Saturday, May 29, 2010 4:56am CDT

56 degrees  Clear  Calm
It is still 'officially' dark.
But already the eastern sky is pink.  There is enough of the  first light of dawn to easily see by.  And the 'early bird' is already telling the world that it is ready to 'get the worm'.
The songs of the early birds are no longer a solo but they are already swelling into the anthem of a chorus.  Announcing a glorious new day.
And our loon is awake and alert and looking in all directions.
The camera has even just awakened and has started to show the first color of morning in addition to the infra red view of the night.  The whole world seems to be coming to life.
And under the loon, two eggs are the definition of that new life.  Hopefully two new baby loon chicks now getting ever so close to showing that new life to the world.  Getting ready to make their debut.  Getting ready for a coming out party the likes of which no one can duplicate.
But it isn't time for the introductions yet.
Soon.  But 'finishing touches' need to be put on our little chicks.  And then they will be ready for the world to see them in all their glory.
So our loons continue to patiently wait.  And to carry out their part of the bargain.
There are fish that splash and are playing right next to the nest!  They are big enough to even rock the nest a little bit.  That gets the loon's attention and she twitches a little bit, raises her head and looks around.  They are probably only carp and no threat to the loon.  It is probably part of their spring spawn.  But for that little bit it is enough to get her attention.  She is always alert for any danger.
Let me explain a little about what you have seen since the camera moved slightly the other night and you now see more to the right side of the floating platform.
For those of you who are possibly new to the LoonCam, you are watching a pair of Common Loons (who are anything but "common", they are amazing!) nesting on a floating platform made out of pvc pipe and foam on a nest in central Minnesota in the United States.
The loons have made their nest out of all kinds of different plant materials that have been provided for them.  Plant materials that they would find washed up along the shores of almost any lake.  They have built it into the bowl of the nest that now cradles two olive brown loon eggs with dark or even black spots.
To the right side of the platform you can now get a little bit of a glimpse of the willow branches growing.
The willow branches line the right side of the platform and are about 3 or 4 feet high.  Just enough height to discourage eagles from swooping down directly on the loon or on the nest.  The willows have begun to leaf out during the time you have been watching.  They are not rooted in soil but they readily form a large mass of roots in the water under the nest.
The willows are probably some of what the muskrat was gnawing on when you heard the 'heavy' gnawing sounds late at night.
The flowers you see blooming are yellow iris.
They are related to the French fleur-de-lis and were chosen because the early French voyageurs, who trapped furs all throughout northern Minnesota and far into Canada, planted irises at many portages along their routes.  To this day, you can still see some of the irises growing along the lake shore at some of the portages in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness!  (Now there is a mouthful!  All of us locals simply call it the Boundary Waters.)
But the history and the heritage of the voyageurs is still alive on many of the routes in the Boundary Waters and the adjoining Quetico Park of Canada.  All of it is prime country for loons with thousands of wilderness lakes and travel only by canoe.
Many a camper has memories of waking up in his tent to a beautiful morning like this.  And memories of the haunting call of our loons that forever burns itself into our memories.  Calls that echo across a calm wilderness lake.  And then echo back from the far shore.  Up and down the length of the lake.  Memories for a lifetime!
You may have noticed that our loons usually face one direction...with their back somewhat to you.  Don't take it personally.  They are not being rude.  Loons normally face out onto the open expanse of the lake.  Where they can get a good view of their territory.  In fact, it seems to be one of the criteria for choosing a nest site.  Can they have a good unobstructed view of their lake.
It has always amazed me that if a loon were nesting on a shore, it would sit with its back to the shoreline.  After all that is where much of the major threat comes from.  The shore.
Threat from raccoons and skunks.  Mink and even marauding bear.
But they prefer to most of the time look out over their territory on the lake.  Their domain.  Their kingdom.  After all, they are birds of the water not the land.
Now they near the end of their vigil and hopefully in just a few days their eggs will hatch and they can leave the nest with two new baby loons.  Leave the 'land' which is so foreign to them.  And so hard to get around on.  And they will return to the water with their babies.  Water that is home and familiar to them.
They probably cannot figure out why anyone would want to be on land when it is so difficult to get around.  Why not be in the water where you have everything you need and is so much easier to get around on.
But for now, the carp once again play and spawn right by the nest!  And under it.  And they have the loons attention.  In the distance the geese honk.
And the birds continue their chorus welcoming the morning sunrise.
Can their be anything more majestic?  What man could create something like this even if his mind was capable of visualizing it.  I submit none could.
So on this Memorial Day weekend when we remember those who have gone before and given so much, we just say "Thank you!" for such a beautiful gift of a morning like this!  
And a loon echoes the sentiment from out on the lake!