Friday, June 3, 2011 7:08am CDT

70 degrees  Cloudy  Wind 3mph SE
There is a deep rumble from the west.
Our chicks are about to experience their first thunderstorm.
Fortunately, right now it does not look like there will anything severe.  So this should be a gentle way to introduce the chicks to their first rain.
The chicks seem to be doing well.  Both chicks have already been out from under the wing and have been in the water for their early morning swim.  Right now one is sitting on the back of one of the adults and the other is safely and warmly tucked under a wing.
I have been surprised that the loons have remained closer to the nest this year than I have seen in almost any previous year.  That is gratifying to know that they apparently feel very safe around the nest.
The loons continue to be on high alert for any potential dangers.
Last night about 7 pm there was a flurry of tremolos.
As I looked toward the lake to see what was bothering the loons there was a streak of black crossed the sky flying fairly low.  I could not tell for sure what it was before it disappeared behing the trees but it could have been a loon.
Both of our loons continued to call.  And both were on high alert.
Then I saw another loon surface out beyond the swimming raft that you have watched on the webcam.
That sent the male into first a slight penguin dance and then a flying/walking pursuit of the intruder loon.  The female dumped the chicks into the water and swam in the same direction.  The intruder quickly dove underwater.
As the two adults pursued the now invisible intruder, two little chicks huddled together all alone as they bounced on the ripples of the lake.  My heart is in my throat anytime I see the little chicks left swimming alone.  I know how quickly danger can strike.
Everything in me screamed 'one of you get back to the chicks and protect them'!
But for now the danger from an intruder seemed to outweigh all other dangers for our loons.
They continued to pursue the invisible intruder who still had not surfaced.
Finally - and thankfully - the female swam back toward the chicks.  She was riding very low in the water in a defensive position as the male continued to pursue the intruder out into the lake.  By being very low the little loon chicks were able to scramble up on her back.  I could breathe again.  They were now safe.
I never did see the intruder again.  But the male pursued.  Diving.  Surfacing.  Neck craned and head held high as he looked for the intruder.  He swam further and further out into the lake until I finally lost sight of him.
Then a loon came flying very low toward the loon with the chicks.  
He turned and flew directly over the chicks.  He was low enough that I could see he was turning his head and looking directly down at them.  Was this our loon or was it the intruder?
He turned and flew directly over me.  I could see him looking down, as if he was also looking directly at me.
It was not until he had cleared the trees that he began to issue flying tremolos.
The loon with the chicks watched but remained absolutely silent.  You could hear the flying loon turn as he continued to call and flew off into the distance.
Then it was quiet.  Things returned to 'normal' - except there was no male.
After several minutes there was a faint wail from all across the lake.  I could not distinguish it from any other wail but the female obviously recognized it immediately.  She answered with a wail.  I always wonder what the chicks reaction is to such loud calls.  Does it startle them or do they just take it in stride?
There was an immediate wail from across the lake.
After half a dozen such wails and answers, I hear the sound of a loon running on water like he is trying to take off flying.  A loon appears a little ways out from the female and chicks, wings flapping and feet slapping the water.  Then he goes into the characteristic 'skid landing' of a loon and comes to rest some distance from our loon and the chicks.
He begins a major time of preening and splashing in the water.  Obviously it must be our male because the female does not seem to be concerned or upset at all.  But the male is in no hurry to return and he continues the preening and splashing and straightening of feathers.
Finally after 10 minutes or so, he returns and our family is back together.
Peace has been restored.  For now.
Less than an hour later, there are more yodels and tremolos.  And both loons are on high alert with their necks craned.
The male once again heads out into the lake.
I see another pair of loons surface ever so briefly.  And then they wisely dive.  They never call.  I only caught a glimpse of them for only a split second.  But obviously the male had seen them and he was not going to tolerate them anywhere close to his territory.
After he was assured that he had driven them off, he returned to his family.
And once again just as it was getting dark, there were a volley of tremolos and yodels.
In the dark, the confrontations apparently continue.
This is the life of the loons.
Lazily swimming with the chicks and feeding them.
Then suddenly full speed on facing danger!
Things that we seldom are privileged to see.  And to understand.
But for right now, our loons lazily relax and swim as the first raindrops fall.  It is quiet and peaceful.
For now!
Questions or Comments?