Saturday, April 12, 2014 11:40 pm CDT

38 degrees     Cloudy     Calm     Sunrise   6:33am CDT     Sunset   7:55pm CDT

What a difference a week makes!

A week ago Friday, we had just had a major spring snowfall of almost a foot.

But this week, on Wednesday, we hit 70 degrees for the first time.

Snow is losing its battle.

It is trying to hang on, but it is fading fast.  This week was the first time this year that I have been able to walk down to the lake without slogging through snow 2 and 3 feet deep.  And now the only snow left is the remains from the largest drifts and in shaded areas.

Yesterday was the first time that I could get to the loon nest.

There is a lot of work to be done on the nest and it must all happen fast.

A little over a week ago there was a pickup truck driving on the ice.  Today the ice is starting to turn black and there is actually a couple feet of open water around the edge of the lake in some places.

It is interesting to watch the behavior of lake ice in the spring.

One day it is solid and white and covered with snow.

Then after some warm weather or rain, all of a sudden it seems to turn a very dark gray or almost black.

This happens as the ice starts to become very weak and internal areas of it melt and you are left with a sheet of vertical icicles with water in between the "icicles'.  Ice turning black is a sure sign that we are getting close to the ice going out of the lake as it "rots".

You may remember that last year the ice did not go out of the lake until April 30th, the latest that I have ever seen.  The year before it went out on March 18th, one of the earliest ice out dates I have ever seen.

Two extremes of dates in two consecutive years.

So now we can only wait to see when it goes out this year.

Tonight I got an email from Jim Gilbert, a well-known naturalist and phenologist, who told me that he has gotten three reports of loons, one flying as far north as Wadena, Minnesota.  But there have not been any seen or heard around here yet.

But at least we know that some of them are on their way and are trying to come home!

They are probably using open water on rivers to land and feed and then taking 'reconnaissance flights' out to check for more open water or for their home lakes to be ice free.

The forecast for this next week is for colder temperatures and maybe even some more snow.  No big storms are predicted at this point, however.  But high temperatures are only forecast to be in the 40s for all of next week.  That alone will slow down the ice-out date.

But we are getting close.

Close to our beautiful and beloved loons once again gracing us with their presence!

Tell your kids, their teachers and your friends and neighbors to get ready for another season of the LoonCam.  Now is a good time to use Facebook and Twitter.

The loons will be here before we know it.

The LoonCams presence is so fleeting you don't want to miss a day of it.

If you give me your email address at, I will try to let you know when we are about ready to go live.

Copyright 2014   Larry R. Backlund