Monday, May 28, 2012 6:15am CDT

Well, it is done!
With daylight, it became obvious that something needed to be done.  The was a noticeable tilt to the nesting platform and it was obvious that one corner of the platform was being held partially underwater by the anchor rope.
So reluctantly I took the rope that I had prepared and headed out to the nest.
The first amazing thing was the reaction of the loon.
Normally they seem to know me and never react or go into hangover position even when I am mowing down by the shoreline.
But as soon as I came out of the house this morning, the loon went into deep hangover position.
I quietly but quickly made my way out to the nest.  Trying to minimize the amount of time I was anywhere in the area but trying to not alarm the loon.  The loon stayed in deep hangover position, occasionally turning and looking at me as I approached.  It was not until I was about within 15 feet of the platform before it left and slid into the water.
When it surfaced only a few feet away, it turned and looked at me.
I hurried to try to undo the knot on the anchor rope.
The loon did a penguin dance.  But no call.  And then another dance.
The knot had been pulled so tight by the rope being so tight that I was having trouble getting the knot loose.  The loon kept circling around me and doing the penguin dance.  Diving and then surfacing once more.
It was frustrating that I was unable to get the knot undone.
Then the loon swam underwater within inches of my leg.  It could have done damage but it just swam by.  I kept working on the knot.  Another penguin dance.  Then a couple more swim-bys close to my legs.
By the time I finally was able to get the knot undone, the other loon had also appeared from somewhere out on the lake.  As fast as I could, I tied the new section of rope to the existing anchor rope and to the nesting platform.
Now both loons were making passes underwater very close to my legs.  But still no attempt to stab at me for which I was VERY thankful.
I finished the knots trying to make sure they were secure but also trying to hurry.  And also trying to keep track of where the loons were as they swam back and forth underwater close to my legs.
I was so intent on taking care of fastening the rope, which is what I was there for, that I did not even have time to look at the nest or see how much had washed away.
I quickly started toward shore.
Both loons kept passing by my legs underwater.  Only inches away each time.  Over and over.  They were like underwater torpedos.  I just did not want them to torpedo me.  Back and forth they went.
Over and over and over again, they passed close to my legs.  Back and forth.  I wasn't out of danger yet.  But so far they had not shown any attempt to do more than swim close to me.  Way too close for comfort.  But only close.  But they continued.  Back and forth.
Only when I was almost all the way to shore did they quit swimming by me and they swam out and surfaced out toward the nest.  And only then did they give a couple small tremolo calls.  Up until that time, everything had been absolutely silent.
They could so easily have attacked and done damage to me.  But they didn't.  They just wanted to show that they were very concerned and were not happy with me being out to the nest.  I have to admit that every pass underwater made me catch my breath and maybe even say a quick prayer.  It definitely was not a pleasant experience but at the same time there was a sense of awe.
I quickly made my way back up to the house and out of sight.
One loon swam back out a ways into the lake.  The other one made a swim around the nest as if to assure itself that nothing had changed.  And then it swam out to join the other loon.
Right now they are both swimming together a little way out from the nest.
It is a mild morning so I am not worried about the eggs being uncovered for a while.  It is now about 15 minutes.  But everything in me wants them to come back immediately and get back on the nest.  
So now the nest can ride over any waves that might come.
After seeing how tight the rope was and that it was actually pulling that corner down a little, there is no doubt in my mind that the nest was in danger.  Any more rain or any amount of waves could have been a very real threat to the nest surviving.  It maybe could have made it for another week but that is a "maybe" that would not have been wise to take a chance on.
At least for now, we have given it the best chance for survival that we can give it.  Now the rest is up to the loons and Mother Nature in this most unusual year.
A neighbor told me last night that they have been seeing a pair of loons swimming on the other part of the lake for the last couple days.  They were worried that maybe the other nest had been washed away in the high water.  I think that is a very real possibility.
I have not actually seen the other nest with my own eyes nor can I say definitively that it has gone underwater.  But I think that is possible.  And especially with the report that a pair of loons has been swimming together out in the lake, it would support the idea that they have lost their nest.
I measured this morning and the lake is up over 17 inches from where it was when I put the nest out back in March!  That is an unbelievable rise in the water level.  This morning the water level on parts of my front lawn is ankle deep!
So I think there is very good possibility that any 'natural nest' on this lake or any other in central Minnesota may very well be underwater.  That is sad to see or think about.  But it is a reality of what happens in nature all the time.  It is just that we never see it and when it is out of sight it is out of mind.
Now we enter the homestretch of waiting for the eggs to hatch.  We don't need any more drama.  We don't need any  more change.  We don't need any more unique things happening.
All we need now are two little loon chicks!
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Copyright  2012     Larry Backlund