All About Loons

Ahh…the pinnicle of cottage blogging, being able to write and post an update live from the front porch of the cottage. As I write this the sun is shining, and a much appreciated cool summer breeze is rustling the green leaves in the poplar and maple trees surrounding the camp.

I just had a little nap on the swinging chair in our screenroom, listening to the sounds of the lake and the breeze and a lazy midweek summer afternoon.
There isn’t much in the way of boating activity on the lake this afternoon, I suppose because it is mid-week and the weekend folks are all tucked away in their cubicles and offices hamstering away at the next great report for their boss, or enjoying a mid afternoon walk in the downtown, taking in the sights and perhaps stopping for an ice cream at the little sidewalk ice cream concession.

But here, it’s just me and the a merganser duck who is swimming around the cove next to the camp. She, I think it is a female, going by her coloration or lack of it, is quacking every few seconds, just enough that she finally succeeded in waking me from my afternoon slumber, and forced me to get up and look at her. “quack…..quack……quack…..” only stopping long enough to stick her long head and bill beneath the surface of the lake to look for minnows.

There should be some there, we always have lot’s of minnows in the shallow, sandy cove on a bright sunny day like today.

To the other side of me, in the little wood between our place and the neighboring camp, a family of crows are cawing occasionally as a young crow, almost fully grown, is learning to fly and is fluttering around in the trees.

His mother, or father, I am not sure which, is watching him from a nearby spruce tree, while another crow, perhaps an older brother or an uncle is flying around, as if demonstrating the proper procedure for take off and landing.

I am enjoying one of those wonderful afternoon naps where you are asleep but yet somehow aware of sounds, not disturbed by them. Even the steady quack…quack….quack of the merganser duck is almost like the steady sound of a bedside clock ticking away the time as we sleep.

Earlier I had started to work on building a new railing for the deck leading to the wharf, but the heat and perhaps my own summer laziness convinced me that the job could wait, and I decided that the swing chair in the screenroom would be a great place to spend the afternoon.

So I threw down my tools and strolled leisurely towards the screenroom and the comfort of the swing and it’s padded cushions, oh my, what a decadent life I am leading.

It must be about suppertime because the merganser duck has disappeared and in his or her place the loon that seems to live in our cove has appeared. He usually shows up around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, floating around the cove, occasionally diving to get a bite to eat, then coming up again to float for around digesting his supper.

I figure he is a male because he is big and personally, well to be honest, I think he’s a bit lazy….he likes to float around doing nothing, which is not unlike me….I should let him use my rubber swim tube so he can really relax.
Occasionally he rolls over on his side, raises his webbed foot and gives it a shake. According to Cornell University…..that is called a “foot waggle” and he does it purposefully, to cool down in warm weather.

Apparently repeated shaking his foot and dipping it into the water cools the loon off.
picture of a loon
Loons are an interesting bird and that is putting it lightly, they are one of the few that I think are kind of independent and here’s why, Loons like to fish for their own food, minnows, trout, bass, perch etc.
They aren’t much on taking a handout from humans as far as I can tell. Ducks, on the other hand, are often quite interested in a handout, as are crows and many of the smaller birds, who love to see me spread some wild bird seed at the edge of the lawn.
The Loon, also know as “The Common Loon” “Great Northern Loon”, or the Great Northern Diver is different from many other birds in another respect as well, loons have solid bones instead of the hollow bones of other birds, the added weight helps them to dive and stay underwater for several minutes.

Our Loon, as I have been starting to refer to him, has been around here for a long time, or at least I like to think he has.

Apparently loons can live a long time, which means it is entirely possible that this is the same loon in the cove that was here last year, the year before and the year before that….etc etc.

He certainly looks like the same loon…..Scientists tell us that loons don’t necessarily mate for life, but they do mate for a season usually and because they return to the same lakes each year, they often end up with the same partner. Something like me….I come back to the same lake every year and so does Wendy….

I haven’t really given our cove loon a name, I am not particularly wont to do that, but I suppose I have done him one better, because rather than give him any old name, I have given him a “title” which is, “The Loon” as if he is the only loon on earth.

He is after all, king of the cove, master of the waters in front of the camp and I am not about to argue with him.

And to tell the truth, when he shows up here each afternoon it seems to me he is king of the cove.

Have you named your loon?
Update: I stand corrected, apparently Wendy has named The Loon, “Dippy” because, in her words, “he dips in and out of the water” so….there ya go, we do have a name for the king of the cove.

On an entirely different note, no really…entirely different, we had a nice visit from our New Brunswick correspondent tonight, Lonesome Larry dropped over, and for once I think he really is “lonesome” as his lovely bride, Gorgeous Gwen of The Lake isn’t due to arrive at the camp until tomorrow. Then we will see him smiling !!

Loon Picture: Wilkipedia Creative Commons by Cephas

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