Sunday, April 15, 2012 7:34am CDT


54 degrees F   Cloudy and Rain   Wind 1mph NE


A Canada goose swam just a little too close to the nest and was told in no uncertain terms by the loon that he was not welcome there.  And the goose went quickly flying towards shore to get away.

The loons have definitely taken ownership of the nest.

They still do not spend a lot of time on or even near the nest.  But they do watch it closely, if even from a distance.

Let something or someone approach the nest and the loons will likely appear out of 'no where' to defend their home.

There has been a little bit of nest building activity, but very minimal so far.  So far, I think there has been only one instance of mating with some other half-hearted attempts.  There will in all likelihood be several more matings before the first egg is laid.

As time for laying an egg approaches, the loons will spend more and more time on and around the nest.  There will be some rearranging of material on the nest.  The loon will use its legs to dig a bowl in the nesting material.  Then one day nest building activity and the rearranging of nesting materials will become more serious and a definite "bowl shape" will be formed and within a few days of that happening, the first egg will be laid.

Loons normally lay two eggs.  Once in a while they will lay only 1 egg and rarely they will lay 3 eggs.

The eggs are quite large and it takes a lot of energy from the loon to produce them.  The egg is easily three times the size of a normal chicken egg that you are familiar with from your own breakfast or from baking.

A loon egg is a dark olive brown with even darker brownish/black spots.  This coloring helps it blend in well with the nesting material.

I mentioned yesterday morning that we would maybe try to do something about the nightvision.

The cam is rated for nightvision but for some reason it was not picking up enough and the picture was basically black at night.

We were able to obtain another infrared light that we installed last night.

I mentioned that we would have to shut the camera down briefly while we installed the new light so that we were not working with live electricity while in the water.  I had planned on giving you a warning that we would be shutting the camera down but when we saw the opportunity to do it when the loons were no where in sight, we had to act quickly.  So I apologize that I did not get a chance to give you a written warning before we shut the camera down.

I had really expected that the loons would immediately be there when I went out to mount the new light on the platform.  So as I walked out to the nest to attach the new light, pulling a new cable, I watched and expected the loons to show up at any moment.

We had carefully planned out what we were going to do and how we were going to attach the light so that hopefully we could do it as quickly as possible and cause the least amount of disturbance and stress for the loons.  All of you know how much I hate to go anywhere near the nest when the loons are around.  We and the neighbors even minimize the amount our activity along the shore while the loons are nesting.  Without the support of neighbors who also care about the loons, it would be impossible to do this looncam.  I am eternally grateful to them.

I arrived at the nest with the new infrared light and worked as hurriedly as possible and to yet 'do it right'.  All the while I kept watching for the loons and expecting them to show up at any moment.

As I worked, I was surprised that I did not see the loons coming in.

We had carefully checked the whole lake with binoculars before we started and we could not see the loons anywhere.  That is why we decided to act quickly while they were out of sight.  But I have seen that before where the loons are no where in sight.  But let something approach the nest and as if by magic, the loons just appear out of 'nowhere'.

I finished mounting the new light on the camera and routed and secured the new cables.

And then I was headed back to shore.

I was totally amazed that we had been able to do the whole operation without the loons even knowing!

Or had we?

I had no sooner reached shore than Mark, the president of BroadbandMN said, "Is that one of the loons coming in now?"

I turned around and looked and sure enough.  There was a loon out towards the middle of the lake and he was headed toward the nest.

Wherever he had been on the lake, he had seen us and was coming over to investigate.  Then the other loon surfaced near the nest.  We had been able to do the whole operation without the loons being there.  But we had not done it without them knowing.  They knew.  And they were watching.

But we had been able to do it without causing any distress to the loons and that was the important thing.

The loons swam around the nest for a few minutes, apparently just to satisfy themselves that these strange creatures had not done anything to the nest that they did not like.  And once they were satisfied, they swam out into the lake from whence they had come.

I am ever so grateful to Mark and Anthony and Lance, the great folks from BroadbandMN who do SO much work behind the scenes to take care of a thousand and one technical details which enable you to miraculously watch a loon on a nest in the great north of Minnesota.  No matter where you are in the world.  They also are working on the sound levels to see if they can raise them a little for you so that you can hear the 'sounds of the lake' a little clearer.

Last night you were finally able to see the nest because of the new light.

It was very bright and looked like there was a huge spotlight on the nest.  We will look at what we can do to possibly make some adjustments to the light.  Some of you have wondered if that 'bright light' won't disturb the loons.

The light is an infrared light and so they do not see it.  If you would look at the nest in person, you would not see any light at all either.  So it does not disturb them.

The first year we put a camera on the nest before we were live on the web, the camera had a light built into it that could be turned on at  night.  I thought this will be great.  For the first time ever we will be able to see what loons do at night when they are on the nest.

So the first night I turned the light on.

The loon looked up a the light and immediately left the nest.  She was off the nest for about 15 minutes and she refused to get back up on the nest as long as the light was on.  She swam right by the nest but she would not get back up on the nest.

So I reluctantly turned off the light, disappointed that what had seemed like a good idea did not work at all.

The next day I thought I would fool the loons.

I would turn the light on during the day and as it gradually got dark the light would just be there and the loons wouldn't notice or care.  They would just think it was another "moon"!

The loon on the nest could have cared less when I turned it on in the broad daylight.  She did not even seem to notice or care.  Yes, this was working out brilliantly.

But as darkness came, she began looking up at this 'new moon' in her sky.  And she knew it was not right.  She got off the nest and would not return as long as the light was on.  It was a repeat of the night before.  She swam nearby but she would not get back up on the nest.

My "brilliant" idea had not been so brilliant at all.  Literally.

So once again I reluctantly turned the light off and she immediately got back up on the nest.

The mysteries of what a loon does on a nest at night would have to remain their secret for a few more years.  Until a few years ago when we were able to successfully use infrared lights to open up a whole new world of observing loons throughout the night as they are on the nest.

So now that we have the new infrared light on the nest, enjoy watching what loons do at night.

Today promises to bring rain.  Possibly heavy rain at times and even the threat of severe weather.  The forecast says that most of the severe weather will stay well to the south of us.  Our hearts go out to the people in Oklahoma who died last night in a breakout of severe weather and possibly tornadoes.

We do not need high winds or severe weather for the loons.  Rain is absolutely no problem for them.  But severe weather can do damage to the nest.

There is even a chance of SNOW for tonight!

So watch and see what happens today.

Hopefully you will be watching when the loons make their ever so brief appearances at the nest.



Comments or Questions?  LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com