Monday, April 11, 2011 9:55am CDT

Exciting news for you!
Loon #55480, the Sagatagan Lake male is back to within 10 miles of the lake!
I got news from Kevin Kenow from the USGS and Carol Janske from St John's University.
Kevin had reported that the satellite signal show that he had moved from southern Wisconsin to the Mississippi River near Sartell, Minnesota.  Sartell is a small paper milling town near St Cloud, MN.
Carol said that she went to look for him and she found him right away just above the paper mill dam in town.  They have given him the name 'Big John', I am sure in honor of St John's University.
She said that he looked to be in very good shape and that the satellite antenna was very clearly visible.
Here is her email:
"I went out to check the ice on Sagatagan and then went to find Big John.  As expected the ice is still there but has definitely lessened over this weekend.  Big John was very easy to find.  He was above the dam at the papermill--on Riverside Drive between 4th and 5th Street North in Sartell.  His antenna was readily visible and he looks in great shape!"
What wonderful news!
So he apparently made it through the winter and the oil spill with no obvious ill effects.
And is now back in the area no doubt waiting for Lake Sagatagan to open up so he can be back "home"!
We can be sure that he is only one of tens of thousands of loons are doing the same thing.  Gradually moving farther and farther north, waiting for their lakes to be ice free so that they can once again do that which they were made to do.  Have a new generation of little loonlings!
I have been in far northern Minnesota this weekend and while all of the lakes are still frozen, most of them all the way to the shore, there are definite signs that they are changing.  A lot of 'black ice'.  Although there was a fisherman out on the ice of Leech Lake yesterday afternoon.  So the ice is apparently still strong enough to support him.
Several people have reported sightings of loons or hearing loons.  So they are here.  They are trying.  And I am sure that the same thing is true of loons in New England and parts of southern Canada.
Every day brings new signs of spring.  New hope that it is actually here.  And new hope that soon our beautiful loons will once again be on the lakes.  We will be able to enjoy not only the sight of them swimming, silhouetted at sunset.  But we will be able to hear that beautiful call echoing back and forth across lakes throughout the great north woods.
The sound that is the quintessential sound of wilderness!