Wednesday, May 29, 2013 10:45pm CDT

66 degrees F     Partly Cloudy     Wind  3mph E
Sunrise  5:30am CDT     Sunset  8:51pm CDT
I have read where some of you have gone through "LoonCam withdrawal" today.
Thank you for saying that.  I certainly understand what you are saying.
There is an empty hole where there should be loons.
Amazingly I have seen very little of the loons today.  I saw a pair out toward the middle of the lake about midday.  But they did not even come anywhere near the nest.  It is truly strange behavior that I have never seen before.  Especially since at least one of the loons is apparently banded.
Someone asked why I have not identified which loon that was.  Well, the answer is pretty simple.  As hard as I have tried, I have not been able to see the bands on both legs [other than the female which we identified a couple weeks ago].  I have looked and looked.  But they have stayed far enough away that I have not been able to make out what kind of bands the loon had.  I could see that it had bands, but I could not tell what they were.
Surprisingly [and questionably] the other loon of the pair may NOT have had bands!  Again, I could not get a good view but I did not see any bands.  Take that for what it is worth.  It is not definitive because they were far enough away that I could not see clearly.  If that is the case, it continues to raise questions.
There are so many questions this year.
And many of them we may never get the answers for.  But maybe as the summer goes on, we may learn more.  Did the female find a new mate?  Did the male finally come back?  Why after using the nest last year did they not use it this year?  Questions questions questions.
There is some research which seems to indicate that a loon pair will use the same nest if it was a successful nest the year before.
Last year, we had one chick that hatched and one egg that did not hatch.
The chick that hatched was such a cute and precocious and independent spirit.  He did what HE wanted when he wanted.  It was the chick that kept bringing the parents back to the nest, not the other way around.
It was the chick that loved to get up on the nest and sit there for hours.
After a while, the parents seemed to tire of that and they would swim off leaving the chick all by himself.
And then the chick disappeared.
We will never know what happened to him.  It was a strange feeling to know he was gone after I had held him when we did the banding.  The first time I have ever held one of the chicks from the LoonCam.  And then he was gone.
Where did he go?  Who knows.
I personally think that an eagle probably got him.  And I sometimes wonder if his independent spirit and being alone so much added to the danger.
Now the thought keeps going through my mind, 'Did the parents consider that and unsuccessful nesting season and did that impact on their choice to not use the nest this year?'
And what does their not using the nest this year mean for usage of the nest next year?
Once again, we are not in control of any of it.  We can only lay the groundwork.  And then stand back and watch.  And learn.
Just at dusk tonight, I went out and pulled in the swimming raft and the buoys that mark out the area around the nest.  That is when it started to sink in of the finality of this season for the LoonCam.
I have shared with you in years before how every spring I sort of become paranoid before the loons nest.  I wonder what would happen if we get everything ready for a 'loon party' and the guests of honor do not show up.  What if everybody got all excited about seeing loons and there were none?  What if 'we built it' but they did not come?
Well, this year we found out.
Strangely enough, I did not have that same sense of 'paranoia' this year!
I don't know if it was because of the strange weather, the late spring and everything being so different or what it was.
But as I gathered up the 12 buoys and brought them to shore, the reality was there.  That there would be no loons nesting on the LoonCam this year.
And there was a certain sadness and emptiness to that. 
One of the most gratifying and comforting things in previous years was to drive up to the house when I came home and to look out at the lake and there see the silhouette of a loon on the nest.  Faithfully staying and taking care of eggs until they miraculously turned into little black and white loon chicks.
But alas, that was not to be this year.
So we hold on to the thought that the loons know what they are doing.
And for some reason they did not nest this year.  
At least on the LoonCam nest.
Copyright 2013     Larry R Backlund