Saturday, June 7, 2014 9:07 pm CDT

58 degrees F     Clear     Wind 3 mph SSW

What a day!

We have our first chick!

He was first seen at 4:07 pm but obviously had been active and moving around for some hours before that.

As always, he was full of life and precocious.

And cute as could be!

And then about 8:45 as both parents called to him from the water, he made the BIG jump into the huge and dangerous lake.

But he took to the water like a pro.  And immediately began swimming as if he had been training for the Olympics for months.

He swam with both mom and dad.

But then dad got back up on the nest to sit on the second egg and left the chick with mom in the water.

She swam around with him and caught a minnow and fed it to the chick.

But then inexplicably, she swam far out in the lake.  I watched thinking she would immediately come back with a little minnow for the chick.  But she didn't.  She kept going.  Further and further out.

And our little chick swam all alone well away from the nest.

My heart was in my throat expecting at any moment to see a big swirl and see the chick disappear into the mouth of a largemouth bass or a northern!

Realizing he was alone, the little chick started calling.

The male began calling to him from the nest and he swam back towards the nest.  With the potential of large fish or turtles under every square inch.

Would he make it?

But when he got to the nest, he still was not out of danger.

Mom was far out in the lake preening and swimming.

And that jump that had been so big when he went IN the lake, was now even bigger when he tried to get out of the lake and back on the nest.

The vulnerable little chick swam around the nest.  A nest that often shelters big fish underneath it!

His cries became more frantic as he swam and swam all around the nest.  He tried to get up many times.  But he couldn't.  It was too big and he was too small.

The male on the nest picked up the frantic calls and started to call back to the chick over and over.  First hoots, then wails, then a tremolo or two.  And finally three yodels from on the nest.

But the calls didn't help the chick.

He kept trying to get up and could not.

He swam and swam and cried and cried.

He would go around the nest almost to the point where I had put the chick ramp.  Then turn around and go the other way.  And try to get up.  And fail.  And swim some more.  Then almost make it to the chick ramp from the other direction but give up just before he got there.

Let me tell you, it was HARD to watch.

I waited for that big swirl of water into which the chick would disappear forever.  

It was heartbreaking to hear the cries.

Everything in me said run out there and rescue him.

With the binoculars, I could not even see the chick ramp any more.

Had it once again been torn loose by storms?

The chick's cries and the male's calls filled the air and filled the computer speakers.

Finally he made it around to where the ramp is supposed to be.  But in the shadows I could no longer see him.

But then all of a sudden THERE he was!

UP on the nest!

He had made it!

He had survived his first big adventure and his introduction to this big world.

He made his way back to dad and right now he is safely tucked under a wing

I think I need to go get some heart medicine!

(I hope someone was able to catch all that on video!)

Copyright   2014   Larry R Backlund