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Behind the Scenes: White Mountain Wildlife

A component of the Flyway of Life production team took a journey to the White Mountains in New Hampshire to find and video the common loon.

common loon by Tomas Koeck
The common loon is known for its signature red eye and black and white plumage, most noticeable during the breeding and chick rearing season.

With summer quickly approaching, a small film crew from the Flyway of Life production team (consisting of director Tomas Koeck, field production coordinator Harold O’Brien and assistant cameraman Collin Moura) recently traveled to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Their objective was to document the back-end of spring migration in the northeast region, and to capture the fascinating behavior of loons in their natural habitat.


David Govatski, a thirty year veteran of the U.S. Forest Service guided the team’s expedition through the New Hampshire wilderness. His career with the United States Forest Service encompassed assignments in National Forests all over the country, making him the perfect wildlife guide for the shoot. He currently leads the Friends of Pondicherry, a volunteer corps that maintains trails at the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the northern White Mountains, the refuge covers nearly 6500 acres of wetlands and forest habitat.


Collin Moura, David Govatski, Harold O'Brien, and Tomas Koeck
(Left to right): Collin Moura, David Govatski, Harold O'Brien, and Tomas Koeck

“The Northern New Hampshire boreal forest can supply a plethora of surprises,” said O’ Brien, Flyway of Life’s field production coordinator. “Our weekend shoot did not fail in the hands of our guide David Govatski, who is a naturalist’s treasure with an immense knowledge of the area and beyond.”


"The Northern New Hampshire boreal forest can supply a plethora of surprises..."

The trip focused around the common loon, a migrating waterbird well-known for their eerie calls and distinctive red-eye. Loons are well adapted for life in the water, able to dive down 200 feet from the surface and stay submerged for extended periods of time.


Common loon by Tomas Koeck
Common loons are a hallmark bird for the northwoods environment.

boreal forest by tomas koeck
The boreal forest supports many different species of birds who readily travel thru its thick canopy.

The film is partnered with the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC), a New Hampshire-based conservation group dedicated to preserving loons and their habitats throughout the state. Conservation groups, like the LPC, dedicate so much time and effort to protecting and monitoring animals and their surrounding environments. To minimize disturbance, the crew prioritized the safety and sensitivity of the birds by filming in kayaks, a safe distance away from the loon nest sites.


bull moose by tomas koeck
While observing a loon nest, the team encountered a young bull moose.

Alongside the common loon, the Flyway of Life team came face-to-face with a number of iconic New Hampshire species, such as the American Black Bear, Snowshoe Hare, and Moose.


In addition, they had the chance to film a number of remarkable warbler species (including but not limited to Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat Warbler, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Ovenbird), which will play side-roles in the 2025 documentary.


Tomas Koeck
Project director Tomas Koeck on location observing a beaver lodge.

Filming across New England will continue throughout the summer as production progresses. Follow along at https://www.flywayfilm.com/.


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