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I photographed this pair last month when they were still on a nest. Presumably, at that time they had one or two eggs and since then someone did see them with one youngster. However when we were there recently, there were no babies. A Bald Eagle probably took them. It’s hard work to raise kids.

In the first photo, I thought the bird was sleeping but on closer inspection, you can see the red eye watching me. Both birds were resting in the middle of the lake so I moved on in my kayak, looking at other birds and enjoying the day. I paddled back into a marshy area where I often see Ring-necked Ducks and American Coots and if I’m lucky, I get good views of tiny warblers too. This time I found both Common Loons in the shallow water. I kept my boat as still as possible and they both approached me, diving often and popping up in front or behind me. It was exciting to watch them underwater! They never seemed to come up with food so I don’t know what they were doing except maybe showing off? They did not appear distressed and they did not make any calls. They were very interested in a patch of cattails and I wondered if it was even possible that they had a little one stashed in there, hidden from danger but I never saw any movement in the vegetation. Perhaps they were just enjoying a rare sunny spell.

Most of these images are not cropped, shot with a 200-500 mm lens from my boat.

From our recent camping trip.

Song Sparrows. Yellow-headed Blackbird. Mountain Bluebird with food for a nest full of little ones. Elegant Black Tern. Ring-necked Duck.

I love to watch and listen to the Common Loons when I camp in the Highlands. For me, they represent a certain wildness that is not often present in my daily life. They are exquisitely beautiful birds with haunting calls. If a Bald Eagle approaches a lake with a pair of nesting loons, the birds will call back and forth to each other, as if keeping track of the arch predator, warning each other of the potential danger. Sometimes, it seems they call for fun or to welcome the morning sun or the end of the day. When other loons arrive on the lake, they call back and forth, perhaps in greeting?

I was lucky to see two loons on nests, one visible from a road and the other from my boat. They are sensitive to disturbance so I kept my distance from them.

Loons spend a lot of time preening to maintain their waterproofing and to line up their feathers. Read about that here. The most recent North Central Washington newsletter has articles about banding Common Loons in Ferry and Okanogan Counties. You can read that here.

More winter birds hanging around our place. Pine Siskin. American Goldfinch. House Cassin’s Finch. Evening Grosbeak. Red-winged Blackbird. Bald Eagle. And my favorite of this group, White-breasted Nuthatch.

We often see Bald Eagles from our house flying by or perched on trees and snags down below the house or along the river. So when my friend from out of town noticed an eagle perched on a snag in the yard, at eye level from the dining room table, we just thought it was an immature Bald Eagle. We had about a minute to watch and I made a few photos through the not very clean, window with the closest camera I had before it flew. While examining the photos last night, I kept thinking, that is not a Bald Eagle. In fact, it’s a Golden Eagle! Ken saw it perched below the house later yesterday so maybe it’s sticking around. I’ll be watching every eagle more closely now!

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