Friday, June 4, 2010 5:39am CDT


62 degrees  Scattered Rain  Calm


We got some good rain overnight and the forecast is for more this morning.  

However, the radar seems to indicate that most of it has already passed over us.

For the loons, this has to be just about ideal weather.  Cool and rainy and no hot sun beating down on them on the nest.

We still await the arrival of our chicks!  Tonight it will be 28 days for the second 9:12pm CDT.

I think all of us are ready to see a new little loon chick peaking out from under a wing.

Some thought that they saw a black spot on the end of each egg.  And yet others thought the eggs were intact when they were rolled.  I could agree with both views from what I saw.  One thing for sure, there was no definitive hole in the egg or view of a chick trying to emerge.

So once again, we wait!

Let me finish the story of the loon "rescue"!

[story continued from yesterday]

You will recall that I had been called by someone to rescue a loon that had landed in a small 'pond' in a buffalo pasture....a pond too small for it to take off from.

But then when it came time for the rescue, all that we could find of the loon was a few scattered feathers!  Had a predator gotten the loon?  An eagle?  A fox?  A dog?

As I drove home, I was heartbroken to think that we were "this close" to rescuing the loon.  Only to lose it to a predator.

I beat myself up over and over.  Why didn't I just take the loon when I first saw it?  Why did I worry about the 'legalities' and getting permission to take it?  Why why why!!!!!

I could not get the thoughts out of my mind!

So close and yet so far.  And now the loon was gone!

I didn't want to imagine what its last minutes had been like.  The scattered feathers said it all!

Just as it got dark, the telephone rang.  The voice on the other end said, "I found the loon!!"  I cpuldn't believe what I was hearing!!

The person who had originally called me about the loon had gone back out in the pasture looking for it after I had left.  "Where was it?"  "It was way back in the corner of the fence line of the pasture!  I don't know where it was when we were looking for it."  Because it seemed like we had covered every square inch of that pasture and there was no loon!

But now he had seen it hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of feet FARTHER from the water than it had been before.  We had searched that area (and all the others) very carefully.  I could not even begin to imagine the effort that it had taken for that loon to drag itself that far along the ground.

Now the question was what to do!  It was pitch dark.

To find it again in the dark in the brushy area that it was in would be almost impossible.  But the experience of earlier in the day of waiting weighed on my mind.  Should we wait again and risk losing it again.

Finally we made the decision that we had no choice but to wait for the first light of morning.

It was a LONG night!

As dawn broke, we were out tramping through the pasture!

As we came up over a small rise, sure enough!  There was the loon sitting in a small clearing in the brush!  Still there.  Still alive!

As soon as it saw us, it started dragging itself excitedly along the ground trying to get away.  We backed off so it could not see us.

I decided to go around through the brushy, swampy area and try to sneak up behind it.  I carried a coat to wrap it in and a fishing net to try to throw over it.  It was hard trying to make my way through the thick brush with all of this.  Not to say anything of the wet mucky ground that I had to crawl through.

I quietly came up behind the loon still in the small clearing.

But as soon as he saw me, he panicked at tried to get away by flopping and by 'rowing' along the ground with his wings.

However, when he saw that he was not going to get away from me, he turned and faced me!  Ready for battle.  And he started stabbing towards me with that long sharp beak!  He was not going down without a fight!!

I knew that I had to be very careful of that beak.  He could do major damage with it!

In short order, I was able to get the net over him and then to wrap the coat around him.  But the beak was still free!

I was able to get control of the beak with one hand without any damage to me or him.  But the battle was not over yet!

I could not believe how strong he was.  The wings and the legs and the head!  He was fighting with every ounce of his strength and it was everything I could do to control him.  Several times I almost lost control of the beak as he twisted and turned and fought.

Finally, we were able to get him untangled from the net and get the coat wrapped snugly around him.  That helped to control the wings and legs.  But he continued to try to pull his beak from my grasp.

We hurried back across the pasture with our amazing cargo in tow under my arm!  That was a LONG walk...more than a walk but not quite a run.

We reached the house and got into the pick-up.  We were off to the nearest lake to release him.

We still did not know how he had gotten in the predicament he was in other than that there had been some heavy thunderstorms move through the area the night before.  Probably he had been forced down in that thunderstorm.  My friend said he had heard another loon flying overhead calling several times after the storm but did not think much about it until he saw the loon in the small pond.

As we drove to the nearest lake, the loon continued to fight to free his beak.  The power was unreal.

But it was then that I realized how serious this was.  I am sitting in the truck, the loon wrapped in a coat under my arm and fighting with every ounce of its strength to get its beak free from my grasp.  Had he gotten free, my face and my eyes were only inches away!

There is no doubt what he would have done had he been able to get free!  The stakes for me were high.  I needed to win this battle!

The drive to the lake was only a few miles but it seemed like it took forever!

In the midst of all of this, I would look down and realize what a magnificent creature I was holding for the first time in my life.  Maybe the ONLY time in my life!  But I could not take the time to fully savor it and enjoy it.  Too much was going on.

We finally got to the lake.

We walked down to the shore and I released him into the water.

He immediately half walked, half flew along the surface of the water until he was about 100 feet from us.  Then he settled down and started rearranging feathers.  It was as if to say, "Look at the mess you have made of my beautiful coat!"

After he had spent some time rearranging feathers, he swam across the lake.

I was a little hesitant to release him on this lake since another friend had told me earlier in the spring that he had seen a pair of loons on the lake.  But this was the nearest lake and time was of the essence!

We stood on the shore and watched as he swam across the lake!

There was a sense of relief and accomplishment.  He seemed to be doing fine and no worse for his ordeal.

But then it happened!!

[to be continued tomorrow!]