Friday, May 6, 2016 8:33 am CDT

62 degrees F   Clear and Sunny   Wind  SW 2 mph

Sunrise   5:53 am CDT     Sunset   8:26 pm CDT


 It is a beautiful, sunny spring morning here in Minnesota.

Or should I say 'summer'?  Because it is supposed to get into the mid-80s today.  Which is more like summer temperatures than spring.

But we will take it.  Finally the wind has died down after several days of non-stop wind.

The lake is like a mirror this morning.

With geese honking and birds singing.  I saw my first new goslings a week ago tonight.  Just before dark a pair of geese came swimming by with two little yellow goslings in tow.  They looked so small I don't think they could have been even a day old.

This was a few days before another pair of geese decided that they wanted to spend the night on the loon nest with their 7 or 8 goslings!

About 11 pm, I checked the cam to see that it was still working.  Not only was it working but it showed the two geese with a whole brood of little geese on the nest.  While the male stood sentry, the female was trying to get all the little geese underneath her.  IT was a full house.

Obviously they were planning to be there for the night or even to take up residence.  That would not do!  This was Loon Territory, not goose territory.

I went down to the lake and quietly started wading out to the nest to chase them away.

How they could see me I don't know because it was so dark on a moonless night I sure could not see them!  I heard a little movement of water before I got out to the nest but I was not sure what it was.  But by the time I got out to the nest, they were gone.

Then I heard a few indignant honks from a short distance away in the dark.  I still could not see them but I knew they were there.

Fortunately they did not try to come back to the nest that night or any night since then.

So it was safely reclaimed for our loons.

Now if the loons would get the message!

There has been very little activity or interest in the nest by the loons on the lake.

A short time ago a single loon came swimming by the nest but did not try to get up on it.  S/he looked as they slowly swam by but that was about it.

As that loon was swimming by this morning, another pair of loons was moving from left to right on your camera view.  But they were almost out in the middle of the lake so there is no way you would have been able to see them on the camera.

They showed no indication of any interest in coming to the nest to check out this 'strange floating thing'.  They simply kept moving left to right, floating and diving and fishing.  And finally out of sight.

It has been disappointing that no loons have yet nested on the platform this year.  But it is not entirely unexpected.

After the loss of the male loon last summer, I knew there was a possibility of that.  But my hope was that another pair would maybe use the nest.  But there was not been any serious interest in the nest by any of the loons on the lake.

There is only one instance of a loon getting on the nest.  And that has been almost a month ago already.

That loon was banded.  And s/he seemed to be very comfortable with the nest.  Like they had been there before!  Kevin Kenow from the USGS thinks it MAY have been the female that we banded in 2012 and who was so unceremoniously displaced in 2014.  And I certainly trust his eyes and experience much more than mine.  But it was too hard to clearly see the bands on the video to be absolutely certain.

It appears that because the loon was so comfortable on the nest during that one visit, it may indicate that she had been there before.  But the mate that was with her was not as comfortable as he excitedly dove over and over while she was on the nest.

Sometimes it just takes time to get used to things.  And to get used to each other if this is a new pair.

But that does not help us now in our desire to see loons on the nest.  And especially to see new chicks that are so impossibly cute.

But time keeps ticking away.  

And it is running short.

A normal behavior pattern for loons seems to be that they will investigate and visit a nest for at least a couple weeks before finally laying eggs.  With the possibility of eggs not being laid for another two weeks, that makes it pretty late in the season for this nest.

I would say that if we have not seen a pair actually nesting within the next few days, it may be time to admit they are not going to use it this year and to begin to pull the nest in.

It is very disappointing but not totally unexpected.  If they do not use the nest this year, this will be only the second time in over 10 years that this nest has not been used.

We/I sometimes forget how special and unique this opportunity to watch loons nesting actually is.  Because of the success of this particular nest for so many years, we tend to take for granted that the loons will be here yet again this year.

I often say each spring 'We have done what we can.  Now it is up to the loons whether they will use the nest.'

And I actually mean that.  But in the back of my mind I still expect that they WILL use it each year.  And am profoundly disappointed when they do not.

Sometimes success brings complacency and unreal expectations.  One of the last statistics  I saw was that floating nesting platforms like this one only get used about 60% of the time.  And until 2013, we were at 100%.

So I guess we should be thankful for what we have and not what we want.

The neighbors have been so wonderfully supportive in being willing to limit their activities and use of the lake in order for the loons to nest.  And I am ever so thankful to them.  All it would take is one neighbor to say that they want/need to use the lake and we would not be able to do this nest.

So I never want to disregard or abuse that wonderful support.  And therefore this is a time limit as to how long the nest can be out in the lake.  If this were on a lake with no other residents, it would be a different matter.  But this is a lake that is fully built up.  And that is very heavily used all summer long.

So we will have to decide in the next few days whether the loons will use the nest this year or whether we will have to pull it in.  

Or I should say the loons will have to decide in the next few days whether they will use the nest this year!


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