Sunday, August 27, 2006

Simba the water dog

One loon ...

Two loons ...

Simba is interested ...

... in just about everything

Our three days on the lake two weeks ago were magical, made all the more so by the appearance of the majestic loons. The creatures are making a comeback from having been on the endangered species list.* They are so ungainly on land that they spend all their time in the water except when nesting, and their nests must be right next to the water so they can get to them.

The call of the loon is incredibly haunting. Listen to it here. It seems as if they live on lakes that are natural echo stadia, so the sound just reverberates all across the lake. It's one of my all-time favorite sounds.

The last day of our visit, the Huz and I waited till we spotted the pair across the lake, grabbed our camera and Simba, and climbed into the canoe for one last paddle. We had gone to see them the day before, but they were wary of us. They would only let us get so close and then they would dive. They're prodigious divers; you never know where or how far they'll come up. They probably swam right below our canoe sometimes to pop up some distance away on the other side. No doubt grinning a loony grin the whole time.

Amazingly, on the day with the camera, they were far less skittish. In fact, the male did a lot of diving, but the female never did. She would just poke her head below the water when he dived; it seemed as if she were watching him, but there I go anthropomorphizing again.

Simba is very comfortable on the water, having spent a lot of time in a kayak with his previous owner. See my favorite picture of him in the canoe here.
It's Sunday night, so we can expect to see lots of canine hijinks over at Weekend Dog Blogging at Sweetnick's place. Head on over for head shots, tummy shots, jump shots and what nots!
*From Vermont Fish & Wildlife:

Vermont's common loon numbers reached a low of eight breeding pairs in 1983 and was designated a state endangered species in 1987. The Vermont Loon Recovery Project, a joint effort between Vermont Fish & Wildlife and VINS, monitored the state's loon numbers and began management efforts to increase nesting success.

Artificial nesting platforms, reducing human disturbance and coordinating with hydroelectric companies and other agencies to stabilize water levels during the nesting period greatly benefited Vermont's loons. From 1983 to 1989 Vermont's breeding loon population gradually increased at an average rate of one pair per year. The numbers held steady at 14 to 16 breeding pairs from 1989 to 1994, and then dramatically increased statewide during the next ten years to 43 pairs in 2004.


Lynne said...

I absolutely loved this post! What a beautiful vacation, it's something I would love to go do sometime.

I also had no idea that loons were endangered in Vermont! What a beautiful bird and the sound they make is so distinct; you always hear it in movies or on television and it gives you such a feeling! How funny; I've never heard it in person but it conjures up all kinds of images in my mind. How sad to think it had gotten to the point where they need to be restored to their natural habitat!

I also have to say that the picture of simba in the canoe is my absolute favorite of all time! It makes me smile every time I see it!

Ellie said...

That's a gorgeous picture of Simba! Mr. Woofy would be too scared to ever get in a canoe, but he would've loved to have seen those loons swimming about and doing their thing :)

Stew said...

Your loon photos are excellent! Great job.

It must be nice to have a small dog in the canoe, because he can dance around as much as he wants and it won't rock the boat too much! Plus you don't have to worry about him hopping out to get a closer view.

Try this with a pair of 70-lbs dogs and you'll have a different experience! :-)

Did I miss where you said which lake this is? I haven't heard of any in Vermont that had loons nesting, not that I've been to them all. We usually have to go to northern NH to hear them.

Paz said...

Beautiful! I've never heard of the name (Loon) before. Very cool!

Simba sure has fun!