A Long Time Coming - Common Loons

I have many fond memories from when I was young of camping with my parents and brothers, and fishing the mountain lakes in the interior of British Columbia. Each lake would typically have a pair or more of common loons. These birds are unusually pretty and are covered with a detailed pattern of mostly black and white, but their bright red eyes are even prettier yet. In addition to seeing their beauty, the male loon's territorial tremolo call echoing through the mountains simply must be heard in nature for its' complete wonder and mystery to be experienced and appreciated in full.

Since I became interested in photography, I've wanted to get back to these lakes to photograph these birds that I have such fond memories of. This past week my family visited my home at the perfect time of year to see these loons. My dad and I choose a morning with a favorable weather forecast of clear skies and little wind and set our alarms for 3:15am. Yikes, that's early! We woke to see the east sky already getting light, it's definitely nearing the summer solstice already. We arrived at White Lake, a lake with which my dad is very familiar, and put his old Folbot (a brand of two man open kayak) into the calm water about half of an hour after the sun rose. Though we sacrificed to allow as many factors as possible to be in our favor, we saw few birds in the first thirty minutes of exploring this pristine lake's shores.

As we neared the far side of the lake we saw a pair of loons poking their heads under water looking for fish. These birds routinely make short work of trout as large as two pounds. They were wary of our presence, but grew more comfortable while we kept our distance. As time passed and we peeled off bursts of frames when the loons circled into nice morning sunlight, a third loon joined in fishing, and we were able to get a little closer. After about twenty minutes of excitement for dad and I, these loons dipped below the water's surface and wouldn't surface anywhere near us for the rest of the morning, they'd had enough of us. We were never able to get close enough for me to fill the frame with my 400mm lens with the birds, so I was forced to do some heavy cropping again, as I described in the last post featuring the auklets. I would have loved to have had Canon's 600mm lens on this morning, but I am still pleased with the images I was able to get, and enjoyed a beautiful morning chasing these magnificent birds with my dad.