54 degrees F Partly Cloudy Wind Calm
Can things get any more bizarre this year than what we have already seen happen?
Well, apparently they can!
Late this afternoon, the loons cam back to the nest with Chick #2.
First the female got up on the nest and sat there. Looking very comfortable. Very much at home. Mewing. Looking like she knew this place well.
The male and the chick swam nearby.
Then the male go up on the nest behind the female and almost looked like he was going to try mating with her. Or was he trying to push her off the nest and say “I want to sit here.”
Meanwhile Chick #2 was swimming around, peeping. The sound that we became so familiar with on Friday night.
Finally the female left the nest and the male loon moved onto the nest and ‘rolled a phantom egg’ and then settled down. He also looked very comfortable. Like he wanted to stay here for a while.
And Chick #2 continued its peeping!
Soon the male finally left the nest as well.
Both adult loons swam around the nest, calling several times. I watched with binoculars and tried to see our chick. I tried to imagine that he was under the wing of the female. But then she dove so I knew the chick was not on her back. She came up with a minnow and swam over towards the nest. But no chick swam out to meet her.
I could still hear the chick but I could not see him.
This was like “deja vu all over again” and I did NOT like it. My level of concern began to rise.
WHERE was Chick #2?
As hard as I looked, I could not see the chick. He did not seem to be with either parent. And I could not see him swimming by himself either.
My level of concern was rising.
I looked on the nest. I could not see him. I looked on the chick ramp. I could not see him.
And while my level of concern was rising, it also seemed like the level of concern of the loons was rising.
I walked down to the dock with the binoculars to see if I could get a closer view and try to spot the chick.
Both loons stayed between me and the nest and seemed to be concerned but not concerned about me being there.
Then did I really see what I thought I saw? I looked and looked and looked. But I could not be sure.
I thought I saw a tiny movement in the same area under the camera. The area where I felt the first chick apparently had gone when he got trapped and wedged in.
Could it be?
COULD IT BE?!
Something that had NEVER happened in 16 years? Could it be that now it was happening for the second time in two days? A little chick getting trapped.
This time there was no waiting.
As you know, I HATE to go out to the nest when the loons are there. In 16 years, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have done it.
But IF the chick was down in that same area, I was not going to wait.
So I hurriedly got in the paddle boat and out I went,
I knew the loons would not be happy. And they were not.
Once again I saw several penguin dances. Hear tremolos. And wails. And even a yodel or two.
But as I got closer to the nest, I could see movement in the area where the wind and waves and storms had washed away nesting material and even part of the foam.
I got up to the nest and there was little Chick #2 trying to get up out of where he had gotten into!
He obviously had also used to chick ramp (which has been in exactly this same place all along and has never been moved) to get up on the nest. But instead of going up to the nest, he also went to the left and fell in the area where material had been washed out over the last month and a half of storms.
Never before had anything like this happened.
But here we were once again. Fortunately the chick had not yet gotten himself stuck in an impossible area.
I reached down and picked him up and put him where the excited loons could see him.
I backed away quickly from the area and returned to shore.
The adults finally swam over to the chick, re-established contact, calmed down and then swam back out into the lake.
Once again my heart was pounding.
But the chick was safe. The chick was with the parents. The parents had calmed down. And all three of them were swimming out into the lake.
I stayed on shore and shook my head over what had just happened.
How? How? How? Why?!
After all the excitement of the last couple days and getting Chick #1 to a place where he could have professional care and answering questions from the news media who showed up, I had not had a chance to go out to the nest.
I waited until the loons were well out into the lake and seemed settled.
Then I went out to the nest and stuffed bubble wrap into every area that a chick could possibly get into. The loons normally do not come back like this or this often. But they did. And this chick would have been stuck as well.
In the remaining few days that the nest would still be in the lake and accessible to the loons, I was NOT going to have this happen again.
But it illustrated how vulnerable things are.
Never has this happened before in all these years. Never have storms washed away so much nesting material pr washed it away in such a way that it opened up areas that could become ‘traps’. NEVER had ONE chick become trapped. Let alone two!
Maybe the good part was the confirmation that the chicks could and did use the chick ramp to get up on the nest. But the bad part of that same thing was that they were up on the nest where they eventually fell into this washed out area.
Well, now that area is stuffed full of material so that the chick cannot fall in there IF they come back again. Which they may not.
My biggest concern out of these two incidents is a concern of whether I have broken the bond of trust that the male loon has seemingly had in me. I hope not. That would be heartbreaking for me. And not good for the loons in the future.
We will have to wait for the verdict on that one.
But tonight the BEST news is we have TWO lively chicks!
One chick with its parents here on the lake.
And the other chick is in the finest of facilities where it can get the best of care to facilitate what will hopefully be his complete recovery.
Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund