Back home with the loons

Close encounter - swimmers and loon.
No, this is not a reference to my family but to a very close encounter I had the other day with the unofficial national bird of Canada. There I was, back from my road trip, swimming innocently in a Laurentian lake. Next thing I know a loon pops up about two metres in front of me. He gazed at me with his beady red eye. We look at each other for a moment. I giggle nervously and mutter to myself. Back on shore I can hear someone saying - look how close the loon is to Anne!

Loon infested waters AKA a lake in Canada
That was enough to unnerve me and I decided to swim for it,
 the whole time imagining him diving below me and popping up again. He uses his beak to stab fish you know) Turns out I wasn't completely wrong as when I got back to shore he pops up again right next to me. (see video as he swims under us and our friend thinks he's a big fish)

 In four years here this is closest I've ever been to a loon. If you are going to get a close-up view I would feel more comfortable if he was in the water and I was on the dock. There's something about being close to him in his territory that is scary. Yet catching sight of the loon is one of the delights of lake life. We have spent happy hours gazing at the little blighters through binoculars.
Any loons? only us.

There is always speculation every Spring - how many babies will our couple (they return to the same lake every year) have this time? We hope for a view of the babies riding on the adults' backs. A loon half a mile away is enough to stop our conversation dead. To see them is a real Canadian experience but to hear their wailing call at night as you lie in bed is the best. First nations people thought it was the sound of the souls of the dead rising to heaven.

When my uncle casually announces their beaks can slit you open from throat to navel I'm glad he didn't tell me this before my experience. Now before I get in the water I do a little loon check. Better safe than sorry. We wonder if he is just curious, having returned to our lake every year with his missus. He didn't seem annoyed. There was no calling. Or maybe he thought he saw a particularly fatty looking fish? I like my British friend's response. What's wrong? It's only a duck!
Look out -loon about

Note for non-Canadians. The loon is known in the UK as a diver. He is about two feet long and a brilliant swimmer. His closest relative is the penguin. I can just hear my friend again. You're FRIGHTENED of a PENGUIN?

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