Who could have predicted all that has happened in the last hour!
Absolute silence for the longest time. And then wails and tremolos and yodels like I have not heard in a long time!
My heart sank when it started.
But then I realized it could not be in response to the egg being gone! They didn't even KNOW it was gone!
As I listened, it was apparent that half of the calls were coming from a quarter of the way around the lake. There was another pair of loons over there. And they were the ones that started the first wail call. I thought it had been the mate. But then the wails and tremolos and yodels came from near the nest as well! From TWO loons! "Our" loons.
And the answers came back from across the lake. Wail for wail. Tremolo for tremolo. Yodel for yodel!
FOUR loons calling in the middle of the night! Staking out territory.
Could all the calling be just a coincidence? And odd, unbelievable coincidence that happened so close to the taking of the egg?
As now an hour has passed, I think the calling WAS a coincidence.
For the loon eventually came back to the nest. Settled down as if there were a "ghost" egg. Tried to even turn it. Again and again. Each time settling back down, feet doing their normal shuffle, and the rear end wiggle! Exactly what we have seen a thousand times before! Unbelievable.
And then off the nest again and some more calling to the other loons.
But now in a slight rain, the loon is sitting there as if nothing ever happened.
I think she HAS to know that something is different. But I don't think she knows what yet. I don't think she can see much better in the dark than I can. And I know something is different here! With the egg laying next to me on the desk, there is the unmistakable 'natural gas' odor...the odor of a rotten egg. Not overpowering. Slight but very distinctive. And very telling.
More tremolos from across the lake. But she sits unconcerned for now.
I still can't believe that that was a coincidence with all the calling shortly after the egg was taken! But there is no other logical explanation for it. I think it was pure coincidence. One could not write a screenplay with that in it and still have it be believable. But we all saw it. And heard it. And know that it was real. That it was unscripted.
I think in the morning in daylight, she will realize that indeed the egg is gone.
I would expect that they will return to the nest a few times and sit for a little bit.
And the times in between will grow longer. Until they indeed are free of the nest.
But we will leave the camera on for a few days so that you can watch as much as you can of her on the nest now. And catch the glimpses of them as they periodically return to the nest. Until the are gone. After a few days we will probably shut the cam down and bring this season to a close.
But what an AMAZING hour this has been!
I have to admit that it went as good as could be expected. MY heart sank as the calling started until I realized it was in response to the other pair of loons and NOT to the egg being taken. Now I feel better. I was devastated for a few minutes though.
So we wait for the loons to write the next chapter.
We are merely chroniclers!
[PS I may be up most the night chronicling what is happening with this amazing turn of events! I, like many of you, cannot tear myself away. And I have already filled PAGES of notes in my field manual of what has been happening!]