Thursday, May 19, 2016 6:16 am CDT

48 degrees F   Clear   Wind Calm

Sunrise   5:38 am CDT     Sunset 8:40 pm CDT


Today promises to be another wonderful Minnesota spring day.

The sun just came up half an hour ago.  There is not a cloud in the sky.  One might say it is 'severe clear'.

The lake once again is like a sheet of glass.

And we have just had a a visit by a loon.   And a sandpiper.

A single loon swam in from the lake just a few minutes after sunrise.  She headed straight for the nest.  Made one loop around the nest.  And then swam straight back out into the lake.

Wailing the entire time.

I assume it was either our female from last year.  Or possibly the female that we banded in 2012.  I was hoping she would get on the nest so that we could see her bands and know for sure who it was.

But she did not even try to get on the nest.

Unfortunately I think it confirms what we have all felt and dreaded.

There is not going to be a pair of loons on the LoonCam nest this year.

Even if they started nesting right now - which I don't think they will do - it would mean that they would be on the nest most of the month of June.  And that is not something that would be fair to any of the neighbors who so graciously give up their use of the lake while the loons are on the nest.

That is the bad news.

The good news is that I was able to go searching for the other pair of loons on the lake.  I had gotten a report from someone who said they had seen them nesting.  This was almost 3 weeks ago.

And I found them.

And confirmed that they are on the nest.

So it is very good news that we do have at least one nesting pair.  And that they have been nesting for sometime and should be nearing hatching soon!

I paddled the canoe back through a cattail marsh.  They were not on the channel where they have nested for several years.

I paddled through an open area and then into some very narrow areas.

No loons.  Only blackbirds and geese loudly scolding me for being in their area.

Then, there it was!

A loon on a nest.  Head down in full hangover position.  Just feet away from me.

I couldn't back up.  So I continued to very slowly and quietly paddle the canoe past the nest.  I was at a dead end in the cattails but I could at least get a little  ways away from him.

He stayed in hangover position.  Almost motionless but with a slight movement of his head watching everything going on.

There was just enough room to turn the canoe around but I did not want to disturb him.  So I sat motionless.

I was so surprised that he had not left the nest as soon as I went by him.  But he stayed.  Watching me.  As I watched him.

After probably 15 minutes, I slowly and quietly turned the canoe around.  Or as quiet as I could.  Some cattails rubbed and squeaked against the side of the canoe.

But yet he stayed put on the nest.  Still in hangover but not alarmed.

The only way out was right past the nest again.  And I did not want to do that.  So I sat and waited and watched.

Gradually he started to relax and raise his head as he realized that I was no threat.

After almost an hour of sitting quietly watching him, he silently slipped off the nest and headed out the way I had come in.  This was my chance to leave quietly and maybe to even see if there were eggs in the nest as I had to pass right by it.

But I had no sooner taken one dip with my paddle than he came back around the corner.

I froze almost in mid-stroke of the paddle and just sat quietly.  

He was not alarmed.  He did not 'turn tail and run'.  He did not get back on the nest.  He simply sat, occasionally peering underwater and made small paddling strokes with his feet.

Then he completely surprised me.

He slowly and calmly swam towards me.  He stopped when he was about 15 feet away.  And then just sat and floated there for maybe 5 minutes.  What a special privilege to be this close to this beautiful white and black bird.  His breast was a brilliant pure white.

Then he swam back toward the nest which was not that far away. 

But he still did not get on the nest.  

He simply floated and preened and once in a while looked underwater.  He was in no hurry to do anything.  Obviously he was very calm and unconcerned.

What a privilege for him to welcome me into his world.  And allow me to be so close.

Then he dove.  But he did not swim away.

From the gentle wake on the surface of the water, I could tell he was headed towards the canoe.  When he was once again maybe 15 feet away, I could clearly see him underwater.  Maybe only a foot beneath the surface.

When he got to within maybe 3 feet of the canoe, I could see him look up at me as he turned and calmly swam away - still underwater, never breaking the surface.

As he made the turn underwater, I could very clearly see the bands on both legs.

It was the male of this pair that we have banded back in 2012!

Now I  knew who he was and could confirm to Kevin Kenow that it was our pair and they had indeed nested.

He surfaced back toward the nest.  But he was still in no hurry to get on the nest.  He simply sat and preened  and occasionally looked underwater and a couple times dove to catch a minnow or a bug.

I still sat motionless and quiet.

I was hoping he would leave so that I could leave.  But he didn't.

After some time, he finally got back up on the nest.  I could not actually see the eggs but he obviously did an 'egg roll' of a couple eggs.

He settle down on the eggs.  Sat for a few minutes. Then up and rolled them again.  Sat.  Then up and rolled them again.

He was no longer in hangover mode of any kind.  

He was relaxed.  Looking around.  Aware of everything going on.  A large eagle flew overhead and that concerned him.  But the eagle didn't stay and he didn't go back into hangover.

I had lost all track of time and I didn't have my watch with me.  But I knew I had been there a long time.

As I said, the only way out was right back by the nest.  Only a couple feet from it.  I didn't want to but I knew I had to do it.  And I knew that he would leave the nest as I came close.

But to my shock, he didn't.  He sat with his head up, not even going into hangover.  He maybe lowered his head a little bit.  But it was almost imperceptible.

I was close enough as I passed by that I could literally easily have reached out and touched him.

And he didn't flinch.  Or show any concern of me being that close.

I slowly and quietly kept moving past him.  But as I was right next to him I quietly said, "Thank you!"

What an unbelievable experience to be that close.  And to be accepted.

It turns out that I had been there with this loon  for over an hour and a half!  But it had gone so quickly.

Those are the special memories that last a lifetime!

So even though we do not have loons nesting on the LoonCam, it is good to know that they are successfully nesting elsewhere.

With the death of the male last summer, we knew that this year was going to be different and interesting.  And that it has been.

Life goes on.

And it is beautiful and wondrous.


Questions or comments?  Email us at LoonCam at yahoo dot com.  Because of the volume of email I will not be able to respond personally to each email.  But I will eventually read every one and for recurring questions I will try to answer them here in this blog.

Copyright 2016    Larry R Backlund