It came as a surprise and concern when someone walking on the beach came running up to me and told me that there was a "sick bird" sitting on the sand.

Nearing the spot cited, I instantly spotted the variegated feathers and long beak of the listless creature in repose at the water's edge.

A loon.  I stepped closer to it, peering at it for any signs of lacerations or broken wings.

The loon looked at me, its small eyes bright and piercing with no sign of distress or concern.

Why then I wondered was it sitting here and not in the water where it belonged? 

The beach was beginning to fill up with walkers, many of them with dogs.  Despite the loon's apparent lack of concern for that, I decided I better sit down next to it.

Again, the loon stared at me as I sprawled on the sand next to it.  Its feathers were magnificently preened and colored, its compact body full and healthy looking.

Then, the light went on: the bird was dry docked.

Loons propel themselves over the water's surface on their large webbed feet.  They cannot fly without that lift off. Once on land, they are literally incapable of flying -- or walking.

And here's the thing:  they purposely do dry dock at times to allow themselves to rest. Usually in a secluded area, allowing the tide to recede and leave them "stranded" until the tide comes in and allows them to be mobile again.

Risky business at best.  Especially when the supposedly secluded resting spot is not so secluded -- as this case in point.

A sense of compassion for the loon's situation came over me, prompting me to give it a few words of encouragement, to which the loon responded by staring at me more intensely.

Suddenly there was a wave which surged over the loon as we sat together, I now realizing the tide was coming it.

The loon frantically shifted its quiet repose, scrambling its huge feet to meet the water beneath it.  As quickly as the wave came in it went out, leaving the loon still dry docked.

Waiting is the thing,  It wasn't long before another series of waves washed the shoreline, one of them powerful enough for the loon to gain traction - - and finally meet the sea.

I watched it paddle itself from the shoreline and instantly dive under water as loons customarily do, all to surface and turn its small head back to the shoreline where I sat, smiling.

 I could swear it was saying thank you.

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