Sunday, April 29, 2018 11:28 pm CDT

58 degrees F  Clear   Wind 17 mph

Sunrise  6:06 am CDT    Sunset   8:17 pm CDT

Today has been an absolutely gorgeous spring day, even if it has been a little bit windy.

But it has been a day that has brought huge changes.

This morning the entire lake was covered with ice, right up to the shore.

Then the wind started to blow by mid-morning and surprisingly the ice started to move.  The ice is still fairly strong so it resisted being moved easily by the wind.  It is still frozen to the bottom by shore.  But it broke away from that ice some ways out from shore.

But with the strong spring sun and temperatures that today reached 75 degrees, the ice is weakening fast.  What I often call "rotting".   But with the night temperatures below freezing every night, that strengthens the ice each night and delays the rotting of the ice and prevents easy breakup.

But by late afternoon, there was a sliver of open water just out from shore.

I was working on the nesting platform and also building a new 'cart' that I am planning to use to get the nest into and out of the lake.  Age and back problems are taking their toll.  I used to muscle the nest into and out of the lake.  But that has become harder with each passing year.

As I was working on this new cart or trolley, I thought I heard a loon.  I turned to look.  And sure enough.

There was a loon swimming out in front, not too far from where the nest normally is!

I called and he answered.  He called over and over.  I think it is our male from the last several years because he has the little 'crack' at the end of his wail at times.

Once again, he is back the day the ice goes out.  Or even a few days before.  As soon as he has any open water.

You tell me how they do it!

But as of tonight, all is right with the world once again.

Our loons are back!

Or at least one of them is.


Copyright 2018   Larry R Backlund


Wednesday, April 26, 2018 11:04 pm

38 degrees F   Clear   Calm

Sunrise   6:11 am CDT    Sunset   8:13 pm CDT

What a difference a week can make.

One week ago today we were under a ton of new snow that we got in a BLIZZARD that lasted most of the weekend a week ago this last weekend.  We got 15 to 18 inches of snow out of that storm here at "Loon Lake".  Add that to the 6 to 9 inches of snow that we got a week-and-a-half before that and you can get an idea of the depth of snow around here

We have set snow records for April with these snows.  This after a winter where we had no had much snow but had had a lot of cold weather.

So this has been one of the latest springs in some time.

Just this last weekend, at least 50% of the ground or more was still covered in deep snow.

But with warmer weather the last few days, most of our snow is now melted except for a few drifts and still quite a bit of snow down by the lake.  The loon nest is still snowbound but it is melting rapidly the last few days.

The snow on the lake itself is mostly melted but there is still at least a couple feet of ice on the lake.

Sunday night just after sunset, I think - THINK - I saw a loon fly over.  It was dark enough and the bird did not call so I am not 100% sure it was a loon.  But it flew in from the west, circled over the area where the nest normally is and then flew off to the south.  I could not tell for sure but would say that I am 60 or 70% sure it was a loon.

And since it flew over this lake and flew over where the nest normally is, I would have to believe that is was one of "our loons" checking to see if their lake was ice free yet.  But alas it isn't and so they could not stay.

I have heard reports from other people about loon sightings in Minnesota and have even seen a couple of pictures.  So there are loons that are back here in Minnesota and trying to find whatever open water they can.

In 2013 the ice did not go out of the lake until April 30th, the latest that I can ever remember.  We may match or exceed that record this year.

We may get our first 70 degree days this coming weekend along with some rain.  If either one or both of those things happen they will weaken the ice quickly.  But it will still take some time.

So we just have to be patient.

Nature will take the ice out whenever it will.  And the loons will be waiting.

And we will be waiting to see and hear our beautiful loons once again.



Copyright 2108   Larry R Backlund


Saturday, April 14, 2018 6:55 pm CDT

20 degrees F  BLIZZARD

Sunrise  6:30 am CDT    Sunset  7:56 pm CDT



Spring in Minnesota.  What can be better?

Warm temperatures.  Grass growing.  Flowers and trees blooming.  Gentle breezes.  Blue skies.  Even bluer lakes.

And loons calling.

Does it get any better than this?

The short answer is no it doesn't get any better.  The longer answer is that this year we don't have a clue about what spring is!

This is the winter that just won't quit.

We have had several snowstorms in the last few weeks.

But right now we are in the midst of a good old fashioned blizzard.  The wind is howling. And heavy snow is blowing horizontally in front of the windows.

This is a huge snow storm that reaches all the way from Michigan through Wisconsin and Minnesota and South Dakota and Iowa and Nebraska and Colorado down to Kansas.

The Twin Cities is supposed to possibly get 12 to 18 inches of snow and high winds and areas of SW Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska are to get even up to 24 inches of snow.

Being north of the Twin Cities here at 'Loon Lake', we were not in the blizzard warning area and were not supposed to get more than a few inches of snow.  But the snow storm has moved north and we are getting hit and are in the Blizzard Warning area now.  So far I would guess that we have gotten 6 to 8 inches of snow out of the storm already and it is supposed to continue snowing until tomorrow morning.

Needless to say the lake is still firmly frozen.  The ice has not started melting at all yet and with the insulation of this new snow it will be delayed even more.  We have had over 2 feet of ice on the lake this year.  That is a lot of ice to melt.

Once it starts to melt it will probably go fast.  But I think we are in for a very late ice out date this year.

Last year the ice went out on March 8th.  But then the lake refroze and the final ice out date was March 25th.  The year before ice out was march 15th.  But in 2013 the ice did not go out until April 30th.  Will we match that record this year?

Time will tell.

But it certainly is no place for our loons to be here right now! 

I had hoped that most of them were still down on the Gulf or had stopped somewhere well south of here.  But then this afternoon one of the neighbors said they had heard a loon here yesterday.  I hope it wasn't a loon but it very well could be a one that had stopped on open water of the Mississippi River or some other river and was making reconnaissance flights out over the lake looking for open water.

By now for sure our loons have shed their drab gray plumage and are wearing their 'Minnesota finest' - that dramatic black and white plumage that we know and love.

However, for now we will have to wait as a blizzard roars through the area.

But soon it will once again be LOON SEASON!

And we will hear and see our beloved loons.

And all will be right with the world once again.


Copyright 2018  Larry R Backlund


March 21, 2018 10:50pm CDT

32 degrees F  Calm   Cloudy

Sunrise  7:16 am CDT   Sunset  7:27 am CDT


Today is the first full day of spring.

But the loons will not be back anytime soon.

Snow still covers most of the ground.  And the lake is still solidly frozen.  I saw a vehicle driving out there a couple days ago.

It sure is a lot different than it has been the last two years.

Last year, the ice went out on March 9th and in 2016 it went out on March 15th.  Both years there were already plants coming up.  But this year the ground is still frozen.

We are supposed to get 6 to 8 inches of snow tomorrow night.

So if the loons know what is good for them, they will wait for a few weeks before the begin their northward trek.

But before we know it, our beautiful loons will be back again and it will be another season of the LoonCam.

So get some extra rest now so that you won't miss one minute of the excitement with our loons.


Copyright 2018   Larry R Backlund


Thursday, December 7, 2017 2:27 pm CST


19 degrees F   Partly Sunny   Wind 5 mph SW

Sunrise  7:40 am CST    Sunset  4:32 pm CST


I guess we can say that winter is officially here!

Overnight the lake froze over.

This is the 4th time it has frozen over during the last several weeks but each time wind would come up and break up the ice and open the lake again.

But I think this time the ice is here to stay.

Yesterday the lake was almost completely open with some strong winds that blew in a cold front and brought snow and cold.

We had a high temperature of 52 degrees just 3 days ago.  This morning it was down to 3 degrees.  So things have changed.

The weather this fall has been all over the place here at "Loon Lake".  The first half of November was unusually cold and even had some snow.  The lake froze over for the "first time" on November 12th.

Then the second half of the month was warmer than normal.

Even as I write this now there are 20 swans sitting on the ice out in the middle of the lake.  I think they are confused too about how quickly things have changed. 

Yesterday they had almost an entire lake of open water.  Today it is all ice.

About half of them are walking around and the other half are sitting on the ice.  Some of them even have their heads tucked under their wings.  I am not sure if it is to keep warm or if they are sleeping.

But they all seem to be ok.

We have not seen our beloved loons for sometime.

The last time I saw our loons here was on Thursday, October 19th.

There were THREE juvenile loons swimming together.  I assume 2 of them were our LoonCam chicks and the other was probably a juvenile from another lake that was starting to think about migrating south.

The second week in October we spent a few days at the Gunflint Lodge up along the Canadian border.

When we arrived, their on staff naturalist John was just returning from taking a group on a pontoon tour of the lake.  He saw me and came over to tell me that he had seen one adult loon while they were out.  And that loon was starting to molt and was changing its color.  He said you could see the gray along the cheeks and neck of the loon.

As you already know from what we have talked about in the past, loons completely molt their feathers twice a year.  Right now they have already changed or are changing their striking black and white plumage into drab gray plumage for the winter months that they are down south.

And then next spring before they come back north to their home territories they will return to their beautiful black and white plumage.  One of the many miracles of loons.

Another miracle is the three juveniles that I talked about.

The adults leave about a month BEFORE the juveniles on their migration down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Then when the juveniles fly south, somehow miraculously they are able to find their way on their own, having NEVER been down to the Gulf of Mexico before.

It is one of many things that I say "God I don't know how you did it.  But You DONE GOOD!"

I have some other things to share with you.  But I will save them for another time.

On this anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we give thanks for all those who have given so much to keep us free.  Some of whom have given the ultimate sacrifice.

At this very special time of year, I hope that you have a wonderful time with family and friends.  Cherish each day and each minute.  We are never guaranteed more.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Copyright 2017  Larry R Backlund