Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jack and Lily, Part IV

(Also see: Part I, Part II, and Part III.)

Before I start, I'll just note that I decided to call the chick Emma.  There's no particular story behind the name, and I don't know if the chick is a boy or a girl, but Emma is what stuck.

Anyway, three days after Emma hatched, I hoped to get a couple of pictures of  "the new family next door."  I paddled out around the left side of the Island, nice and slow, near the shore where I wouldn't be in the way or be a threat.

Jack was having none of that.  He popped up ten feet from my kayak and gave his now-famous "Get off my porch" call.  He dove and came up just on the other side of me.  Dive, call.  Dive, call.  Repeat as necessary.  Lily and Emma made for the other side of the cove.

I know when I'm not wanted, but I also know that I'm stubborn.  As reassuringly as I could (and, of course, without knowing what might actually be reassuring to a loon), I paddled back around to the front of the Island.  Jack seemed satisfied; proud of himself, really.

I kept going around the Island, thinking I'd try to catch up with Lily and Emma in the larger part of the cove (again, where I wouldn't be in the way).  I didn't make it far; I heard a splash right behind my stern.  When I looked back, Jack was diving and crisscrossing in my wake.  The yelling started soon thereafter.

Defeated, I headed back to the dock.  On the way, I had my most brilliant idea of the day.  Since Lily and Emma were in the cove, I'd simply walk the loop around the pond and play paparazzi from the shore.

The first part of the walk was uneventful.  I stopped at the outlet to take a couple of pictures of dragonflies:

And then I made my mistake.  I walked over to the water.

(I'll note right now that this story is 100% true.  I am not exaggerating in any way.)  Jack saw me on the shore, and he came right over.  He started sassing me and stuck within about 20 feet of the shore. 

"Crazy loon," I thought, and I headed into the woods where the trail splits from the road.  The trail swings away from the water for a while and then comes back to the shore.  When I got back to the shore, Jack was looking for me.  As soon as he saw me again, he swam to 20 feet in front of where I stood and called.

"Creepy loon," I thought this time, and I kept walking.  Sure enough, Jack kept pace with me.  He stopped calling, but he kept one eye on me the whole time.  (Lily and Emma were, at this point, well out of danger's way on the other side of the cove.)  He followed me all the way around to the back side of the Island.

This is the embarrassing part of the story.  Somehow, I had to outwit a loon.  (There, I said it.)  So when I had the chance, right after a small stand of trees that shielded me from the water, I stopped.  I not only stopped, I ducked down so I was sure he wouldn't see me.  I actually played a deranged game of hide-and-seek with wildlife a tenth my size on the side of a trail in the middle of the woods.  Thank goodness we don't have neighbors.

In my mind, Jack then went from crazy to creepy to downright psychotic.  When he realized that I should have re-emerged from the trees but didn't, he called.  He then went 30 yards down the shore, turned around, came back, and went 30 yards back the way we'd come.  He then did the entire circuit again, down 30 yards, turn around, back up 30 yards, even more slowly, watching the shore the entire time.  Never let it be said that a loon isn't thorough in its investigations.

Satisfied that I'd either given up on the hunt or I'd been eaten by something bigger myself, he left me alone.  I realized this would be just about my only chance of the day to get any pictures, so I ever-so-slowly made my way closer to shore.  Unfortunately, even after half an hour, Lily and Emma never did come back over to where I sat, and this is the best picture I was able to get:

(Note that Emma is swimming in this picture.  This is 3 days after hatching, from what we can tell.  The shadow on the right-hand side is me still trying to hide behind a tree.)

All in all, it was a good day with our new neighbors.  More to come later.

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