Sunday, May 20, 2018 11:45 pm CDT

51 degrees F  Partly Cloudy   Wind 2 mph NE

Sunrise   5:40 am CDT    Sunset   8:43 pm CDT

 

We wait patiently but there is not much indication that the loons are going to use the nest this year.

It was very encouraging when they got up on the nest the first morning after I had put it out and they mated that morning.  That was less than 24 hours after the ice had gone out of the lake.

With the record late ice out date this year, it was always a question of what impact that would have on our loons.  But they are very adaptive and it was good to see them on the littlest bit of open water even before the ice completely went out of the lake.

There have been numerous matings on the nest - all of which were also encouraging.  Some people counted at least 11 matings.

But in spite of those matings, they have spent very little time in the area of the nest.

There are other loons on the lake this year and there have been many, many territorial battles going on as evidenced by the calls back and forth in the middle of the night.

One of the most concerning things this year is that apparently we have also had a change of mate.  The female from the nest last year that we banded is the female that has been on the nest.  But the male is unbanded.  So we cannot be sure who he is.

Nor can we be sure of what happened to last year's male.  Was it simply a mate change for some reason?  Or did something happen to him over the winter or in either of the long migration flights that all loons must make?

All questions that we have no way of answering.  We can only speculate.

In all the years of doing this, we have had only two years when the loons did not nest.  Both of those occasions were when something had happened to one of the mates.  The last time was when the male was sadly killed the summer before.

There have been reports from a couple people that they think there is a pair of loons possibly nesting very nearby.  IF that is the case, then it is best that another pair does NOT nest on the LoonCam platform.  With two pair of loons within sight of each other, there would be constant territorial battles and the probability that both nests would fail because of that.

So I think it is time to make the difficult decision.

In the next day or two I will pull the nest in for this year.

And this will be only the third time in the last 15 years that loons have not used the nest, laid eggs and had little loon chicks.

Even through this we learn the challenges that loons face day after day, year after year.

The good thing is that loons seem to be doing well and increasing.  The sad part is that, for at least this year, we will not be able to watch them on the LoonCam.

But there is always NEXT YEAR!

 

Copyright 2018   Larry R Backlund

Thursday, May 17, 2018 11:32 pm CDT

63 degrees F   Clear  Wind Calm

Sunrise  5:43 am CDT   Sunset  8:39 pm CDT

We continue to wait to see what the loons will do this year.

There are several loons on the lake this year.  But I have still not figured out who is who or who is doing what.  Although I have been away from home a lot for the last couple weeks so I have not had a lot of time to try to figure it all out.

So I thank you all for being eyes and ears for all of us.  Like many of you I also wish that we had chat that does not disappear so that we could share information more easily.  But thank you.

There continue to be numerous territorial calls including yodels.  So we know that there are at least two males on the lake.

From what I have seen and what others have confirmed it seems that the female that has mated on the nest is the same female as last year.  I saw her right leg green band when they mated the first morning after I had put the nesting platform out (before the cam wen t live).  But I did not see her left leg.  So I appreciate the confirmation of the left leg band being red which confirms she is last year's female.

However, that first morning I did not see bands on the male.  He moved and left the nest so fast I could not be sure that he did not have bands.  But I did not see any bands and so immediately I was concerned that this was a different male from last year.

Someone asked if we had removed his bands when we retrieved the data recorder from him last year.  The answer is no.  Those bands are permanent and are not removed.  Last year's male had green/green bands.  He is the male that I had the very special encounter with a couple years ago.

So if it was not our male from last year (which seems to have been confirmed by several of you) it made me sadly contemplate that something may have happened to him and that is why there is a new male with last year's female.

But what has also concerned me is that this pair has not been spending any time in the area of the nest.  It is encouraging that they have mated a number of times.  But by now they should be getting serious about nesting.

What is also concerning is that there may - I repeat MAY - be a pair that is defending territory very nearby.  Is it the same pair that has been visiting the nest.  Or another pair?

I have not been able to confirm which it is.

But if there is another pair with a natural nest nearby, then I will pull the nesting platform in.  Because to leave it out and possibly attract another pair this close would mean that there would be constant fights and territorial battles.  And even if both nested and laid eggs, we would very possibly lose BOTH nests because of the fights.

Difficult questions for which I at this point do not have any answers.

This morning my neighbors told me that they watched an eagle repeatedly target and dive bomb one of the loons.  Over and over.  For several minutes.  The mate finally showed up and also engaged in the panicked calls.

After a number of minutes the eagle gave up and flew away without having done any apparent damage to the loons.

There always seems to be drama with our loons, doesn't there?

So we continue to watch and wait.  I will try to keep you updated if I learn anything new.

 

Copyright 2018   Larry R Backlund

 

Monday, May 14, 2014 1:54 pm CDT

72 degrees F   Cloudy   Wind Calm

Sunrise  5:46 am CDT   Sunset  8:36 pm CDT

I have been out of state for several days (for the World Premiere of a movie no less) and so I have not had a lot of time to observe our loons.

I have only seen them on the nest 2 times - the first morning after I put the nest out when they were on the nest at daybreak and they mated and the second time this morning when I came home and they were chasing a goose off the nest and they also mated on the nest.

But I did try a couple times to check on the camera and the chat and I saw several people mention that they have seen them mate on the nest several times.

So hopefully they will get serious about nesting very soon.  The clock is ticking.

With the late winter and blizzard, it has set everything back.  But everything is trying to catch up very quick.

I have not had a chance to see the bands on the loons.  So if someone else has seen them, I would appreciate knowing what color the bands are.

There is apparently at least one other pair of loons on the lake and there has been a lot of fighting on the other side of the lake.  But I have not seen any of them close enough to know who is who.

So we wait.  And hopefully we will see them nesting very soon.

 

Copyright 2018   Larry R Backlund

 

Thursday, May 3, 2018 12:15 pm CDT

76 degrees  Sunny    Wind Calm

Sunrise  6:00 am CDT    Sunset  8:22 pm CDT

 

Today is a stunningly beautiful May day here here at Loon Lake!

There are light zephyr breezes blowing across an otherwise absolutely calm lake.  Bright sunshine warms everything and everybody.  Flowers are beginning to bloom and plants are shooting up everywhere.  And the birds and ducks and geese are in full song.

And I have good news for you.

The ice finally went out of the lake on Tuesday morning, May 1 - the latest that I have ever seen.

And the loon nest is in the water as of yesterday afternoon.

But the best news is that at sunrise this morning, a pair of loons was swimming around the nest checking it out.

But even better than the 'best' is that both loons got up on the nest.

And even better than the best of the best is that they mated on the nest.  Which is a huge sign of ownership and that they are probably planning to use the nest!

Now the anxious waiting and hoping begins.  Hopefully the LoonCam itself will be live very soon so that you can watch the wonders unfold.  I know people are working hard on all the technical details that need to fall into place perfectly.

But today is a very good day.

One filled with promise.

 

Copyright 2018    Larry R Backlund

 

Sunday, April 29, 2018 11:28 pm CDT

58 degrees F  Clear   Wind 17 mph

Sunrise  6:06 am CDT    Sunset   8:17 pm CDT

Today has been an absolutely gorgeous spring day, even if it has been a little bit windy.

But it has been a day that has brought huge changes.

This morning the entire lake was covered with ice, right up to the shore.

Then the wind started to blow by mid-morning and surprisingly the ice started to move.  The ice is still fairly strong so it resisted being moved easily by the wind.  It is still frozen to the bottom by shore.  But it broke away from that ice some ways out from shore.

But with the strong spring sun and temperatures that today reached 75 degrees, the ice is weakening fast.  What I often call "rotting".   But with the night temperatures below freezing every night, that strengthens the ice each night and delays the rotting of the ice and prevents easy breakup.

But by late afternoon, there was a sliver of open water just out from shore.

I was working on the nesting platform and also building a new 'cart' that I am planning to use to get the nest into and out of the lake.  Age and back problems are taking their toll.  I used to muscle the nest into and out of the lake.  But that has become harder with each passing year.

As I was working on this new cart or trolley, I thought I heard a loon.  I turned to look.  And sure enough.

There was a loon swimming out in front, not too far from where the nest normally is!

I called and he answered.  He called over and over.  I think it is our male from the last several years because he has the little 'crack' at the end of his wail at times.

Once again, he is back the day the ice goes out.  Or even a few days before.  As soon as he has any open water.

You tell me how they do it!

But as of tonight, all is right with the world once again.

Our loons are back!

Or at least one of them is.

 

Copyright 2018   Larry R Backlund