Eagle River Loon Family - 2012
Silver Lake, Eagle River, WI
As photographed by Jeff Raflik Photography
Waupun, WI

I was in Eagle River from the afternoon of June 8th, to the afternoon of June 10th, photographing the Loon family on Silver Lake. The first chick hatched on June 6th, and the second hatched on the morning of the 8th. I got there that afternoon, at about 4:30. After unloading at the motel, I photographed the loons until dark.

I got the above three pictures early on. I was excited to get my first pictures of a pair of loons with two chicks, but my main goal was to get some feeding shots with the chicks on the backs of the adults.

I was having bad luck with good angles of feeding the chicks while on the adults backs, but these are worth a look. In the third picture, one of the babies on the adults back is asleep, as the other adult approaches with food.

After one of the chicks dropped a fish onto the adults back, the adult picked it up, and held onto it for a bit, while dipping it in the water occaisionally. The two chicks started fighting over who was going to get it, and the fish was eventually brought back around.

After arriving at the nest the morning of the 9th, I could no longer confirm a second chick. This seems to happen most years, usually assumed to be taken by Muskies, but with hatching being two days apart, the older chick could also be the culprit. The first picture, above, is a nice sleeping shot of the whole family. In the second shot, the chick climbs onto the nesting platform, about a minute after one of the adults climbed on. They stayed there for an hour and fifteen minutes. While they were on the platform, I got a well lit shot of the other adult. The horizontal pattern was created from the waves of a boat that went across the other side of the lake.

Three more pictures, at about 6:40 pm, on the 9th, before heading back to the motel.

I went back to the nest on the morning of the 10th, to find no sign of the loons nearby for pictures, but I was able to confirm two "black dots" way out on the center of the lake. I was able to confirm them as the two adults with my binoculars, soon followed by some calling. I kept returning about every hour, but they never came back near the nest. I had never had the chance to stay any longer than a day after hatching, but found out later, that after only two or three days, they completely stay away from the nest. After my 5th visit, at about 2:00 pm, I decided to pack up, and head back home. Before I did, I headed a half mile down the road, to a public beach parking lot, where I was able to confirm both adults, and the one chick doing fine, to help a couple locals document the activities of this loon family, while they were out of town.

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