Lake Trip- Looking for Loons
We live on the dry side of the state. You know, sagebrush and ponderosa pines, wildfires and scorching July sun. So how do I explain the profusion of lakes we got to visit last week, clustered together in the Okanogan Highlands? I don’t (explain that is), I just enjoy them. We traveled to a series of lakes near Tonasket hoping to see loon babies riding the backs of the adults. We arrived a few days too late to get that image, but I’m not complaining about the ones we did get.
Photographing loons from the shore is a largely hopeless exercise. The rarity with which loons decide to paddle close to wherever one stands means that one will get very old before getting a presentable picture. Happily, we go after the loons in kayaks, even though, with my kayaking skill, that means risking dousing the camera in water should I lurch wrong.
Many waterfowl better tolerate a boat approaching than they would a land-based person by the water’s edge. A good example was the nesting red-necked grebe we saw. It was invisible from shore, and only careful placement of the kayak allowed a photo at all.
They are attractive birds with that wedge-shaped head of grebes that I find captivating.
Paddling around the shore allows us to get closer to other birds’ nests as well. Eastern kingbirds often nest on branches over water. They do vigorously discuss our presence with each other if we get near their nests.
Killdeer shouldn’t be hard to photograph at all, since they often want to attract our attention away from nests, but it’s been years since I got a shot at one that wasn’t just its backside. My kayak floated a foot from dry ground when I got this shot.
And what would a lake expedition be without a mallard chick,
or the ubiquitous spotted sandpiper?
And I’ll end with the lament of the loon. A mother (?) loon calling plaintively for a missing chick that dove and failed to surface. Happily, Janet saw them reunited minutes later. Thanks for reading.