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Old 10-09-2004, 12:22 PM   #1
DRH
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Default Fall Loons

Early this afternoon three loons happened to "stroll by" our shoreline. It looks like they are beginning to get their gray fall/winter colors. One of them gave a display that I was lucky enough to catch. Sleepers Island is in the background.

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Old 10-14-2004, 10:08 PM   #2
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Default It's Migration Fever`

That this is an exciting time of year for the loons is apparent from their behavior. They are more "talkative" among themselves, exchanging an occasional, soft "hoo". They preen a lot, engage in "horseplay", and are generally more active at the surface.

Last week I sailed past a small group and suddenly found that a loon had surfaced directly in front of my moving boat. We had each startled one another. I doubt that three seconds passed from our mutual, surprise, meeting -- to his diving escape. (Close enough that I got wet from his departure).

Loons are readying for their winter migration to the oceans off the US' east coast from Maine to Florida. That includes a change of feathers. As they gather in small groups (October) and preen out the old feathers, it is evidenced by the many white breast feathers that drift away downwind from these groups. Somewhere out there, a birding magazine sports a headline "Birds: What They're Wearing for Autumn".

Gatherings get larger as the weather cools more, and as more loons arrive from Canada. Their usual summer (loud) vocalizations are much reduced now.

The larger groups (I've seen 17 clustered) are even more active, with lots of horseplay, chases across the water -- which can gather several participants -- and the occasional single liftoff, not to be seen again. If you've seen a automobile destruction derby, that's what these afternoon loon activities can look like.

Some of these pranks include a submerged loon poking another loon's underside. (Which starts a new spate of horseplay and chases all over again).
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Old 10-15-2004, 08:18 AM   #3
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Good post Mad.I usually don't like your negative posts but I should speak up when the shoe is on the other foot. SS
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Old 10-15-2004, 08:24 AM   #4
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Default I loved the visuals!

I loved the post too - the visual descriptions were so vivid I felt like I was watching the loons personally. Thanks Mad, keep up the stories!
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Old 11-01-2004, 08:08 PM   #5
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Default Echoing Memories

My old dog Fritz stood by the front door after his dinner.

It was the "wrong" door: We had a perfectly good back door with only a single step into a huge fenced-in yard . Fritz was 16 years old -- blind -- and three years past having heard anything at all. Sensing my approach, he wagged his tail as best he could...so...I opened the door he had selected. He waddled down the four steps into a darkness that was equally black to both of us.

He wouldn't want to go far... the yard was wet and, though this was Florida, a very cold, windy, drizzle had dominated the evening. I left the front door slightly ajar, so Fritz could "nose" his way back inside; after all, he was trusting and trustworthy. A long-distance telephone call from an old friend interrupted.

It was the second call in as many days regarding the U.S. Navy's U.S.S. Stark, patrolling off Iraq's coast. A friend had been aboard the ship participating as a civilian field representative when it was struck by two Iraqi Exocet missiles -- with 27 fatalities.

I couldn't hear the caller very well now, as the rain had become hail -- rattling firmly on the skylights of our cathedral ceiling.

I sat down on the hallway floor, changing to a portable phone on the way. Our friend was, thankfully, uninjured. Comforted by the good news and, after commiserating for a few minutes with the caller, I dropped into my overstuffed chair with relieved thoughts and re-opened my book.

Then came this distant faint wail: "Ah-Oooooooooooo" -- Holy Moly! Fritz!

Fritz' wet footprints were present, but Fritz wasn't on the front porch.

Another "Ah-Oooooooooooo" -- now from next door.

Our neighbors had left on a cruise, and there stood Fritz sitting below a dim porch light -- once again at the wrong door!

I splashed over in cold and wet stocking feet, and scooped up my dog. Fritz was even colder and wetter than I, and seemed to be shivering his last. Getting him home, I firmly rubbed his coat dry with fresh fluffy towels. (My spouse, an RN, had switched on an electric blanket in the guest bedroom -- no small sacrifice on her part).

Under the electric blanket, he gradually regained normalcy -- with his ears actually warm for the first time in years -- and by morning seemed none the worse for the experience.

He continued soldiering on for another six months -- unconditional love personified -- collapsing at last in our hallway.

Two decades later, on a black -- and bitterly cold -- autumn evening at Lake Winnipesaukee, I step out into the blackness to retrieve a few logs for the woodstove. As I pick up the last log, I hear a wail, "Ah-Oooooooooooo".

It is the sad, mournful, voice of a Loon -- of course. "Ah-Oooooooooooo" -- fainter this time.

Arms full, I close the door behind me with my heel, place the logs next to the stove, and dab at my wet eyes with my sleeve.

It's been twenty years, but...

Sounds carry.
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Old 11-01-2004, 09:12 PM   #6
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I'm truly choked up from reading this post. I'm not even especially fond of dogs, but I don't deny the bond between pets and owners. I felt like I was right there as you came inside with an arms load of firewood.
Thank you for sharing that!
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:48 AM   #7
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I knew there was a warm loving spot inside the Mad man.Nice story. SS
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:56 AM   #8
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Madrasahs, you truly have a way with words. The picture you paint is just so vivid. Thank you.
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Old 11-02-2004, 08:38 AM   #9
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Thanks for the two great pictures, both in my mind and in my eyes!!!
Well done!!!
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:49 AM   #10
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Well, now I'm really all choked up. First because of the truly vivid story - second, because my dog's name is Fritz, and third, because Fritz is a 13 year old dashchund, and his health is beginning to wane - arthritis and other "elder ailments". Wow - even the sound of the wailing hits so close! Thanks, Mad - what a wonderful post!
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Old 11-02-2004, 11:04 AM   #11
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Default Great Story

Thanks for the wonderful story madrasahs.....it really puts things into perspective!!! After I wipe the tears away I'm going to give my four legged friend a big hug!!!
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:13 PM   #12
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Madrasahs

Thank you for that. There are tears in my eyes, too. Any time you want to share more of your poetic side, it will be truly welcome!

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Old 11-05-2004, 06:16 AM   #13
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Default more great writing

Great story, and written so well ! I think I missed this one last time I was on....
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Old 11-05-2004, 06:16 PM   #14
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Default on the subject of waterfowl

what is the name of the loon style duck with the high, spikey red feathers on top of its head. i was looking at a pair of them through field glasses in the first week of august in alton bay......
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Old 11-05-2004, 07:16 PM   #15
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You were probably seeing mergansers. The female has spiked feathers on her head.

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Old 11-06-2004, 11:54 PM   #16
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Default Remembering Fritz

A moment of silence and tender thoughts for Fritz. Our pets can be our children, our confidant, our savior in time of need, with a bed side manner equal to that of a doctor when we do not feel well, someone who will listen to us no matter what we have to say, someone who will never judge us, someone who comforts us when we cry and play when we are happy, someone who we can tell all our secrets to, and most of all someone who gives us unconditional love. I don't know if we, the humans, can ever give back to our pets half as much as they give to us. I just hope that our pets take with them some of the wonderful memories and the love they leave behind with us when they go. Thanks Mad for allowing us to share those wonderful memories of Fritz with you.
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Old 11-08-2004, 05:45 AM   #17
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Default Thanks....

That is the picture, thank you for posting it. All the time I spend on the lake that was the first time I have ever seen that type of duck on the lake.....can anyone tell me more ?
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