10:16am CDT Tuesday, July 23, 2013

67 degrees F     Sunny     Wind  7mph NNE  Sunrise   5:47am CDT     Sunset   8:50pm  CDT

It is a beautiful, sunny day here in Minnesota.

Cool.  Clear.  No humidity.  Even a little bit on the chilly side yet this morning.

It is nice after the heat and humidity that we had last week.

The wind is picking up a little bit so there are waves on the lake.  Even a few small whitecaps but nothing major.

These are the beautiful days of summer that linger in our memories in the depths of winter.  We savor them while we can.

I do not see the loons right now but they are still around.

We still have the 5 loons that we had earlier this spring - two pairs and a single loon.

But then a few weeks ago we had even more visitors!  One of the neighbors called me and said that he had seen what he thought were two immature loons still in their gray plumage.  He asked if that was possible and what might be happening.

I knew that he knew loons well enough to correctly identify them but we went through every possibility of it being other birds.  But it sure sounded like immature loons.  So he asked me if I would go out to identify them if he saw them again.

Early the next morning, he called and said he was out on the lake and he saw the immature pair of loons.  So he came to get me and out we went to see if we could identify them.  Wouldn't you know it?  When we got out onto the lake we could not find them!  He said, "I know I saw them!"

We looked and looked but could not find them.

Suddenly, there was one of them!

And a couple minutes later the second one showed up.  It WAS two immature loons.  It is hard to tell age but I guessed that they were maybe two year old chicks that had for some reason come back early.  Kevin Kenow from the USGS said that they have seen a few cases of young loons coming back early and they usually come back to the lake they were hatched on or a lake in the area.  One of the people from the Minnesota DNR guessed that they might be three year old loons who had not yet gotten their first adult plumage.

But as usual, there were more questions than answers of who they are and where they came from.  They definitely were much to big for it to be any chicks from this year on the lake or on any other surrounding lakes.  Any of this years chicks would not be in full feather yet, let alone would they be able to fly.

Is it possible that they are chicks from the loon cam two or three years ago?

We know they both be chicks that hatched on the lake here last year because we lost the chick from the LoonCam and one of the other two chicks that hatched on the lake was found on Lake Phalen in St Paul last September all tangled up in fishing line.  In spite of heroic efforts by the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, even including surgery, he was too badly injured to survive his injuries.

So out of the three chicks hatched on the lake last year, only one survived.

So these two immature loons cannot both be from the lake here last year.

When we finally were able to spot these two immature loons, my friend said, "I am so glad you saw them, too.  Or people would think I was out here drinking while I was fishing!"

Kevin Kenow and his crew are going to come out here today to see if there is any possibility that we can capture the loons that be banded last year.

We so much want to recapture them to be able to download the data off the geolocater tags that were attached to their legs.

Those geolocater have been recording data for the last year.  It has recorded the location of the loons every day.  It will show exactly where they have gone and when.  So it will add so much to our knowledge of loons and their migration and especially what happens to them during the winter down on the Gulf of Mexico.

But we have to catch them to retrieve the data recorders.

Without the loons here on this lake having chicks, that makes it VERY difficult to capture them.  To capture a loon, you rely on their natural instinct to protect their chicks.  This make it easier to get close to them and capture them.  But without chicks, some of that defensiveness is not that and it is much more difficult, or even impossible, to capture them.

But Kevin and his crew want to retrieve that data almost as much as you and I want them to.

So we will see what they think when they get here later today.

I apologize to you that it has been so long since I have last updated you.  I have been gone a lot this summer.  But I will try to let you know what happens today and what the decision is about capture.

This is the first time I will have updated the blog since they made all the changes to the website.  I now no longer post my blog directly but send someplace and then it gets posted 'automatically'.  So hopefully this works and the blog is there for you to read.

Copyright 2013     Larry R Backlund