Saturday, April 20, 2019 7:40 am CDT

41 degrees F Sunny Wind 4 mph S

Sunrise 6:21 am CDT Sunset 8:05 pm CDT

On this Easter weekend, it is a spectacular spring morning here at Loon Lake!

A brilliant blue sky. Gentle zephyrs of breezes blowing from the south form small ripples and wavelets on the lake. The sun has only been up for a little over an hour and is still rubbing the sleep out of its eyes.

An immature eagle sits in one of the trees along the shore, surveying his world and looking for anything that promises to be an easy meal. Numerous Canada geese loudly honk as they try to establish their territories and look for nesting sites. There are four huge and beautiful trumpeter swams swimming in the middle of the lake.

But the best part is … out on the lake there is the haunting and mournful call of a loon!

Yes, our loons are back!

What a difference a week can make!

A week ago today, even though the main part of the lake had opened in the high winds from last week’s storm, there was solid ice up to shore. The loon nest sat shivering under a heavy blanket of wet, dense snow. The loon nest was not going to be able to go in the lake any time soon.

Mother Nature seemed to be playing a game of “SIMON SAYS” with us this spring.

Do you remember the childhood game of ‘Simon Says’?

You are supposed to do what the leader of the game says. ‘Take one step forward.’ But you can only do it if the leader prefaces the command with the words “Simon Says”. If you take a step forward without the leader saying “Simon Says”, you lose.

And that seems to be what Mother Nature has been doing for the last several weeks. She makes us think spring is here. But then it isn’t. She has done that a number of times this spring.

A week ago Monday was a beautiful spring day as the NCAA Final Four was in town at US Bank Stadium.

But by Wednesday and Thursday of last week, we were in the midst of a full blown spring blizzard. Heavy wet snow. Howling winds just short of hurricane strength. Schools closed. Roads blocked. Motorists stranded. Hundreds of accidents.

Apparently no one told Mother Nature “‘Simon Says’ Spring Is Here”.

Then at the start of this week, once again it seemed like spring was finally here with temperatures of 70 degrees and sunshine. And all the ice went out of the lake. But by Wednesday it was cold and windy and blustery and heavy rains.

But today once again promises to be a beautiful spring day!

Can we all say it together?

“SIMON SAYS ‘Spring is here!!’”

A week ago Friday I got my first report that someone saw a loon on the lake. In the midst of ice and snow our loons were back!

I did not see my first loon until last Sunday afternoon. And then I saw 3 of them!

I wanted to get the loon nest ready and in the water. But with solid ice up to shore and the nest covered with snow, it would have to wait for a few more days.

But now it is almost ready to go!!!

I have rebuilt the nest. We have been working on mounting the camera and getting all the technical details ironed out. A thousand and one details and everything that has to work together perfectly to let you watch our loons. But we are very close to putting the nest in the water and turning the LoonCam on for you for another “loon season”!

On Wednesday of this week, as the last of the ice finally disappeared, a pair of loons spent some time swimming around the very spot where the loon nest gets anchored every year. I have to believe it was “our pair” (the female that has been here for the last couple years and the new male from last year) because there is no reason for them to be swimming right in that spot unless they remembered it from previous years.

Once again I keep thinking ‘How do they know?’ ‘How do they remember?’

Not only to come back to the same lake after 9 months and THOUSANDS of miles of travel, but then to know the EXACT spot where the nest has been in years past?!

Then as one of the loons stayed by the place where the nesting platform gets anchored, the other one swam right up to within a few feet of shore. Right where the nesting platform was on the wheeled stand where I was working on it. And she sat there for some minutes looking up at it as if to say, “Well, what does he have it up THERE for? How does he expect us to get up on that?!!”

I am often reduced to just saying, “God , I don’t know how you done it but you done good!!”

So unless we get another blizzard or something else happens, hopefully the nest will be in the water very soon and the LoonCam will be LIVE for another ‘loon season’! And our beautiful loons will be back and on the nest.

On this beautiful weekend, I wish all of you a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover [Chag Sameach!].

Can we all also say it all together?

SIMON SAYS, “Loons … it is time to nest!”

Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund

Saturday, April 13, 2019 4:45 pm CDT

35 degrees F Cloudy Wind NW 9 mph

“Don’t eat the yellow snow!”

Every kid who grew up in Minnesota heard that admonition at sometime or another in his life.

After one day of spring weather on Monday, winter returned with a vengeance Wednesday through Friday.

A huge winter storm moved in with snow and high winds across the Upper Midwest. Parts of the state experienced blizzard conditions with no travel allowed/recommended/possible.

There were hundreds of accidents, semi-truck blown over on the highway and even many power poles snapped off in the wind and ice and snow.

A couple places received over 20 inches of snow although we ‘only got’ between 5 and 8 inches here at Loon Lake. It was hard to tell exactly how much with the wind blowing the snow and with the snow being the real heavy, wet, sticky kind of spring snow.

The worst day was Thursday with winds that meteorologists said were just under ‘hurricane force winds’.

All day yesterday the snow continued off and on. But it was much lighter with not much additional accumulation.

One of the more bizarre things about this storm was the “yellow snow”. On Thursday the snow that came down was “yellow”. There was pure white snow under it from Wednesday. Pure white snow on top of it from Friday. But Thursdays snow, the day of the high winds and blizzard, was ‘yellow’.

It turns out that this storm was part of a huge storm that went all the way down to Mexico!

And in Texas and New Mexico and Northern Mexico, there were huge dust storms from the high winds. And those winds carried that dust and dirt all the way up here to Minnesota! And it came down with the snow and turned the snow ‘yellow’.

Even today you can still see the ‘yellow snow’ between layers of white snow.

It wasn’t quite the ‘yellow snow’ that we were warned about as kids. But I sure would not want to eat this snow either!

Every spring I reach a time when I am DONE with shoveling. This was that time for me this year.

My saying is, “OK, God, YOU put it there. YOU ‘shovel’ it!”

But the biggest news is that the ice went out on most of the lake due to the high winds on Thursday!

It was one of the more strange ‘ice out’ events that I have ever seen.

Usually the ice starts melting along the shore and there are areas of open water and gradually the open water expands until finally the main body of ice goes out of the lake.

Even though most of the lake is now open, there is solid ice right up to shore by my place and it is frozen right down to the bottom. This ice extends out from shore for 150 feet and more.

So even though the main part of the lake is open, there is no way to get the loon nest in the water or to get the camera hooked up for you yet.

I keep watching and listening and wondering if our loons are out there someplace. But so far I have not seen or heard them. But that does not surprise me since with huge storm, they would not have been able to fly. I assume they are well on their way but still someplace south of us.

Probably WELL south of us. Although I have heard 2 reports of loons on open water in the area.

Today the sun is mightily trying to come out but it has been losing out to clouds for most of the day.

So we wait. For warmer weather For ice and snow to melt.

For LOONS to return!

Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund

Sunday, April 7, 2019 10:03 pm CDT

54 degrees F Clear Winds Calm

This afternoon was a very noisy one here at Loon Lake!

The lake is still completely ice covered and the ice is still solid up to the shore.

But out in the middle of the lake is a long and wide area that looks like big white snow drifts. That is where the noise is coming from. How can ‘snowdrifts’ make so much noise? The reason is because it isn’t snow. It is seagulls.

There is a huge flock of seagulls sitting on the ice. It has to easily number in the thousands. And they are making their presence known. They will probably be around for the next few weeks. At least until the ice is gone here and also until lakes further north are ice free.

But there is no sign of our beloved loons. And there won’t be any sign of loons until the ice is gone.

This afternoon was the first day that really felt like spring. Just that feeling of warmth and pleasant humidity that hugs you in its warmth.

We had rain most of the morning and the first green is showing as spring plants are forcing their way up through the ground. And then this afternoon there was a warmth in the air that felt better than it had anytime previously this year before this afternoon.

But we dare not get too used to it.

Because later this week there is prediction of a winter storm moving in. It is too early to know for sure but there is a possibility that by the end of the week we could get some significant snowfall.

Which will delay the arrival of our loons even more.

Ahhhhhh Minnesota - The Theater Of Seasons!

So all we can do is wait. And hope. And dream.

Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 10:15am

46 degrees F Partly Sunny Wind S 14 mph

Seagulls started coming back this morning.

There is no place for them to swim. No place for them to fish. The lake is still solidly locked in ice. But a few of them are sitting on the ice. The majority of them are circling overhead and calling. I don’t know if they think that if they squawk really loud that it will help the ice go out.

Flocks of robins started coming back a few days ago.

And the cardinals and chickadees have been in full spring song for a couple weeks now.

Can spring be far behind?

Can our loons be far behind that?

Today there is a prediction that we may hit 60 degrees or even more this afternoon. If we do it will be the first time we have had temperatures of 60 degrees since way back last October.

The piles of massive amounts of snow that we got in February and March are rapidly melting. But they still have a long way to go. There are 4 foot piles where just a few weeks ago the pile had been over 8 feet.

So far the snow melt has been almost ideal with warm temperatures during the day and freezing at night which stops the melt. That should help greatly with the threats of flooding. Although many areas already are contending with flooding.

Down towards the lake there is still 2 feet of snow on the ground. The loon nest is beginning to peek out from underneath its winter snow cover - but just barely.

So it will still be a while before I can work on refurbishing the loon nest and before the ice is off the lake so that I can put it out in the lake.But even as I say that, there is a forecast for more snow next week. Fortunately it does not look like there will be much accumulation.

So we keep our eyes and ears open. And our hopes up.

Hope springs eternal!

Or is it spring hopes eternal?!!

Stay tuned.

Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund

Sunday, March 10, 2019 12:55 am CST

Winter just does not seem to want to let go.

We are once again in the middle of another snowstorm.

It had been predicted that we would get 8 - 11 inches of snow here at ‘Loon Lake’..

Even though it is still snowing, it appears that we will get less than that because it started out as rain instead of snow. So that has cut down on the amount we will get.

But the far western part of the state has gotten upwards of a foot of snow and no travel is advised in some places.

It is the wet heavy spring type of snow. What as kids we used to call “snowman snow”.

So it will still be some time before our loons can come back home.

No doubt they have already changed into their beautiful black and white plumage in anticipation of their trip north from the Gulf of Mexico. And some of them may have already begun their journey north.

But until we get rid of the snow and ice here they will not be able to return.

Some meteorologists have estimated the amount of water that we have in our snowpack in Minnesota. They say that there are 6 TRILLION gallons of water. That is more water than is in Lake of the Woods. And is equivalent to SIX Mille Lacs Lakes! And that is just here in Minnesota. Surrounding states also have massive amounts of snow.

So now we hope and pray for a very gradual melt. If it warms up quickly and the snow melts fast, we will have real problems with widespread flooding.

But as usual, there is nothing we can do but to watch and wait.

And hopefully it will not be too long before our beautiful lakes are open and our amazing loons are back home.

Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund