Photographing Common Loons in the Adirondacks

*Click on photos to enlarge.*

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~A nice look at a Common Loon after reemerging from the water. Follensby Clear Pond, Santa Clara NY 6/13/15.~

One of my main goals for my weekend trip to the Adirondacks was to photograph the Common Loons. A couple years ago, Tricia and I kayaked one of the “Fish Creek Loops” in Santa Clara, New York, which included kayaking five ponds with four carries between ponds. We had great luck with Common Loons on that day, particularly in one pond in particular, Follensby Clear Pond. This year I went on my own while Tricia was having a “Ladies Weekend” here at the house. I planned my paddling around the good light; Saturday morning was forecasted to be a little cloudy, so I planned to try in the late evening when skies were forecasted to be clear.

As I put in and head out, I was immediately a little bit worried. The water was very choppy, with waves lapping over the front of my kayak as I made my way out. I had seen a single Common Loon from the shore and I headed in its direction. I worked my way around a small island to get the sun at my back, but when I got to where I thought the loon should be, the loon was not to be found. I eventually located the bird, but it kept its distance. I tried for some distant photos, but it was so wavy that I could barely keep the focus point of my camera on the bird. This was discouraging, but the pond is very large, so I figured I would just paddle the perimeter and see what I could find.

In the northwest section of the pond, I saw two more Common Loons. I paddled far and wide around the birds to get the sun at my back. The water was much calmer here, and I stopped paddling and just floated, my kayak drifting slowly towards the birds, which were eventually joined by two more loons. At first the foursome seemed wary of my presence and kept their distance. But as I sat basically motionless, they appeared to get used to my presence and maybe even become curious. Before I knew it, the birds were surfacing from dives less than 15 feet from my kayak! This was just like that first paddle a couple years earlier (when a loon surfaced right next to my kayak within moments of being in the water!). It is difficult to describe what an incredible and almost magical experience it is to see these birds up close like that; diving and interacting with one another. I enjoyed this for a good while, gently back-paddling every once in a while to keep the sun at my back. I love loons; it’s hard to convey what a blast this was!

Next post…birding in the Adirondacks – Bloomingdale Bog, Bigelow Road, and Whiteface Mountain.

~A Common Loons stretches its wings at Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
~A Common Loons stretches its wings at Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~A COLO takes a break from looking underwater for prey. Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~A pair of Common Loons cruise by my kayak, Follensby Clear Pond 6/13/15.~
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~I thought this was a little bit of a different look at a COLO. Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~COLOs at Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~Stretching COLO, Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~COLO close-up. Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~COLO at Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~The fabulous four Common Loons huddle up. Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~COLO at Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~
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~COLOs at Follensby Clear Pond, 6/13/15.~

 

16 thoughts on “Photographing Common Loons in the Adirondacks”

  1. OUTSTANDING! Each photo uniquely beautiful.

    I’m with you – – – -I too love Loons. I remember being put up in a mansion on a lake when I was in Nova Scotia and the Loons seemed to call all night long – – – – – – – – the true sound of the North.

    Congrats, again, Matt. Stunning work; much appreciated and enjoyed.

    1. Thanks Ken. I would love to live somewhere where Common Loons breed, it would amazing to see and hear these birds all summer long. Matt

  2. Ditto to what Ken said…I can almost hear the call that the one with the tilted head was going to let out. Can’t pick a fave, they’re all so lovely. What a wonderful experience for you (and thanks to your photos, almost as nice for your audience).

  3. Fabulous photographs, Matt. These have got to be some of your very best shots. There are several that would be gorgeous in a frame and on the wall. Glad you had a wonderful trip.

  4. When I was a kid going to summer camp up in Maine (way before I was into birding) I remember hearing and then seeing these fabulous birds! I have loved them ever since! Wonderful photos Matt! I so appreciate your work!
    Scotty

  5. Great shots . I spent most of my time fishing for Follensby Pike, but the Loons we always there. I love watching them. On the main lake I would sit on the dock and watch the sun set while Loons and a bever would swim back and forth in front of me.
    Life is good!

    Dick

  6. What a great job, Matt
    Loons are one of my favorites and I just love to hear them call at night. I have only been to hear it once, but it is unforgettable.
    Wilma

    1. Thanks so much Wilma. I love their call too – I’ve had some nice evenings at Glenmere Lake during migration when they would call, what a great experience. Matt

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