Tuesday, March 22, 2010 11:03pm CDT

31 degrees   Sleet and Snow   Wind SW2mph
And now it starts!
One of the loons that we implanted a satellite transmitter has now started to move north!
This is the loon from Lake Sagatagan in Minnesota that we implanted a satellite transmitter into last summer.  He is also know as loon #55480 on the USGS website where you can track the progress of some of the loons that are carrying satellite transmitters.
Loon 55480 had spent much of the winter just off the Florida Gulf Coast near Tampa/St Petersburg.  He had moved slightly south of Tampa near Sarasota and then started to move north to near Tallahassee just before he took off on his flight north.
He left the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, March 17th and flew 320 miles to Weiss Lake in Alabama.  Then on Friday, March 18th to Center Hill Lake, TN and on Sunday, March 20th to Lemon Lake, IN.
So the excitement of the northward migration has started.
There is hope that spring will actually arrive and displace all the cold and snow and ice.
And once again we will hear the haunting call of loons on our beautiful northern lakes.  The sights and sounds that stir something deep within our soul.  That connect us to the real world.  That strengthen that bond with nature.  That open our eyes to the beauty of creation all around us.  Beauty that is there if we will only take the time to stop and look.  And see the wonder of it all.
Of the nine other loons that we surgically implanted with satellite transmitters, one Minnesota loon died on Lake Michigan last August from aspergillosis.  Three are having problems with their satellite transmitters but we think they are alive.  The other 5 loons are still on the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.
The loons will gradually move north as far as they can find open water.
This winter has been a tough winter throughout the northern United States.  Last year the ice went out on our loon's lake on March 30th.  I think we will be looking at something later than that this year.  But then last year was earlier than normal.  Normal ice out here is somewhere around the middle of April.
It will be interesting to watch to see if the loons use Lake Michigan as a spring staging ground as they did with their fall migration.
Tonight is cold and we are getting sleet and snow.  By the time this storm moves through some parts of the state could get between a foot to a foot and a half of snow!  They are predicting lesser amounts in the far north and the far south.  But there have been blizzard warnings out for Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior!  I was up along the North Shore last week  near the Canadian border for a conference at a wonderful place called Naniboujou Lodge.  If you want a unique, historic place to get away, check it out.
I am glad it was last week and not in the midst of a blizzard!  Although I think tonight the forecasters have moved the storm track slightly south.
But increased snow and cold over the next week will delay the spring melt.
By now loon 55480 should be in his full black and white plumage that we in the north are so familiar with.  Since he left Minnesota last fall, he completely lost his black and white feathers and replaced them with a drab gray coat of feathers.  And now this spring he has once again completely lost the gray feathers and has replaced them with the beautiful black and white that we know and love.
So prepare yourself for another season of watching our amazing loons on the LoonCam!
Who knows what drama and wonder awaits us this year as we watch these wonderful loons nest and hopefully raise a new generation of loons.
Depending on ice out, the LoonCam should go live sometime the last part of April.
And once again none of us will get anything done as we are mesmerized by them.
Get some extra sleep now.  Because it will be hard to sleep once they are here.
Let me add a big THANK YOU to those of you who came out to the National Eagle Center for my presentation on "Amazing Loons" last week.  It was so good to meet some of you who have been so faithful in watching the LoonCam and participating in the Loon Chat Room.
The National Eagle Center personnel were amazed at the interest and the turnout.  It was the largest turnout that they have seen.  They have already asked me if I would be willing to return next year for the Soar With The Eagles festival!  So thank you for making the day so special.  You may want to send them a thank you note for doing a special seminar on loons.