The loons have been strangely silent all weekend, and I have been singularly distracted from them, so it was not until this morning that I realized that the adults are gone.
Well, they are not totally gone, but they are in a transitional phase. I think they are starting to spend time in their staging area. Adult loons, at some point late in the season (and though I shall remain in denial the season is starting to laten) begin to gather at a specific staging area, either a part of a larger lake (as in the case of my loons) or in some intermediary pond or lake. They form a flock, and then take off and fly to their wintering grounds, which is somewhere in the ocean. (And when I say “in” the ocean, that’s pretty much what I mean. As far as I know, they just float around in the ocean all winter, not far from shore.)
The babies, which now look adult size but are still probably feeding up, stay where they were raised by the parents until much later in the season. They seem to stay here for weeks after the staged-flock adults leave. I assume what is happening here is that the parents, having taught the young everything they can, get out of the way and stop competing for food (this earlier migration, then, is a form of parental investment, if it has a cost to the adults).
The staging area for these loons is around the point to the west of the bay, and a kilometre or a bit less down, kind of in the middle of the lake. Our cousins, who have a cabin over there, can see the ever-growing flocks from their deck.