were Canada geese, which I have nothing against except we have them all over the place here (doesn't everyone). Finally Lori spotted what appeared to be a parent with a chick way on the far side of the pond. We had really wanted to get some loon photos, so Lisa volunteered to go back to the RV to get our bike so I could ride out to where the loons were with my camera. What a sight that must have been, me on a bike with my huge tripod with camera and telephoto lens attached wobbling down the road! I wasn't sure how I was going to stop and get off the bike. But as I came up to a curve in the road I noticed a car had stopped. This was much closer than the place I was headed for, and I hoped they were watching a different pair of loons.

I rounded the corner and was thrilled to see an adult and juvenile in the little cove. I managed to get off the bike without skinning my knees or smashing my equipment, and I threw the tripod up and started shooting. Right away I could see the adult had a tasty morsel and was swimming towards the youngster. Crayfish for lunch!

As the loon swam, it would duck its head under the water, then bring the crayfish up again. I remembered reading Julie Zickafoose's blog where she talked about the wrens bringing back legless daddy longlegs for their babes, and I wonder if this loon wasn't ripping off the large claws of the crayfish, which are clearly missing in this photo.

The eager youngster swam to meet its parent, and the exchange was made. Shortly after this the adult swam away but the chick stayed behind, and I was able to get some nice shots.

A little crayfish indigestion, perhaps?

It was a great opportunity to be able to be so close to these magnificent birds, and I'd never seen a juvenile before so this was a real treat. The Seney refuge is a great place to see all sorts of birds. You may also get lucky and see black bears, (the refuge is loaded with blueberries, which we were munching on as we walked the trail), beaver and moose among others. There's no camping in the refuge but some areas are open for fishing and there are canoe rental places and camping in the area. If you really want to see stuff it's best to get out early and/or stay out late, especially during the hottest months. The loons will begin their southward migration next month, so if you don't have time to make it up this year, take your time and plan a trip for next summer. It will be well worth it!

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