Monday, March 7, 2011 11:32pm CST

15 degrees   Calm  Cloudy
This seems to be the winter that just will not quit.
Overnight we got another 3 to 4 inches of snow here.  There is a major winter storm that is predicted for tomorrow night into Wednesday but at this point the forecasters are predicting that the major snowfall should go further south and hit mainly the southeastern part of Minnesota and across Wisconsin.  But we will probably still get several more inches tomorrow night and into Wenesday.
We still have a couple feet of snow on the ground with drifts and snow piles much higher. 
It will not be anytime soon that all of this snow will be melted. 
We can only hope that we do not go from the cold weather we have now to very warm weather with rapid snow melt.  That will not be good for  flooding.  There are already forecasts for major flooding this spring along the Mississippi River, the Minnesota River and the Red River.  Communities all along those rivers are already preparing for a bad flood season.  The communities of Fargo/Moorhead are already working to fill 1,000,000 sandbags to be ready for the expected flooding.
If we get some warm days with nights below freezing, that helps to lessen the flooding by allowing the snow to melt gradually.
I looked back at last year and on this date we had a high temperature of 57 degrees.
No where near that this year.
It may very well mean that spring will be later than normal and that the ice may not go out of our Minnesota lakes until late.
And of course, the ice-out dates on lakes determines when our loons return.
So once again it is out of our control.  All we can do is wait and watch and enjoy the full majesty of the change of seasons.  The battle between winter and spring....winter trying to hold on with every snow and cold night.  Spring inexorably working its magic to gradually chip away at the ice and soften the snow.  And before you know it, the crocus are poking their way up through the snows with the first flowers of spring, the maple sap begins to flow and the buds on the trees begin to noticeably expand.
All of our "satellite loons" are still on the ocean....some on the Atlantic Coast and some on the Gulf of Mexico.
 And loons from New England and eastern Canada are still on the northern Atlantic coasts.
By now all of them should already be well into their molt where their feathers change from the drab gray coat of winter to the spectacular black and white breeding plumage of summer.  They are returning to the loons that most of us identify with and know as our beloved loons.
Very soon they will feel that magical unknown call that starts them on their journey north!
They will gradually make their way northward as lake after lake appears from under its winter prison of ice.
And then one day, one magical day, we will once again hear that first call of spring of our loons.
How can you even begin to describe the feelings and the excitement that the first call brings?
You can follow the spring migration of the loons that we surgically implanted satellite transmitters in last summer.  You will be able to track which route they take and where they are as they head north.  The work of the US Geological Service and Kevin Kenow has been wonderful and helps us to understand loons even more.
For those of you who followed the migration south last fall, you already know that one of the Minnesota loons died on Lake Michigan.  Two others have had problems with their satellite transmitters but we do think they are still alive.
The USGS website where you can track their migration is:
Check it out and follow the progress of the loons as they begin their migration very soon.
I would also like to invite you to join me on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Minnesota.  They have graciously invited me to present two workshops on loons.
The National Eagle Center does a special spring festival during March called "Soar With The Eagles".  They are located right on the Mississippi River and you can view many eagles in the wild as they dive and catch fish in the river and as they perch in the trees along the shore.  In addition, they have several eagles on display in the Center that have been injured and nursed back to health.  But they were too badly injured and cannot be released back into the wild.  So you can see the eagles close-up as they do several educational programs throughout the day.
As part of this special "Soar With The Eagles" festival, they have asked me to do the seminars about loons.  As you know, there is a very special, if not always friendly, relationship between eagles and loons.
One seminar will be at 11:30am CDT [remember that Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday morning] on Sunday, March 13 and the second one will be at 2:30pm CDT.  If you are close enough to be able to make the trip to Wabasha, I think you will find it to be a very interesting time.  And the National Eagle Center is a great place with a great staff.  In addition, Kevin Kenow from the USGS will do a session on Saturday afternoon about the satellite tracking of the loons.
It would be fun to meet so many of you who have followed the LoonCam and this blog so faithfully.  You have been wonderful in your interest and support of the LoonCam.  So think about joining us on Sunday!
Very soon we will all be watching and worrying about our loons as they try to raise a new generation of loons.
It won't be long now!