11:55 pm CDT Saturday, November 1, 2014

35 degrees F Clear Wind Calm Sunrise 7:52 am CDT Sunset 5:59 pm CDT

I cannot believe that it has been over 2 months since I last updated you!

I apologize for the long delay.

Since I have last talked to you, a lot has happened. And changed.

The most obvious change has been we have moved from summer to late fall. And the weather the last few days shows it.

It was 15 degrees here this morning!

There is a little bit of ice forming along the edge of the lake. A month from now the lake will probably be completely frozen over.

A small lake/pond about a mile away was frozen over this morning. A pair of swans has made it their home for the last several years and once again had two cygnets. They were on the pond yesterday. But obviously gone this morning. They may have been part of a group of swans that was on the lake here today.

I am afraid that I cannot give you much first hand information about 'our loons' since I have not seen them since I last posted in the blog in August.

Since I last talked to you, I have been in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Wisconsin and from one end of Minnesota to the other!

Other than that, not much has been going on.

By now there our adult loons should definitely be on their way south if not already down on the Gulf of Mexico.

And the young loons are starting to move.

I still owe you a little more information on the work that I did with Kevin Kenow and the USGS back in July. And I will try to do that and not take as much time as I have in giving you this update.

But the thing that I want to especially let you know about right now is that Kevin and the USGS have been working on a new project which should provide some VERY interesting information about our beloved loons.

We have talked about how little is known about loons during their time on their wintering grounds on the Gulf and on the Atlantic Ocean.

The project that we did a couple years ago of placing data recorders on a number of loons, including our LoonCam loons, should help fill in information about some of that unknown time.

But with as little as we know about adults during this time, we know even less about what juveniles do during this time. Or even for the first two or three years of their lives.

This past August, the USGS surgically implanted satellite transmitters in 20 juvenile loons (chicks from this summer) in Minnesota and Wisconsin!

You will remember that we did the same thing with a number of adult loons about 5 years ago.

But now we will be able to watch the movements of these 20 juveniles.

You can find the interactive map at - http://umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/migratory_birds/loons/migrations.html

Share this link with your children and grandchildren and their teachers. And your entire family and circle of friends.

So far only 2 of the 20 loons have started their migration, although all of them will probably begin to move quickly now that much colder weather is moving in and as their home lakes freeze over.

The next couple weeks should bring a lot of action.

We have had a very mild and beautiful month of October, so there was not much incentive for the juvenile loons to move. But now they will have increasing motivation to start their migration. It will be very interesting to watch to see what they do.

The first juvenile started out way before any of the others. He left his home lake in northern Wisconsin about October 22 and arrived down on the Gulf on October 30th.

The second juvenile left his home lake in Minnesota about October 9th and is now in Mississippi and is still not on the Gulf as of October 30th.

We were up on Gunflint Lake along the Canadian border in the middle of October. On Thursday, October 16th, there were two juvenile loons that swam up to us. I was not too surprised to see the juveniles still on the lake. But then when we were down near the far end of the lake, an adult came swimming up to our boat.

I WAS surprised to see that adult still there. And I assume by now he is well on his way of his migration. Possibly over on Lake Michigan or even already down on the Gulf of Mexico.

Like I said, being gone so much over the last couple months I have not been able to observe our loons here. The last I saw all four of them was on August 20th when I gave you the last report. The next day I left for Alaska.

Then in September, when I got home for a few days I was going to go out to look for them before I left again.

But I never made it out.

I found out that while I had been in Alaska and out West, one of our friendly muskrats had decided to visit the pontoon and chew on the wires! What they find so tasty about electrical wires I will never know.

But they put the pontoon out of commission and I was not able to get out on the lake to observe our loons. So back in for repair it went! the damage was not quite as bad as a few years ago when they really did a number of the wiring. But it was enough to make the pontoon unusable.

So I was not able to observe our loons.

Yesterday I saw one of our faithful followers of the LoonCam who asked when I was going to be able to update you about our loons(sorry about the delay, Mike!).

He mentioned watching the young loons practicing their initial flights. (I was not clear if it was this year or a previous year that he watched them.)

He said that they would take off and fly for a short distance and then land. And then they would take off again.

It takes repeated practice flights to 'get the hang of it' and to build up the strength of their flight muscles in preparation for their long trip down to the Gulf.

This is very much a time of transition.

Not only for people who live in the North Country. As we move from summer to winter and all that means. But also for our loons.

Dramatic changes in scenery and temperatures.

But also a big change in the pace of life and the style of life.

And that is also true of our loons.

Comments or Questions LoonCam@yahoo.com Because of the volume of mail, I will not be able to reply personally. But eventually I will catch up and read all your emails.

Copyright 2014 Larry R Backlund