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A pair of loon chicks are startled when their parent suddenly dives for food on a lake in Errol, NH. Photo Peter Gray

How I Got That Shot: Vanishing Act

Text & Photography By Peter Gray

On a warm, late-June afternoon, I was sitting by a shallow waterway teaming with wildlife, waiting for the loons to do something wonderful. Their nest, containing a pair of recently hatched chicks, was just a few hundred yards from where I sat in full view at the water’s edge.

Minutes passed, but eventually it happened: the baby loons climbed on the back of one of the adults for one of their first rides. I remained very still, hoping they would head my way. 

Remarkably, they did. As they moved closer, I tried to control my breathing and kept my face to the back of the camera, obscuring it partially from the loon’s view. I was able to capture some keeper shots, but then the unexpected happened.

When the loons were directly in front of me, the adult suddenly dove, leaving the two chicks bobbing in its wake. They just looked at each other, as if to say, “What the heck just happened?”

This shot was captured just as the parent started to dive.

It should be noted that the loons approached me by choice; I did not encroach on them or their nest. As a wildlife photographer, I believe that I have an ethical obligation not to disturb my subjects. Doing so could affect their survival.

The equipment I used for this shot was a Canon R5 with a Canon 100-500mm lens. The shutter speed was set at 400, while the F-stop was 5.6. ISO was set at 800.

To view more of Peter Gray’s work, visit petergrayoutdoors.com. You can also follow him at Peter Gray Outdoors on FB and Messenger. Or reach him directly at petergray@petergrayoutdoors.com

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