Skip to main content

Nettie Lake's loons

This is part of the viewscape from the cabin where I'm staying, at NettieBay Lodge. That tiny island in Lake Nettie - the house hasn't been used for some time - is smack in the midst of a large, beautiful glacial kettle lake. Most of our forays take us much further afield, but when in residence at the lodge there is plenty to see. Wilson's Snipe nest along the north end, and can be heard delivering their aerial coutship winnowing. Kingfishers, Spotted Sandpipers, Osprey, Bald Eagle and plenty of others are regular fixtures.

The undisputed avian rulers of Lake Nettie are the Common Loons. Look closely under the conifer on the left side of the island, and you'll see a loon on its nest. A pair has nested in that spot for decades, probably - as long as anyone can remember. It must be a great location, as each year's offspring (loons normally have two) make it to the flighted stage, and eventually migrate from the lake.

The Schulers, masters of NettieBay Lodge, take good care of their loons. If only every lake up here had such admirers. These loons know them by sight, and often approach their boat and swim alongside, fishing in the clear water below. Once the young fledge, the downy chicks will occasionally ride on the back of one of the parents, and it'd be hard to find a safer place to be. No pike or giant Snapping Turtle will get at them then. Sometimes, in a remarkable bird-human example of trust, the adult loons will leave the loonlets alongside the boat and head off to fish, returning to pick up the chicks when dome foraging. The longevity and success rate of this nesting site speaks volumes for the ideal situation that the loons find on Lake Nettie.

This loon followed our boat around like a puppy dog, as we birded the farflung regions of the lake. Once, when the loon pair that lives at the other end of Lake Nettie flew by, the trio got into a yodeling war. If you've not heard loons war-whooping it up, you've been missing out on one of the great sounds of Nature.

Our loon "snorkels". Oftentimes, when actively fishing, a loon will stick its face under the surface to check on the piscine prey below. When a tasty fish is spotted, down goes the loon, and you wouldn't want to be that fish.

Thanks to the Schulers for providing safe haven for these loons. Although when they wake me at 3 am with their raucous yodeling, I might temporarily feel a bit differently :-)


Kelly said…
Wow! Looks so beautiful...what a neat place!
Jack and Brenda said…
Aren't they beauties. We were backpacking on Isle Royale on Lake Superior a few years ago and listening to the loons from our tent was something I'll always remember.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…