40 degrees F Cloudy Wind 5mph NE
Sunrise Today 6:14am Sunset 8:08pm
Our two loons swim together, not far from the nest.
Their heads are held high. On alert. Both of them looking the same direction.
What has their attention is hard to tell. But based on the last couple of days, they are most likely on alert for other loons on the lake.
During most of the year, they are able to get along with other loons just fine. But at this time of the year, during nesting time, another male loon in the area can be a grave threat. So they are wise to be on alert.
I have not heard any yodels or tremolos so that is hopefully good news.
Yesterday was not the first time there was a territorial face off. Nor, I am sure, will it be the last. It is an everyday part of a loon's life. If you have not seen the two videos I posted on last night's blog of two territorial chases, you may want to check them out. They are not videos of our loons chasing but they are loons on other lakes chasing each other. I would encourage you to go back and look at them. It will help you see and understand what goes on during a territorial chase. They are very interesting (and even fun in a way) to watch.
As if we needed any more drama, last night a couple of our faithful watchers saw something and one of them captured something spectacular. Go check it out in the Chat Room at the 4:20am mark.
Some of the willow branches intended to keep the eagles away from the nest, actually drew another visitor to check out the nest. And those willow branches are now gone because of that visitor.
There was a BEAVER on the nest last night!
A number of years ago before we were on the web with the Loon Cam and before we had night vision, I had suspected a beaver of being up on the nest. But I did not know for sure. I could only surmise. Now this is the first time that we have proof of it with pictures.
When it happened a few years ago, I knew some of the willow branches had disappeared but I did not know why. I didn't know if a storm had taken them or what.
Only after the season was over, did I discover a clue when I went out to pull the nesting platform in to shore.
Some of the branches had gnaw marks on them and they had been cut off cleanly about 10 to 12 inches above the nest. I suspected a beaver at that time but I did not have any proof. As I looked at it, I also thought about a muskrat gnawing them off. But muskrats tend to go more toward cattails and cattail roots whereas beavers go after the sweet bark of some trees. Especially poplar trees. That is like candy to them.
But these are willows, not poplars. So it might be like sweet corn instead of candy. Not the favorite but surely still likeable.
In addition to the gnawing marks on those branches many years ago, where they were gnawed off was too high for a muskrat. But it would have been perfect height for a beaver sitting there gnawing.
And now we have photographic proof of a beaver having been up on the platform. And some of the willow branches are missing this morning. I missed all of that. I went to bed about an hour before the beaver showed up. I think I am glad I missed it or I wouldn't have gotten any sleep wondering what was going on out on the nest!
But we still have our camera cables!
That is my biggest concern. Either a muskrat or a beaver could make short work of gnawing through the cables at any time. And then our viewing for the year would be over.
So enjoy the pictures of the beaver on the nest. Especially look at the last picture where you can see the loon swimming near the nest while the beaver eats some of the willow branches.
We still have the willow branches on the other corner of the nest. He did not take those. So we still have some protection from an eagle swooping directly down on the nest. But that is also the corner where the camera and infrared light cables come down. So we don't need him being in that area.
What will today bring?
Your guess is as good as mine.
This is truly "reality tv"!
Will we have more territorial battles? In all likelihood 'yes'.
Will we have more beaver and muskrat visits? Probably. But we just have to hope that they do not do any damage to the video or light cables.
What next? A raccoon? A mink?
Both of them could be a danger to the loons and the eggs.
Even though both are capable of swimming out to the raft, the likelihood that they would is fairly small. The mink would be more apt to do so than the raccoon I think. And I did see a very large mink going along the shore right here a few days ago.
Raccoons are one of the greatest predators of loon eggs in nests that are built on shore. That is one of the reasons that loons seem to like a floating nest like this ... it gives them some added protection from land based predators like raccoons and mink and weasels.
So what will it be today that adds even more drama?
Will it be other loons? Eagles? Raccoon? Mink?
You take your choice.
I can do without any drama for a few days.
Other than the drama of an egg being laid.
Comments or Questions? LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com
Copyright 2012 Larry Backlund