Sunday, June 24, 2012 9:37pm CDT

65 degrees F     Clear   Wind Calm 
Sunrise  5:25am     Sunset 9:05pm 
The sky is awash with a palette of pinks and golds and purples as twilight has come to the North Woods.
All of it is reflected in a now quiet lake.
The boats and jet skis and canoes and kayaks and sailboats and fishermen and waterskiiers have gone home.  The busyness of today has now settled into silence.
All that is left is the reflection, ripples across the surface of the lake and the call of loons.
Ahhhhhh!  Summer in Minnesota.
But first, the important questions.  The ones you are wondering about.
Our little loon is healthy, active, growing and doing well.
Today is his 3 week birthday.
It was shortly after 9am on that Sunday morning 3 weeks ago that we got our first glimpse of that little ball of black down that knew exactly how to steal our hearts.  There was no doubt who was in charge and was the center of attention on that nest once he arrived.
And so it has been ever since.
At times that seems like an eternity ago and in other ways it was like it was this morning.
For some unexplainable reason, he was determined to return to the nest over and over to give his adoring public just one more glimpse of him.
And he continues to do so!
He has been up on the nest at least twice today that I know of.  Including just a few hours ago.
This evening, while the loons and the chick were off on another part of the lake, I took advantage of the opportunity to move the nest in even a little closer to shore.  This is the fourth move I have made.  It is now no more than 15 feet from the edge of the lake.  But that did not stop our loon chick from getting up on the nest one more time tonight.
Right now he is somewhere out on the lake with the adults.  I did not see what time he left but he continues to come back to the nest.  The adults do not get up on the nest with him.  He jumps up and sits on the edge of the platform and surveys his kingdom.  Meanwhile, the adults swim patiently nearby until he decides that he has had enough and he jumps back in the water.
I watched him earlier today as he practiced dive after dive.
He has really gotten quite good at it.    In 'junior loon olympics' he would probably rate an 8 or a 9.  He has got that distinctive rolling loon dive down.  Sometimes even with a splashing kick from his big feet for emphasis.
He is able to consistently stay submerged for 10 or 15 seconds and swim 20 or 30 feet underwater.  Quite an accomplishment for a 3 week old kid.  He seems to actually be enjoying showing off.
So whatever it is that keeps drawing him back to the nest and getting out of the water, it definitely has not hindered his form or his abilities in the water.
And the parents seem to be doing better, too.  
None of the strange conflicts that we saw earlier this season.
One  of the adults is always with the chick and much of the time both adults are there and are feeding him endlessly.  When he rears up in the water to flap his little wings just like an adult loon does, you can see him ample white belly.  He is not hurting for lack of food.
His black down from when he was born is now gone.  It has been replaced by a rich chocolate brown down.  But that white tummy is still as white as can be.  And his big black feet are definitely loon feet when shows them by waving them in the air in a loon foot waggle.
We definitely have been limited in how much we can use the lake by his penchant for still coming back to the nest.
But last night I came home sweaty and dirty from working to clear out a beaver dam.  I wanted nothing more than to go for a cool refreshing swim and to wash some of the sweat and grime off.  But guess who had come back to  the nest.
So I waited for a while until the chick got off the nest and swam some distance away.  Finally my chance to go for a refreshing swim.
I had not been in the lake for too many minutes before the loons and the chick came swimming over my direction.  They were not more than 40 or 50 feet away.  I stayed submerged with only my head above water while they calmly floated and preened and watched.  I hoped nobody could hear the 'mews' and the 'hoots' as I talked to them.
After some minutes, the female(?) gave a quiet short tremolo.
I said to her, 'You swim over to me and then you dare tremolo at me?!'
She showed no sign of distress or concern, just that short quiet tremolo.
Almost immediately, the male started swimming toward me.  Straight at me.  Not fast.  Not upset.  Almost more curiosity.  I continued to talk to him as he approached me.
He came to within 10 feet of me and then just sat there 'while we talked'!  Just my head out of the water.  Eyeball to eyeball.
No concern.  No agitation.  No call.  Just sitting watching.  He even rolled over partway and did some preening and did a foot waggle.
It was as if he was saying, 'Yeah, she told me I had to come and check you out.  She said isn't he supposed to be up on shore?  What is he doing out here with us?'
Then the loon dove.
There was still no sign of aggression but a loon diving that close to you is not to be taken lightly.
So I stood up to see if I could see where he was.
There he is.  He was swimming right along the bottom of the lake.  I was standing in about 5 feet of water.  He swam within a foot of my right leg but made no moves toward me.  he seemed to be checking me out both above water and below water.  He surfaced about 20 feet behind me.  Almost immediately he dove again.
This time I tried to see where he was but I could not see him.
Once again he surface about 15 feet on the other side of me.
He sat and looked at me once more.
Then after maybe half a minute he gave two short quiet tremolos.
I said, 'Ok I will go in and leave the lake to you' and I started toward shore.
[He yelled after me,  'Don't be offended.  As a self respecting male loon I have to make them think I chased you away from my chick!  Come back again sometime!']
When I reached shore one of the neighbors said, "Now that is what I call 'Swimming With Loons!".
So tonight you can rest assured that our loons are doing well.
He is now out of danger from most predators except eagles and snapping turtles and fast boats and jet skis.  His odds of survival to reach adulthood and fly south this fall have increased dramatically even over the last week.
And our little chick is not so little anymore and he is thriving.
Comments Or Questions?  LoonCamATyahooDOTcom
Or even if you don't have a comment or a question, if you leave your name and email address I will be sure to try to let you know when the LoonCam is ready to go live next spring.
Copyright 2012   Larry Backlund