Monday, May 20, 2013 10:05pm CDT

64 degrees F     Scattered Thunderstorms     Wind  Calm
Sunrise   5:37am CDT     Sunset   8:42pm CDT
This year has been such an unusual year on so many different levels.
First and foremost is the amount of snow late this spring and the unusually cold weather which in turn led to a historically late 'ice-out date' for so many lakes in Minnesota.
The late ice-out date then led to a late arrival date for our loons, although they were on the lake even a day before the ice went out.  And then formation of ice again which prevented putting out the nesting platform.  But even with all that, the nesting platform was in the water within a day and a half of the ice finally being gone.  Well within time frames for the loons to use the nest.
But for some reason they never came anywhere near the nest.
Then part of the reason for that became apparent when I was able to identify a single loon who came into the area of the nest but didn't not get up on the nest.  That single loon was the female from last year's LoonCam nest, as proven by the bands that we placed on her legs last summer.
It was good to see that she had returned to the lake AND to the area of the nest.  But puzzling and of concern that her male mate apparently is not with her.  As I mentioned to you, loon researcher Kevin Kenow of the USGS said that this last winter had been a very difficult one for loons with many of them dying.
Did her mate die?  We will never know unless someone recovers the leg bands from the male which will confirm that something happened to him.
But it would explain why she is alone and has not tried to get up on the nest.  If there is no mate with her, there is no reason to build a nest.
A few nights ago, I sat down by the lake and watched her as she peacefully floated in the area but not near the nest itself.  We sat and watched each other.  She seemed calm and at peace and at home.  She was so beautiful.  So healthy and strong.  In fact she was so healthy that I thought it might be the male by the size and strength of her neck.  So it was a surprise when we were able to confirm that it was the female.
And her new coat of black and white was stunning in its beauty.
No artist, no picture, no designer could do a more beautiful job of creating such a perfect picture of beauty and strength.
I have been gone during so much of the last couple days that I cannot add a lot of information on some of what you have seen and heard.  But so far there is no sign that the male has arrived on the lake.
I apologize for the 'poor' infrared picture during the night this year.
As some of you saw, it worked fine the first few days that we had the camera live.
But then as with so many things this year, problems developed.  Apparently the IR light source has actually burned out.  That 'never' happens.  Except it did.
Last Friday I spent hours tracing through everything to see if the problem was somewhere else other than the light itself.  But everything else seemed to check out ok.  We had power all the way down to the lake.  I tried several things but to no avail as far as getting the IR light to work.
Once again on Saturday night I worked on it until well after midnight.  But nothing.
So unless we are able to get a new IR light and get it installed, we are going to have a very dark picture at night.
What has amazed me is how much we can actually see with no light on the nest.  What you are seeing is residual heat from the day.  As the nest cools off or we have rain, you will see the picture get darker and darker as the heat dissipates.  But even the near full moon will give us an added hint of light if the rain ever stops.
I told someone the other day that I am not superstitious.  But with all the things happening this year - cold, late ice-out, the male not returning, problems with the picture getting to you even though the camera has never stopped transmitting, the IR light going out, etc etc - I keep thinking "2013".  Two thousand THIRTEEN!  And I can't help but laugh to myself.  Superstitious or not.
So we will have to continue to do what we can.  You all are so wonderful and supportive.  Thank you for that!
One of the very real things that I have been thinking about and struggling with is at what point to we have to pull the nest in.  I would appreciate your thoughts and prayers about that.
The neighbors have been so wonderfully supportive and helpful for so many years with the LoonCam.  Without their understanding and support, I could not bring you the LoonCam.  They voluntarily restrict their own activities and usage of the lake as long as the loons are there.
But at some point it is not fair to them to not be able to use the lake for their own enjoyment as well.
So we take it a day at a time.
I will try to keep you up to date on what is happening and everything that we are thinking.
Once again I so very much appreciate your support and words of encouragement through the years.  It means a lot to me!
Copyright 2013     Larry R Backlund