Thursday, April 12, 2018

Loons on the Lake

Every spring, migrating loons stop at the local lake on their way home to northern Wisconsin. Some years they stay only a day or two; this year they've lingered longer - in no hurry, I imagine, to face the very cold temperatures and generous snow that early April brought.

The common loon, during breeding season, is a handsome black-and-white bird, with plumage gorgeously speckled and striped:


According to whatBird, a group of loons can be called an "asylum", "cry", "loomery", "raft", or "water dance". I haven't seen any dancing loons, but I've heard their haunting cry echo across the lake. The sound is particularly eerie on a foggy evening or morning.


Loons can dive both deep and long; while taking these photos, I saw many a loon disappear smoothly underwater, often to resurface a full minute or more later, many tens of yards away. (Some traveled so far under water that I didn't see them resurface at all.)


Any day now the loons will disappear - not underwater, but into the air - to finish their long flight north. I'm glad to have seen them during their brief stay.

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Along with loons on the lake, we've got assorted odd ducks:

Red-breasted merganser (I think)

Northern Shoveler

After wading through (ha! water bird pun) dozens of blurry photos to get a few acceptable shots for this post, I've realized why I like to photograph wildflowers. Birds get nervous at my approach, and tend to swim or fly away; wildflowers are breezily uncaring and sit happily still while I shoot. Birds are usually sitting on high wires, at the tops of trees, or floating on the other side of a lake, making my little camera stretch out its neck to extreme zoom mode; wildflowers grow at the edge of the road, where I and the camera can get right in amongst them.

The time for wildflowers has not yet arrived; but the northward passage of these migrating birds is a herald of the blossoms to come.

Do any interesting birds migrate to or from where you live?

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P.S. The I-cord series will resume in a few days. I could hear you wondering. :)

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12 comments:

  1. We've got Canadian Geese right now, they stay longer every year

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    1. That's interesting. I wonder what makes them stay more in one place than another? We have a lot of them here too; it's always exciting when they come back in the spring. I love seeing the little babies after they hatch.

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  2. *LOVE* that you had loons and that you captured some really great shots of them. They always remind me of a favorite movie "On Golden Pond". We also have Tundra Swans that Winter over at a lake not far from us. And we had some Rufous Hummingbirds that stayed here surviving on our feeder nectar all winter. And we also attract a lot of Goldfinches at our Thistle socks. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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    1. Ooh, Tundra swans are so amazing! I think the biggest water bird we see around here is probably the Great White Heron. We're lucky to have goldfinches every year, and yes, they do like thistle. :) I'll have to ask a hummingbird-feeding friend whether she gets Rufous hummingbirds.

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  3. I love the loons. I can't wait to have the fly catcher back in our orchard. He has returned to our orchard every May for years. :-) Have a good spring! Regula

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    1. I think we have flycatchers here too, but I'm not sure what they look like. Shall have to research them!
      Happy spring to you too. :)

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  4. I've heard a loon on Tv once, and it was wild. They are pretty birds. We have ducks in KY. In the Fall we heard them quack their way further South, and now that Spring is finally getting here, I can hear them quack their way back as they head northward. They always make me smile. We do have ducks that live here, too...and they are brazen. They like to hang out in the shopping area for free food and they will stand their ground against any car that comes their way, too funny. I like seeing them because they remind me that to everything there is a season...and they are cute, too. Hope you get to take snaps of those wildflowers soon. I so love seeing them. Thank you for all the awesome photos and adventures you always share with us sweet friend. ((hugs))

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    1. Most of the ducks I see are mallards, so when I caught these other species with the camera I had to look them up to find out what they were. Ducks are cute, aren't they? They have such a humorous expression. :)

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  5. OH LOONS!!!!! We saw a bluebird at the barn pasture this week!

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  6. The sound of loons is eerie! I have heard them, and I love them. We have loads and loads of interesting and unusual birds--migrating and not. I don't really try to take pictures of them either, for just the reasons you mentioned. Also, I get these incredible photos on a GA wildlife page I follow and it puts anything I might do to SHAME. So, I just try to spy live birds and identify them if I can.

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  7. Love your loon and merganser photos. We had a flock of pine siskins and a few common goldfinches descend on our feeders after not seeing either of these for several months. We also had a Cooper's hawk perch on the pole holding the feeders. The hawk was liking trying to dine on the migrants rather than being a migrant himself.

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  8. What lovely looking birds those Loons are.

    The only migrants we get here in Spring/Summer are Swallows, Swifts and Martins but in Winter we get a lot of others but small birds like Redwing and Fieldfare. There are more, of course, but these are generally what I see.

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