Wednesday, May 2, 2012 5:35am CDT


56 degrees    Cloudy    Calm

Sunrise  5:59am     Sunset  8:21pm


After of an evening of storms last night, the lake is like a sheet of glass this morning.

A haze hangs in the air.

The trees on the shore of the far side of the lake are perfectly reflected in the mirror like surface of the lake.

The increasing daylight is just beginning to let us see the lake.

Two loons, also reflected perfectly in the surface of the water, have just made their pre-dawn inspection swim around the nest and convinced that everything is ok with the nest, they are now off to other parts of the lake to inspect their watery kingdom.

But after that inspection, they will no doubt be back.

Last night's storms did produce hail in some areas up to 2 inches in diameter and a couple of tornadoes.  But the storm here was thankfully not that severe.

Last night was not the first time that the loons have seen a storm.  Nor will it be the last.

There was heavy rain and wind and some small hail here.  But nothing that was real damaging.

The forecast is for a high temperature today in the mid-80s and the distinct possibility of more severe thunderstorms moving through the area tonight.  Especially if the loons have laid the first egg by tonight, let us hope that the weather does not get too severe.

If they are able to swim and they do not have to stay on an egg on the nest, they can put up with almost anything.  Rain does not mean much of anything to them.  Even heavy rain like we got last night - over 2 inches - does not affect them much.  After all, water is their element.  It is where they spend 90% of their life.

Even the large waves do not do much other than give them a good ride.

But what of the hail?

It was not too severe or too large here at the lake, but hail there was.

I do not know how the loons avoid the hail when they are swimming.  I have seen small hail bounce off a loon as she sat on the nest protecting her eggs.  But what do they do when they are out on the lake?  I don't know.

Usually if a storm is severe enough for hail, the rain is also heavy enough to see what is going on out on the lake.  But I assume that they simply dive to get out of the way of the hail bombardment.  They can spend most of their time underwater and just come up for a quick breath of air before they dive again.  But when they come up for that breath the would be exposed to the possibility of getting hit with the hail.  And if it is large, it could do damage.

But do they deal with hail by diving?  I can't honestly say because I have never been able to see it.  I can only surmise and assume.

But right now, they do not have to worry about wind and hail as they swim away on a crystal clear lake with a surface of glass.

Some viewers have wondered about the loud 'knocking' or 'tapping' sound that they sometimes hear on the Loon Cam.

Let me have you do an experiment with me that will help you understand what it is.

Go get your broom.

OK, do you have it?  Take a spoon or something solid and tap on the handle of the broom.  Notice how loud that tapping is.

Now hold the end of the broom handle up against your ear.  Once again tap on the broom handle with your spoon.

A little different?

You probably cannot believe how loud the tapping is when you hold the broom handle against your ear!

That is what is happening when you hear the knocking.  It is sound that is transmitted directly to the microphone.  Much of it is probably some of the small willow twigs tapping on the microphone housing.  When I first put the nest out, I carefully trimmed some of those tiny twigs away so that they would not touch the camera.  But storms have moved the willow branches so that now some of those twigs are striking the camera housing.

But it is nothing to worry about.  The loons do not hear it nearly as loud as you do.  To them it is an entirely natural sound that they would hear as branches and other things blow in the wind.

As a reminder to some of may have recently come to the Loon Cam, just out of sight behind the camera are some weeping willow branches that extend up from the nesting platform about 4 or 5 feet.  The purpose of these branches is to prevent an eagle from swooping directly down on the nest and taking either eggs or little baby loons.  Or worse yet, to do damage to an adult loon sitting on the nest.

There also used to be some willow branches on the corner of the nest to the right of your picture.  Now they are only stubs.  Eaten by a beaver that was on the nest one night a couple weeks ago.  But hopefully the remaining branches will be enough to keep the eagles at a distance and keep them from swooping down on the nest.

The nest also seems to have come through the storm last night in reasonably good shape.  Some materials washed away in the heavy rain and waves last night, but most of it is still there and in good shape.  This is a constant problem of nests in the wild, the possibility of being washed away.  And it is even more of a problem with nesting platforms.

But in the early morning light, our  nest appears to have made it through the storm in relatively good shape.

As have our loons.

They look beautiful in the early morning light and as if to emphasize that, nature has given us 'double loons' this morning as their silhouette is perfectly reflected in the calm surface of the water.

Now, until more storms come along, we can concentrate on the eternal question of 'will today be the day for an egg'?

Even the best Las Vegas odds maker does not have a good answer to that.

So all we can do is wait and watch.


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

Copyright 2012  Larry Backlund