Friday, June 24, 2016 11:49 pm CDT

72 degrees   Partly Cloudy   Wind SE 5 mph

Sunrise   5:26 am CDT     Sunset   9:03 pm CDT


We are now officially into summer.

And the last several days have been spectacular.  Temperatures in the 80s, blue skies and light breezes.

These are the days we dream about in the middle of a Minnesota winter.

We still have loons on the lake and still hear some of their beautiful calls.  But the calls get less and less as the summer goes along.  Especially when the loons do not have chicks and are therefore not nearly as territorial.

But one of the things that has surprised me is the number of 'flying tremolos' that we have been hearing.

A couple nights ago the flying tremolos went on for almost 2 hours.  Why they were flying so much or why they were calling so much, I do not know.  It seems to be more than what I remember hearing before.  But it is a beautiful sound.

As many of you will remember the 'flying tremolo' is similar to the tremolo that loons make when they are alarmed or concerned.  But the flying tremolo does not seem to be an alarm call.  And they seem to make the call only when they are flying.

I cannot even adequately describe the call or how it differs from a regular tremolo.

But whenever I hear it, I know to look to the sky to see if I can see the loon that is calling, rather than looking to the lake.  Once again tonight a single loon called with his flying tremolo as he first circled the lake and then flew off, still calling as his call disappeared into the distance.

As he circled the lake, another loon answered with a wail from down on the lake.

A number of you have asked if the other pair of loons on the lake hatched chicks or not.

I am sorry to say that their nest failed for some reason.  Why, I do not know.

The USGS had asked me to check on the nest again to see if the chicks had hatched.  

When I checked, the loons were not on the nest and there were no eggs.  The cattails had grown enough that I could not get near enough to the nest to see if there were egg fragments.  I did not see the loons around nor did I see any chicks.

I asked other people on this part of the lake to watch to see if they spotted any chicks.

No one has.

So I don't know what happened to the nest.  Did a raccoon or mink get the eggs?  Did the chicks hatch and then were lost for some other reason?  Once again a lot of questions and no answers.

So unfortunately without chicks, we will not be able to recapture these loons and retrieve the data recorders that we put on them several years ago.

But most surprising after verifying that they were not on the nest, that pair of loons showed up here checking out the loon nest.  Or at least the area where it had been.  They actually seemed to be taking some ownership of the area even though there was not a nest for them to use. 

Even tonight there was a single loon that came in very close and just sat there and 'we talked' until a couple passing kayaks convinced him to move further away.

A few days ago an eagle dive bombed one of the loons twice.  Obviously the loon was not a happy camper.

On the second dive bomb, the loon 'stood straight up in the water' with his beak pointed directly at the eagle.  Apparently the eagle thought better of it and moved on.

What all of this tells me is that next spring may be a VERY interesting spring to be sure.

We have the female from the last couple years that definitely has an interest in the nest and shows ownership of it.

Then we have the female from a few years ago who has a new mate who also shows some ownership of the nest.

And now with the other pair of loons on the lake showing interest in the nest as well, we could have some pretty intense competition for which loons will use the nest next year.  This could turn out to be a battle royal!

So we enjoy the loons for the next few months while they are here and we look forward to next year.  Not knowing what it will bring.

But we know it will be interesting and educational.


Copyright 2016   Larry R Backlund