Friday, May 11, 2012 5:34am CDT

61 degrees F    Clear    Wind 2mph S
Sunrise 5:47am      Sunset 8:32pm
Our loon sits on the nest facing out into the lake surveying all of her kingdom.
Underneath her the precious cargo of two eggs rest safely.
The second egg arrived yesterday morning, slightly less than 24 hours ago.
Now they can get down to serious business.  For the next four weeks the loons will seldom be off the eggs except for short periods of time.
The 'normal' incubation period for loon eggs is 28 days.  But that can vary from as short as 25.5 days to as long as 30 days.  This should place the hatching of the eggs sometime during the first week of June.
So now they settle in for the long haul.
There are still many dangers and still many things that can go wrong.  But all the hope of the loons for this year is now tied up in these two eggs.
One of the first challenges for the loons comes tomorrow.
One of the "religious" holidays in Minnesota, almost on a par with Christmas and Easter, comes tomorrow.
It is called the 'Fishing Opener'.
This is the first day of the year that fishermen can legally take game fish, especially Minnesota's favorite fish and official state fish, the walleye.  On this day, hundreds of thousands of people load up their boats and their gear and head for the lake.  Many of them will head out onto the lake at the stroke of midnight tonight to try their luck at catching fish.  And gaining bragging rights.
With all those fishermen comes increased pressure on loons.  The increased activity puts fishermen and loons in close proximity of each other.  If the fishermen approach too close to a loon nest, they can scare the loon off the nest.
Being scared off the nest one time will not have too much of an effect.
But if they are scared off once by one fisherman, then again by another.  And another and another and another.  Soon the effect becomes cumulutive and the loons may actually abandon the nest if they are scared off too many times.   
A good rule of thumb if you are out in a boat and see a loon nest is to stay a distance away from it. 
All of us are curious.  We want to see something so interesting and wonderful.  And we want to see it up close.  So we approach too close and we scare the loons off the nest.
So if you are going fishing or if you know someone who is, encourage them to stay at least 300 feet away from any loons or loon nest.  Bring your binoculars with you and watch them that way.  By doing that, you will not add to the stress on nesting loons.  And you will not be part of a pair of loons possibly abandoning their nest.
One of the other things that fishermen can do is to consider replacing their lead sinkers and jigs with non-lead versions.
Loons have been know to pick up lead sinkers off the bottom of the lake thinking they are a small stone which they need to grind their food in their gizzard.  But one lead sinker ingested by a loon is enough to kill him.
Apparently the territorial battles are not over completely yet.
Last night around 8pm the loon was drawn off the nest.
Soon there was some excited diving and splashing by two loons.  And then one of them took off frantically rowing and flapping along the surface of the water.  He stopped and sat with his head in the water peering underneath him.  Then what apparently was 'our' loon would surface near him and he would take off flapping again to get away.  Making a tremolo call as he scooted along the surface of the water.  A loon, 'our' loon would surface right where he had been sitting.
This occurred over and over.
Finally he decided enough was enough.  And he left the area.
And our loon returned to take care of the nest and the two precious eggs.
Once again, peace had returned to the lake.  But apparently all loons had not signed the peace treaty and not all of them had agreed on the 'territorial lines' that had been drawn.
What will happen today?
There is only one way to find out.
And that is to watch and not miss a minute of the LoonCam.
Comments or Questions?  LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com
Copyright 2012    Larry Backlund