During my kayaking excursion around Little Tutka Bay, I came across a pair of Common Loons (Gavia immer) that was swimming/foraging near one of the nearby islands. These diving birds are quite common around Little Tutka Bay. In fact, in the late evenings we could sit outside our cabin and hear the eerie “wailing” call of the loons, even when we couldn’t see them on the water. I was pleasantly surprised to find this pair while kayaking. And even better yet, the backdrop was the beautiful Mount Illiamna! Mount Illiamna is a glacier-covered volcano that resides along the Cook Inlet. When closer to this volcano, you can often see plumes of condensate and sulfurous gases arising from the eastern side, but at this distance and position, it is not visible.
I didn’t think I would be able to approach them very closely, but again I was surprised. Using my “looking for my keys” approach (i.e., not a direct route, but a seemingly meandering, back and forth, zig-zag approach, as if looking for lost keys on the ground ) worked quite nicely, as it often does with wildlife that is wary, but not overly skittish. Another tip: I held off from paddling until they were both on a dive, giving me about 30 seconds to paddle before they resurfaced. Then, when they were on the surface, I just sat motionless and photographed. Here are a few of my favorite images of the beauties in the Looney Bin, still dressed in summer plumage!
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