44 degrees F Raining Wind ENE 10 mph
Sunrise 5:35 am CDT Sunset 8:34 pm CDT
15 hours 9 minutes of daylight
This spring Mother Nature sure doesn’t seem to be listening when SIMON SAYS that it is time for a warm Minnesota spring day!
Instead it seems like we have been getting day after day of cold and wind and rain. Some Minnesotans are starting to feel like Noah and they are building arks in their back yards - just in case!
But for the loons this is better weather than really hot weather. The rain is no concern to them. They come with some of the best raingear on the planet. And the rain and the wind help to keep the black flies from tormenting them. And the cloudy weather helps them stay much more comfortable as they sit on the nest.
The danger for loons with this much rain is that if they are on a ‘natural’ nest there is always the danger of rising water flooding their nest site. But with this floating platform, it simply rises as falls with the rising and falling water levels.
Although that has its limitations as well.
Some of you may remember a number of years ago when we had some unusually heavy rains and the lake level rose over 17 inches in a matter of 36 hours!
It just kept rising and rising. And the anchor rope on the nest was not long enough to accommodate an unprecedented rise like that in the level of the lake. So the anchor rope itself was pulling the nest underwater.
The nest and the eggs themselves were in danger of being drowned and destroyed!
Most of you know that I never go anywhere near the nest when the loons are here. They own it all. But there have been a few true emergencies like this one that demanded that I do something.
In that case, I had to go out to the nest, unfasten the anchor rope, tie a longer extension on and refasten it.
I did it with great fear and trepidation because I knew that the loons could very possible attack me. And such and attack would not be a pretty sight. I would definitely be the one who would come out on the short end of that attack, probably getting stabbed in my legs.
I knew that the loons would not be happy. But I had no other choice.
As I made my way out to the nest, the loon kept its eye on me. All of a sudden it hurtled from the nest into the water. But it did not go far. A few feet from the nest, it did the penguin dance and it tremoloed and yodeled. It was not a happy camper.
But that made two of us. I was not a relaxed camper either.
By this time the other loon had come in to confront this intruder that was messing with their nest.
I hurriedly untied and tied ropes like I had rehearsed over and over in my mind before I ever went out there. Both loons were there. Both loons were unhappy. Both loons were splashing and diving and calling.
I worked as fast as I could. All the time trying to keep an eye on two upset loons that were only feet away.
Neither loon seemed to understand that I was there to help them.
Several times I felt the rush of water as they swam within inches of my legs. They could have stabbed me. But they didn’t.
As I finished lengthening the anchor rope, I started to back away from the nest. I kept trying to watch for the loons and keep track of where they were. But they dove and they ‘just disappeared’.
I kept backing away from the nest toward shore - but still a LONG ways from shore.
Where were the loons? Where did they go? I had never seen such a complete disappearing act like this.
After I was some distance from the nest, I turned to walk towards shore.
And that is when I found out where the loons were!
There they were just a few feet in front of me. Swimming underwater. They had been behind me the whole time I was trying to figure out where they had gone.
And I have no better way to describe it that there were two underwater guided missiles frantically going back and forth.. I could have almost reached out and touched them, they were that close. Back and forth they went at surprising speed. Streamlined just like underwater missiles.
They could have so easily stabbed me in the legs. But they didn’t. For which I am eternally grateful.
Once I reached shore and left the area, they swam back to the nest. It took them some minutes to calm down and get back up on the nest. But they did.
And once again all was right with the world. And their eggs were once again safe.
I made some adjustments to the anchoring system in following years to prevent this kind of disaster from ever happening again. But we have never had such an amazing rise in the level of the water since that one time.
During all the rain from the last week or more, the lake has come up almost 5 inches. But the new anchoring system has handled it without any problem.
And our loon’s nest is not going underwater!
Even with the incessant battering of the waves, the nesting material seems to be doing pretty good at staying in place. That is a whole other story. There is much more to it than just throwing a bunch of stuff on the nesting platform. That would wash away or blow away in short order. But that is a story for another time.
For today, our loons are safely on the nest protecting two precious eggs.
One egg will be 12 days old today. And the second egg just passed the 8 day mark.
“Normal” incubation for a loon egg has always been said to be 28-30 days.
But with what we have learned from the LoonCam over the years, “normal” may be slightly less than that.
We will talk more about that in another blog entry.
For today, we sit back and enjoy that rain with the loons. Soon the rain and cool weather will be gone and they will be sitting in sun and warmth.
And hopefully very soon we will see two beautiful loon chicks!
Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund