Saturday, August 7, 2010 8:03pm CDT

84 degrees  Hot and humid  Calm
I have just returned from paddling part way around the lake.
We are under a tornado watch until 1am.  Not a warning but a watch.  The heat and humidity have returned tonight and are supposed to be with us for the entire week.
This afternoon at a gathering of residents of the lake, a couple people told me that they heard that one of our loons was dead and what could I tell them about it.  I told them that it was the first I had heard about it and didn't know anything about it and of course I hoped that it was not true.
I have been gone most of the last couple weeks but I immediately thought about when I have seen a loon, it has been only one and not the pair.  However, at the same time, that is not at all unusual this time of year especially when they do not have chicks to protect.  But the thought immediately crossed my mind.
Then a couple other people told me that they had been out on the lake last night and saw only one loon!  They said they didn't think anything about it because they often see one loon and then see the other one on some other part of the lake.  But they said last night they saw only one loon.
So my level of concern went up a little bit.
Finally I was able to have them point out the person who told them.  When I talked to him, he told me that a couple days ago he saw a dead loon floating out in the lake.
As I questioned him, he was absolutely positive that it was a loon and that it was dead.  My level of concern went up.  He gave me a fairly clear picture of what part of the lake he had seen the dead loon.
If it was true that one of our loons had died, what had caused it?
Was it illness?  Injury?  Lead?  Fishing line?  Being hit by a boat or jet ski?  The questions came flooding over me.
Was it one of "our" loons or was it one of the other loons that we have seen on the lake this summer?  We have seen up to six loons on the lake at one time this summer.  Could it be one of them?  There was no way to be sure.  Even if I could recover the carcass, there was no way of knowing for sure which loon it was.
So tonight, I headed out in the canoe to paddle the shoreline to see if I could spot a dead loon.  Hoping that I would not!
As I pulled away from the dock, there sat one loon watching me.  Not too far from the spot where he and I had sat and watched each other at length a few nights ago.  He sat.  And I paddled.  Not know what I would find.  Hoping that I would find nothing.  Afraid that I might find 'something'.  
I had brought along a large garbage bag in case.  I didn't relish the thought of picking up a dead loon that had been in the water for a couple days in this heat.  But I knew it was important to determine the cause of death in case I found a dead loon.  So I brought the garbage bag with me.
I paddled among the weeds along the shore.  Looking for something.  Anything.  A flash of white.  A patch of black and white spots.  Anything.
As I went along the shore, I talked to several neighbors and told them what I was doing and what we had been told this afternoon.  And asked them to keep an eye out for anything that might wash up on shore.  Everyone was concerned but no one had seen anything.  But all of them promised to watch.
After going about half way around the lake (the area where it would have most likely washed up) and finding nothing, I turned and headed for home....still carefully watching for anything that might be a dead loon.
Shortly before I got back home, a jet ski pulled up to me.  It was one of the neighbors.  He had gone with his boy all the way around the lake.  He said that he had seen TWO loons.  One on the other side of the lake and one not too far from where we were right then.  That was the loon I had seen when I had pulled away from the dock and he was swimming in almost the same spot.
But what a relief it was that he had see another loon on the other side of the lake.  Then his little boy said, "Dad, I saw a third one on the other side of the lake, too."
So I am not sure what to tell you.
On the one hand there is somewhere who is absolutely positive he saw a dead loon a couple days ago.  On the other hand(s), I saw one loon tonight and this neighbor saw two loons tonight and his boy maybe saw a third loon.
Since you so faithfully have followed these loons, I wanted you to be the first to know of this.  We will keep watching and looking.  And hopefully NOT find a dead loon.  But if anything more develops out of this, I will be sure to let you know.
So for tonight, I "think" our loons are ok.  And I look forward to hearing their calls tonight.  And for many nights to come!