I had to work on my birthday yesterday, but don’t feel bad for me. After all, my work schedule included driving to Acadia National Park for a boat ride on Jordan Pond with a group of researchers. After writing stories and editing videos and photos in the office all week, the outing was a nice change of pace.
For mid-May, the weather couldn’t have been better. The sun was shining, and the temperature reached over 70 degrees on Mount Desert Island, with just enough breeze to keep the black flies at bay.
While perched on the round, inflated side of the Zodiac boat, watching the researchers calibrate equipment, I spotted two common loons fishing in the distance and wished that we could motor closer so I could take a photograph — but that wasn’t on the day’s agenda.
Around noon, we returned to the boat landing, I asked the researchers a few more questions, and we parted ways. Hangry (a combination of hungry and angry) from not having made time to eat breakfast that morning, I drove into Bar Harbor in search of food, then wisely decided that a big bowl of ice cream would be a suitable birthday lunch.
Thus refueled (and possibly high on sugar), I drove the Park Loop Road taking photos of anything I found interesting, from tourists eating their lunch at an overlook to tree blossoms by Ocean Path to eider ducks swimming offshore. At the Precipice Trailhead, I stopped to watch peregrine falcons flying high overhead; they often nest on the cliffs that Precipice Trail navigates, and it appears they are doing so again this year. Therefore, the trail will remain closed until mid-August so people keep their distance from the birds while they raise their chicks.
Eventually, I made it back to Jordan Pond, where I walked along the eastern shore on Jordan Pond Path looking for the loons for about mile, then turned around. If I’d had the time, maybe I would have walked the entire Jordan Pond Trail, which loops all the way around the pond and is about 3.3 miles long. But it was getting late, and I needed to get home for a dinner/movie date with my husband. It looked like I wasn’t going to be photographing any loons.
Upon returning to the boat launch, where I had started the walk, I saw a dark shape stirring in the water near the nearby Jordan Pond House, which sits at the south end of the pond. I approached, walking south along the path, and it was just as what I had suspected — one of the loons.
Settling on a large granite rock by the shore, I crouched down and watched it as it dove again and again, fishing in the clear water. And to my surprise, it came closer and closer with each dive until it surfaced right by me and tilted its head from side to side as I happily snapped photo after photo with my 300mm lens. The lucky experience resulted in what I think may be the best loon photos I have ever taken, and one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received.