Day 2 On... Gaining Trust.
After my excitement of finding that the loons indeed had a nest on our local pond, I realized now my most important and imperative task was to gain their trust. Wanting to capture those uninhibited family moments, those moments that truly say something special, those moments that convey something beyond the capability of words... I, and my canoe, needed to be accepted as a non threatening observer, another one of the ponds creatures so to speak, one that they can trust won't pose any danger to them or their chicks.... this crucial step clearly needed to be done with delicacy as one bad move, could ruin the possibility of that trust.
My first few days on the pond, I would paddle around, pass by their nest with a respectable distance, and watch for any signs of stress. Sometimes I would just let the wind take my boat and drift along seemingly becoming one with the pond. Before passing by the nest, so as not to startle the possibly sleeping loon, I would greet it with a gentle, soothing tone, one I've heard them talking with, almost like a murmur. I started doing the same when I leave. Animals are so very much smarter than we give them credit for, and I believe my communication along with my actions becomes understood.
One evening when I arrived, the loons were off of the nest. I floated around just drifting, shortly after one of the loons pops its head up out of the water a few feet from my boat! As it swam around my boat, it would glance up with just its head out of the water, then pop up again on the other side. I saw it swimming under my boat, its white feathers appeared as a yellow flash from the murky pond water, it was checking my boat out from all angles. Seemingly accepted, it popped up again a few feet away and began preening its underside, not once but several times getting those white tummy hairs perfectly groomed. It then started a routine of stretching, leaning its head back all of the way until it reached its backside, then gracefully pulling into a side roll and again preening its underside.
The slow motion rising up into the stunning and eye catching above water wing flaps were the height of the show, doing these at least three or so times with a side roll preening occasionally thrown in the mix. I was beginning to feel like I was somewhat accepted...
Then the loon slowly swam towards it nest, awkwardly hobbled up the slight incline and sat on the nest, shuffling and rearranging the eggs then laying back down. At this point, I realized the trust relationship is being formed, a relationship that is a gift, one I dare not cross, and one I will constantly monitor for any signs of stress letting the loons dictate the way...
Copyright Pamela Underhill Karaz