Saturday, August 11, 2018


John Rockwood

When John Rockwood invited me to kayak with him to see the loons on Lake Massabesic in Auburn, New Hampshire, I literally went loonie. I love these endangered birds, and was fortunate to learn more about them by visiting the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) on two occasions in Meredith, New Hampshire. Here I met Harry who heads the organization. It was Harry Vogel who kindly put me in touch with John. John's renowned for his passion for and vast knowledge of loons. A true naturalist, he has dedicated most of his waking life photographing the loons on Lake Massabesic, kayaking through its 2500 acres since 2002.

            John explained the breadth of the lake; finding loons is no easy feat

The east side is around 1500 acres; the west side around 1000 acres.  The lake is divided by the loons into eight territories of various sizes – four on each half.  Each territory is normally occupied and defended by a pair of loons that may or may not nest each year.

His astounding videos and photographs invaluably chronicle patterns of feeding habits, territorial shifts, interactions and more. 

Monitoring the loons on the lake has become a way of life for John.

“After 25 years in Hi-tech, my office is the great outdoors. I now get to share my love of nature through my photos, videos and lectures.”

John has animated many educational sessions at the LPC, and his photographs have been exhibited in several prestigious venues, including the prestigious Audubon Society.
Most remarkably, John made friends with a particular family who became attached to him. They seemed to wait for his kayak to appear and keep him company. One chick in this loon family became so fond of John, he was immortalized by John in a beautiful book called Grapenut. In this book, he details the story of his relationship with this loon’s family little chick which he named Grapenut. The book stunningly displays photo after photo – each one vividly accompanying the various day-to-day activities and antics of this adorable chick. 

My two seasons with  Grapenut taught me how to capture seldom seen details of a loon family's life through photos and video.”

His humor, humility and wonderful anecdotes entertained me as I tried to stay alongside him and his wife Suzanne – despite their slowing down for me.


 Keen on spotting loons, we realized it might not happen. 

The heat that day was oppressive, so after two hours of hoping for loon sighting, we decided to return. It was then that four loons appeared. John immediately pointed, took out his camera and began shooting.

Emboldened by their appearance, we lingered longer to watch them dive, then distance themselves from us. But I noted one of them came right up to John’s kayak.  

Maybe these loons know how much he’s done and continues to do as their committed crusader. He furthers their survival through his engaging talks and his inspiring visuals.

Learn more about John by visiting his website:

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