57 degrees Rain Wind NE 2mph
Sunrise 5:49 am CDT Sunset 8:30 pm CDT
As I write this, it is gently raining.
I knew if I watered the plants on the nest it would bring rain! After I watered the plants the last time, it rained for a week solid.
We are supposed to have rain off and on over the next couple days.
Which is good. We can use it. And especially the fires up north could use a LOT of rain to help firefighters get them under control. It is so sad to see what is happening.
Last Friday night we had smoke that blew in from the fires about 10pm. I have never seen anything like it. It was dense enough that you could barely see the other side of the lake. And the smell of smoke was almost overpowering. It was almost like you were sitting right next to a smoky campfire. And it lasted until Saturday morning.
So far there is not much more news on the loons using the nest. Other than the one time on April 13th, no loons have gotten up on the nest.
But they have not lost total interest in the nest. And I will say a word about that in a minute.
There are still a number of loons on the lake - at least 4 that I know about. Maybe more.
But even without loons on the nest, we have had some drama.
I have already talked about the family of loons with at least 7 goslings was up on the nest last week. And they really looked like they were ready to settle in for the night if not longer. Had they not been chased off, I think they would have stayed at least the night.
But last night we had another visitor. One that I do not think we have ever had in all these years. At least not that I ever saw.
We have had geese. We have had tree swallows. We have had muskrats. We have had beavers.
But last night we had another 'furry creature'.
It definitely was not a muskrat or a beaver, both of which we have in the lake.
I am not 100% sure of what it was. But I have a pretty good guess and I think I am right. But I must say it totally surprised me.
I think it was a mink that was on the nest last night. Yes. A MINK!
Do any of you want a new fur coat?!
It definitely was something in the weasel family.
But it was too big for a weasel. It was too small for a fisher or pine marten. Plus I do not think that most of those would be in the water.
Whereas a mink is fairly comfortable swimming in the water. But I am very surprised that he was this far out in the lake to get up on the nest. That is very surprising.
You can see a video of it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/larrysloonlovers/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxtlvKat3qA Thank you Pam and Lee!
He was very interested in exploring the whole nest for several minutes. But finding nothing (loon eggs) to eat, he left.
Like I said, as far as I know, that is the first time we have had a mink on the nest.
Mink are a great problem for loons that nest on shore. Next to raccoons they are one of the great predators of loon eggs.
Mink can be vicious.
In a battle between a mink and a loon, I do not know who would come out the worse for wear. No doubt the loon would use its very sharp beak to good advantage. But a mink is fast with VERY sharp teeth.
It is a battle that I would not want to see.
Then early this morning we had another goose get up on the nest.
But there was someone else who was watching!
And it wasn't just me!
A couple minutes after 6 am I looked out at the nest and was surprised to see a goose standing on the nest. I did not know how long he had been there.
I went to look for something that I could wave at him to scare him off the nest. I did not want to run out yelling and wake the whole neighborhood up.
But by the time I got something and came out to wave it, he was off the nest. But I saw him in between the nest and the shore.
I got in one wave before I did a double take. It was a loon swimming between the nest and the shore. And the goose was well off to the right, honking indignantly.
When I watched the video, I could see that something caught the goose's attention. He watched carefully. And nervously.
There it was!
A loon surfaced for a split second some distance from the nest and then dove immediately. Heading at full tilt underwater toward the nest! He was moving fast enough that he even left a wake on the surface of the water.
The goose knew what was coming!
With a quick jump and flap of his wings, he left the nest in a panic.
You could just see a flash of white underwater as the loon swam past the nest.
And the goose understood that it was a loon and this was no time to stay on the nest and have a confrontation with a mad loon. So wisely he exited stage left very quickly!
It amazed me how much understanding the goose had even though the loon was underwater.
Videos can be seen at the same two places I gave you before.
Bu there was something else that this confrontation told me.
This loon had a sense of 'ownership' about the nest. And it was not going to let any geese take it over.
Now here in the interesting part.
There was no other loon in the area. There was no mate. I think this is the same single loon that I have seen swim by the nest on several occasions. But I have never seen it try to get up on the nest.
Now let me speculate on who this was. I have no proof of this but only 'educated' guessing.
Since the loon seemed to have 'ownership' of the nest, I think that narrows it down to a loon that has used the nest before.
And that narrows it down to 2 loons.
The female from the last two years.
Or the female that we banded in 2012.
I don't think any other 'random' loon would show a sense of ownership like this loon did this morning.
OK here is further speculation.
There is a good chance that the loon that was on the nest on April 13th and seemed so comfortable and familiar with the nest may have been the female from 2012. We do not have definitive identification from her bands but Kevin Kenow from the USGS ( he was the one who banded all the loons here on Loon Lake) thinks it may very well have been the female we banded in 2012.
But her new mate was not as comfortable with the nest yet and did not ever get up on the nest that I saw.
But the one this morning seems to be single.
There is no way I could see any bands so I cannot say any of this for sure. But I wonder if the loon who threatened the goose this morning with great bodily harm is our female from the last two years.
That would explain why she still feels a sense of ownership yet even though she does not have a new mate yet to replace the male who died last summer.
Let me repeat - this is all speculation on my part.
I have no proof.
But it is an educated guess with some facts and experience behind it.
As usual, once again we are not in control.
We are just fascinated spectators to watch this wonder of nature play out before our eyes.
And greatly blessed spectators at that.
So even if the loons do not use the nest this year, we still have been able to watch and learn from this great drama playing out before our eyes. We will probably have to make a decision in the next few days of how long to leave the nest out and the LoonCam on.
I will let you know as we go along.
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