Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017 - Introducing Tardy

Many to thanks to all our loon followers who kept me updated on the nest while we were visiting family in Colorado last week.  The good news is that our nesting pair had a successful hatching on August first!
The first known photo of our new loon, one day old.   Photo by Annie Crane
After nesting almost a month later than usual, it was a typical incubation period of 27 days (28 days is the average).  Due to the late appearance this year, one of our loon watchers has named our newest lake member "Tardy".
Introducing Tardy, the newest resident of Lake Wicwas
As expected at this late date there was only one egg.  A biologist from the Loon Preservation Committee went to inspect the nest and collect egg fragments for analysis, and no sign of a second egg was evident.  And from the current situation on the lake it appears that the parents are going to have a hard enough time raising just a single chick.  I had reports of six loons having recently arrived on the lake, and that is in addition to the single rogue loon that has been on the lake for three years now.  (It's only an assumption that it's the same loon, but it occupies the same area and has had the same behaviors each year.  This is also the loon that I think killed both of the loon chicks in 2015.)

This morning on the lake I spotted the six loons swimming together in the vicinity of Bryant Island.
Six visiting loons
As they approached the island from the center of the lake, a seventh loon appeared from behind the island.
Here comes another
This seventh loon shepherded them back towards the east, away from the island, occasionally vocalizing, and displaying a little wing rowing.  It's a pretty good assumption that this was one of the nesting pair, probably the more aggressive male, keeping them away from the chick.
"Move along folks"
Shayne and Keith Duggan, loon watchers from the north end of the lake, saw a more dramatic chasing of rogue loons away from the chick earlier in the week. They took a great video showing the encounter. They said the chick was left completely alone, bobbing defenselessly in the water as both adults went to fend off the intruders. After a successful defense, one parent swam quickly back to the chick, while the other remained on sentry duty. It's a two minute video and you can watch it by clicking here.  (Thank you for sharing Shayne and Keith!)

Like any parents with a new born, I expect they are going to have their hands full raising just one chick, and will be exhausted every day. They will need a lot of energy just for themselves, let alone needing to catch enough fish for the hungry little one to grow sufficiently strong to fly away in a few short months.

Shortly after the encounter with the six visiting loons I saw (I'm guessing) the female fishing with Tardy as I rounded Bryant Island.
Mom with Tardy
I watched from a long distance away as she made many dives, only rarely coming up with something for Tardy.
"Eat your salad with your protein"
As I watched, the other parent popped up beside me and swam in to join the family, apparently satisfied he had rejected the intruders, and the family fished together off a beach.
Dad returns from battle
As one adult stretched its wings, the size perspective of the tiny chick was evident.

And it didn't take long for Tardy to play copy-cat.
"Look, me too!"
They fished together quietly off the beach;  hopefully they will have some peace for a while.  It is going to be a difficult summer for this new family.

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