63 degrees F Partly Cloudy Wind Calm
Sunrise 5:26 am CDT Sunset 8:59 pm CDT
Today has once again been a beautiful day here.
Lots of sunshine. Light winds. Low humidity. The days that Minnesota Winter Dreams are about.
And for our loons it has been a good day. With a few challenges.
But the important thing is that our chicks today were still doing well and growing. When i got home from a meeting I could not spot them anywhere but I have to assume that they are still ok.
Shortly after the loons and chicks made a swim by of the nest (which excited everyone watching), the loons were swimming close together, one chick on each parent's back. They were perfectly reflected in the mirror surface of the lake.
It was one of those perfect images that is etched in the mind forever.
But just a couple hours later, things changed!
Wails and tremolos and yodels.
When I went to see what was going on, two loons were in a face off. A tense face off. The other loon of our pair was a distance away with the chicks.
But soon he left the chicks almost flying across the water toward the other two loons!
The intruder loon was back! There were full penguin dances. Calling. Aggressive diving. Circling each other. Splashing. More penguin dances.
As if that were not enough, at exactly the time of that confrontation, a mature bald eagle flew low right over the chicks. He did not swoop down on them thankfully. They were sitting ducks sitting there all alone. Or should I say sitting loon chicks!
One of the loons seeing this headed for the chicks. Half running. Half flying! Then the other loon realized what happened and did the same thing.
They landed where the chicks had been. But where were the chicks now.
I looked and looked and could not see them! There were now ripples or small waves on the lake and I tried desperately to pick out the chicks.
The two loons called and looked and peered under water and called and looked. Then they started a number of excited dives. I still could not see the chicks. In all the excitement of an intruder loon AND an eagle, had another predator taken them.
The loons kept diving excitedly and surfacing and calling.
It seemed like this went on for an eternity. But it was probably only a minute or two that they kept diving excitedly.
But I watched with increasing concern, unable to spot the chicks!
Had something taken them? Had something pulled them under water in those few moments? Were they just hidden by the little waves? Was this real or a product of my concern or overactive imagination?
But then THERE was one chick. The adults immediately went to it. And then there was the second chick.
WHERE did they come from?
Obviously the adults were as concerned or more concerned than me. So it could not have been that they were there all along.
I have no explanation of what just happened.
But I am happy that the chicks are well!
Late this afternoon, both loons and chicks were relaxing near the outer buoys.
Much further out there were two kayakers sitting obviously just watching the loons. I look and kept working. They were being very respectful and causing no concern to the loons.
But about 5 minutes later, I heard the loons calling. I went to see what was upsetting them.
The two kayakers were outside the buoys to the right of the camera, but they were well inside the distance of the outer buoys. They had 'forced' one of the loons with the two chicks way up near shore.
She was calling with great concern.
Whether they had actually paddled in or just floated in, they had come in way too close. They were just sitting watching and enjoying the female loon calling and the little chicks.
But they were totally unaware that the male was right behind them doing repeated penguin dances. VERY upset. The female and chicks were trapped between the kayaks and the shore. I don't think they even realized what stress they were causing for our loons.
I waved at them and motioned for them to move off to the side and leave. If they understood, they took their sweet time doing it.
As they were turning their kayaks, the female took the opportunity to quickly swim with the chicks out to the male.
But unbelievably, just then a speed boat came by!
They slowed down to almost a stop when they saw the loons!
Now the loons were trapped between the kayaks and the speedboat. Fortunately he left right away, but as the kayaks left, they paddled right AT the loons!
There are sometimes for my own mental health I just need to walk away. But it is too hard to do.
I am an avid canoeist.
So I know that sometimes we think we are so much more 'environmentally friendly' than power boats (although I love them too!). But we sometimes have a superiority complex even though we seldom admit it.
It was very disappointing to me when I learned by watching our loons that canoes and kayaks can be much more stressful to loons than most speedboats.
I think it is because we are much slower, we get closer and we are lower to the water than other boats. And so loons see us as much more of a threat.
Did these kayakers mean to upset the loons. I don't think so for a minute.
I think it was just another case of sometimes we love our loons too much!
But other than those things, it was a 'real easy day' for our loons, I thought with tongue in cheek!
I need to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my wonderful neighbors!
Without their interest and support and love of our loons, it would be impossible to do the LoonCam! They limit their own activities to keep from upsetting the loons.
All it would take is one neighbor who did not do that and the LoonCam could not be done.
Copyright 2017 Larry R Backlund