Loons, Ospreys and Terns

This has been a super year for me photography-wise having acquired images of some great new birds but it is always fun to revisit some old favourites such as the subjects of this post; Loons, Ospreys and Terns.


I have mentioned in past posts that the cool temperatures of this past spring may have had an impact on this year’s northern migration of birds.  The spring of 2013 will also be known for it’s record high water levels throughout central Ontario.   Since the high water levels lasted well into June, the breeding patterns of the Common Loon were most likely altered due to the flooding of normal nesting areas.  The Common Loon builds its nest in May or early June, making a mound out of dead plant materials such as sedges and marsh grasses that grow along the lake’s edge.  Lake Dalrymple was one of those lakes impacted and baby Loons were not observed until the second week of July.  The Green River near Washago, Ontario fortunately was not affected and I was able to get some late June images of a Loon family.  As  you peruse my images you will note the difference in the environmental settings.  The predominately green setting is a result of the reflections of the trees that line the banks of the Green River and the predominately blue surroundings are the reflections of the blue sky due to the openness of Lake Dalrymple..  The following series of images were taken between June and August and you are able to see the size growth of the juveniles.  I have also included a wide-angle shot of a Loon adult and its chick in its typical environment.

Loon and chickLoon and chickLoon and Chicks Loon feeding juvenile 1Loon familyLoon feeding juvenile 2Common Loon 1Common Loon 2Common Loon in its environment


The fairly common Osprey has been on my “must get better image” list for quite some time.  Up until this summer, my images have largely consisted of the Osprey perched on a telephone poles or flying high above, neither being a great composition for a compelling image.  So when an opportunity to see and photograph an active Osprey nest at eye level became available, I jumped at the chance.  The first 2 images show the female Osprey on the nest in June incubating its eggs.  The 3rd and 4th images show the male Osprey also in the nest on the right side after delivering a fish dinner for the growing family, The male is usually smaller than the female.  After the male Osprey left, the female fed the small chicks small portions of food as shown in images 5, 6, 7 and 8.  The last 2 images show that the chicks are almost the size of the mother later in July before they fledged.  Now if only I knew someone with a cherry picker bucket that could cut out that annoying branch on the left side of the nest!

Female Osprey 1Female Osprey 2Osprey family 1Osprey family 2Osprey feeding chicks 1Osprey feeding chicks 2Osprey feeding chicks 3Osprey feeding chicks 4Osprey chicks late July 1Osprey chicks late July 2


The last of the fish-eating birds in this post are the Common and Caspian Terns both of which live on Lake Dalrymple.  Terns are similar to gulls in colour and habitat but if you make careful observations, one would notice that Terns are graceful flyers with pointed wings while Gulls have broad wings.  The Common and Caspian Terns are fairly similar in appearance with both having bright orange bills and black caps.  The main difference between the terns is size with the Caspian Tern being the largest tern in the world.  The Caspian Tern also has black legs and nests on the ground lined with pebbles, shells or other debris and nests in colonies often near colonies of other bird species.  The Common Tern with its orange legs usually nests on a pile of dead vegetation away from other birds.  The first group of images is of the Common Tern including a photo I took in 2012 of a Common Tern on its nest in Tiny Marsh.  The remaining 4 images are of the Caspian Tern and 2 of the images show its size in comparison to the Ring-billed Gulls standing nearby.

Common Tern on nestCommon Terns 1Common Terns 2Common Tern 3Caspian Tern 1Caspian Tern 2Caspian Tern 3Caspian Tern 4

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my friends David and Barry for their expert guiding and companionship while capturing the images in the Lake Dalrymple area and on the Green River.




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  1. Scott Martin October 7, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    Another superb post Arni and I especially enjoyed the Osprey feeding images with those great orange eyes in the youngsters. I sure hope that this year’s new Loons are big and strong enough to make it south before the lakes freeze up.

    • Arni October 7, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Thank you Scott, it was certainly a privilege to watch the Ospreys at eye-level. I have been chatting with other naturalists and the general feeling is that the Loons will survive since they are a fairly hearty bird and if need be can use open water to rest and feed as they head south.

  2. Rob Smith October 8, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    Awesome shots Mate! One thing I miss after shifting South is the Ospreys. You have some wonderful shots here particularly with the interaction with their young. Always love seeing Loons & you have some great shots of these also. Enjoy Peru mate, look forward to seeing some shots

    • Arni October 8, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Thank you very much Rob! The Ospreys are becoming very common around here building nests on top of hydro poles and the Loons are very photogenic too! It’s time to shift gears now that most of our summer birds have left and I am hoping that the northern species make it here soon.