Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rifle River Loons

I am back from a great trip in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (now a wilderness area--yay!) and am still unpacking and nursing some sore muscles. It is hard to put aside all the awesome shots from that trip and go back to the Rifle River, but I have some unfinished business there.

One of the joys of going up north for those of us who live in populous southeast Michigan is seeing loons. We delighted in them at Seney, and were treated to another family on DeVoe Lake.

Above, mom and junior are swimming together. You can see on mom's face, right around her bill, that she is starting to molt--non-breeding plumage in waterfowl is called the eclipse phase.

It rained off and on much of the day, but it had a nice effect, on the water if not on my camera equipment. Here mom's showing off her plumage and shaking off water.

At one point junior popped up fairly close off the front of my kayak and I got a few shots off before he dove again.

Dad was hanging around for a while when we first got to the lake, but he soon took off. Junior took a few flying lessons, running across the surface of the water and flying a hundred feet or so before crashing back into the water (of course I never managed to catch this). Maybe an hour after we saw dad leave a loon, perhaps dad, flew over the lake, calling. Not too long after that junior took off and flew out of sight. We followed mom to the other side of the lake, expecting to see her babe, but he was nowhere. We wondered if this was his first flight out of the lake!

She'd call out a few times (notice her expanded neck) and look around, then proceed to do a little preening.

She'd roll onto her back and clean her belly--look at the size of that foot! Helps her to swim a hundred feet deep and maneuver well enough to catch fish on the fly, so to speak.

Here's a nice wing stretch. She did not leave this area the rest of the time we watched her, and did not dive. Every few minutes she'd call out, but we heard nothing in return.

The following day junior was back with mom, on an August day that looked more like November. Soon they'll be heading for warmer waters to wait out the winter, and I hope to return to the Rifle River too next spring to see the next generation.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, the little baby junior loon is SOOOO cute. Great shots Marie.