Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:43pm CDT

50 degrees   Dusk    Calm
Finally we are done with the wind!  At least for tonight.  This is more like it should be instead of the howling winds that we have seen so much the last few days.  [Once again, let me remind you though that the winds are not near as bad as what the microphone has made them sound.]
I was gone from early this morning until just a while ago.  So I am sorry that I was not here to observe with you and to answer some of your questions.
You need to know that right now the loon is securely settled on the nest and very relaxed.  A little while ago there was still only one egg.  I suppose that there is a possibility of the second egg tonight but I do not think so.  I think it is more likely sometime tomorrow or maybe even on Saturday.  So for what little comfort it brings you, you are not missing anything right now and the probability is that you will not miss the second egg as long as they are able to get the problem fixed within a reasonable time.
I am so sorry to hear that you are having problems with the video and audio feeds tonight!
Let me assure you that both audio and video are looking good from here.  I have reported it to MN Bound.  I have not heard back from everyone but I am pretty sure the problem lies somewhere beyond them as well.
The last rays of light are fading and tonight should be a much more calm if chilly one for the loon.  
From some of the posts that I have read in the chat room it sounds like today was a fairly eventful day.  Let me try to answer some of the questions that have been raised.
From the description of how the loon half flew off the nest around noon, that sure sounded like it was caused by an eagle flying overhead.  That would be typical of an eagle scare.  Shortly after I got home tonight, I did see the immature bald eagle flying over the lake.  So without seeing what happened at noon, I cannot say for sure that that is what it was but it sure sounds like an eagle.
I am sorry that she scared some of you and scared some of your dogs and cats with her loud cry!  But if you were scared, can you imagine what she was feeling?
You are all becoming such wonderful loon 'researchers' and observers!  The amount of knowledge all of you have gained is wonderful.
It is great to see some of the classes of students watching!  I hope that you learn a lot and come to like and respect loons even more.
The eggs should hatch in about 4 weeks.  So if you are still in school, hopefully you will be able to watch the chicks hatch.  If not, ask your mom and dad real nice if you can watch it at home.
Someone asked if the loons have many predators...we will talk about that more at some point.  But today is a perfect example of the bald eagle being one of the loon's predators and there have been instances of a bald eagle taking an adult loon.
For the next 4 weeks, the loons will do almost nothing else other than make sure that one of them is on the nest almost all the time.  And even after that, they must take care of the little chicks and feed them.  So it is a LOT of work for the adult loons.
Some of you have expressed concern about the egg rolling off the nest into the water or even being kicked out of the nest.  That DOES happen with loon eggs and 'many' are lost to something like that [I don't think there has ever been any kind of study to know exactly how many.]
There are several things that might help to put your mind at ease about that happening.
First of all, the loons this year have constructed a relatively deep nest.  So that alone should help insure that the eggs are not kicked out of the nest and it is almost impossible that the eggs would simply roll off.  Some nests are flat enough that it does not take much for the eggs to roll off.
Several of you have also commented  that you think the nest is way too close to the edge of the platform.  Much of that is an optical illusion with this view from the camera.  The nest is slightly off center toward the 'top' and 'right hand' side of the nesting platform.  But it is much closer to the middle than it looks like in the view we get here.
So the possibility of the eggs rolling into the water is a possibility but a VERY slim possibility.  It is WAY down on the list of my concerns and I would be very surprised if it would be a problem.  We have never lost an egg in that manner in all these years of doing this nest.
Tomorrow I will be doing a presentation about loons at a major bird club in the Twin Cities area.
Then for those of you in the Twin Cities, KARE11 TV has asked me to do two shows on the LoonCam.  A Saturday morning show and a weekday afternoon show.  As soon as they finalize the dates I will try to let you know if you want to watch.  Others of you may be able to watch online...I am not sure if they will be streaming it or not.  The afternoon show will be Ron Schara, the founder of Minnesota Bound, and I so that will be fun to be able to do the program with Ron.
So right now  the loon is settled in for the night.  It is quiet.  It is calm.  It is peaceful.
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
After I had posted the message above, just a few minutes after 10pm, I heard a 'rustle' over the speaker as I was watching the I switched over to the LoonCam.  At first I did not see anything.
But then, SURE ENOUGH!
BEADY eyes shining in the water near the top left corner of the nest!  Our dear friend, Mr Muskrat was back.  He looked but he did not try to get up on the nest.  Very soon he reappeared  at the right-hand corner of the nesting platform.  This time he did scramble up on the nest.  I thought to myself, this is going to be interesting!!
Would the loon attack the muskrat?  Would the muskrat scare the loon off the nest?  I thought I knew who would be the winner but I could not be sure because I had never seen this type of confrontation before.
The loon did not move her body at all.  She simply turned her head all the way around and faced the muskrat.  She let out two tremolo calls.  They were not even that loud for tremolo calls.  But it was enough to send the muskrat scurrying back into the water!  And he was gone.
As simple as that, she had taken care of the problem and scared off the intruder!  And told him in no uncertain terms, "This is mine!"
For those of you who have asked, it is very unlikely that a muskrat would take the eggs even if he scared her off the nest.  But for tonight, it was Mr Muskrat who got  a surprise and a scare!
Now all is well again.