Friday, May 7, 2010 8:38pm CDT


34 degrees   Dusk   Wind  N13mph


In the fading light of day, banks of fog are blowing across the lake like the manes of horses.  Sigurd Olson used to call them "the galloping horses of Lac La Croix".

But those 'manes' are just an indication of how cold it is.  They are the water vapor of the evaporation of the relatively warm lake water as it hits the 34 degree air blowing over its surface!  And the wind is blowing them like galloping horses across the lake.

And now as the temperature drops, flakes of wet, heavy snow are mixing in with the rain.  Yes, snow!

Is this some cruel joke by Mother Nature?!  Snow in May?

After an unusually warm spring, now the weather has turned unusually cold.

But our loon is sitting faithfully on the egg in the nest.

Someone asked what a loon would do if it snowed.  

I don't know because I have never seen this before.  And the rain and the snow are starting to obscure the lens of the camera making it hard to see how the loon is reacting.  I am sure this is nothing new for loons since they nest in the far northern reaches of Canada where they can get snow in every month of the year.

But for us in the 'lower 48' it is hard to see snow this time of year.  And I think we project those feelings on the loons.

There is almost a certainty of freezing temperatures tonight.  In northern Minnesota there is a chance for accumulation of snow...maybe even 2 to 4 inches!  And there are MANY loons on the lakes of northern Minnesota and the Boundary Waters.  They will be dealing with much more snow than our loons will be here in central Minnesota.

Let me add some more information about the muskrat being on the nest last night.  I told you how when he had crawled up on the lower right corner, the loon turned her head and shot him the 'evil eye' and then two tremolo calls aimed directly at him.  And he made a mad dash  back into the water.

I thought that would be enough to keep him off the nest.

But alas no!  About midnight he was back!

This time in the corner of the nest where the camera and microphone wires come down and enter the water.  And he was GNAWING!!!

The loon turned and looked but did nothing.  No movement, no call.  Apparently he was  just far enough away that she felt he was no threat to her or the egg.

But he was a threat to ME!  With all the gnawing sounds, I imagined all of my worst nightmares, especially that he would gnaw through the cables and that your picture and sound would disappear.  Probably for the year since it would be almost impossible to fix with the loons on the nest.  And that was a prospect that I was not ready to let happen.

I shined the bright light down there.  But it didn't seem to faze him.  Fortunately it did not seem to upset the loon either.  But it did not help.

So in the dark, down to the lake I went.

I walked out on the dock, something I NEVER do when the loons are around!  I hoped that I would not frighten the loon.

Then I heard a big splash!

Something had left the nest!  But was it the loon?  Or was it the muskrat?

I headed up to the house to check the picture from the camera.  Imagine my relief to see the loon still sitting contentedly on the nest and no sign of the muskrat.  And more importantly, no gnawing sounds!

So for now, everything was peaceful and secure.  But would it remain so?  Now I could not be sure since he had come back.  When he first appeared a week or two ago, I had sprayed that area of the nest with hot pepper wax.  I hoped if he got a taste of that he would never come back.  It seems like he likes spicy food!!!

But I had to be up very early in the morning so I could not stay up all night on guard against him.  I had to be content that what happens, happens.

Imagine my relief early this morning to see that the cam was live and working.

So continue to enjoy the view...or whatever you can see between the snowflakes.  We will all learn tonight what the loon's reaction will be.

And hopefully come daybreak, our loon and our 'promise of life' will both be ok.