Loon News

When the loons arrived on the lake, they weren’t all seeing eye to eye. It was sometimes more like beak to beak. There just seemed to be a little more tussling than usual this Spring. Plus there was lot of that scooting-around thing they do.

We’ve had loon chicks hatch as early as mid-June. In fact, back several years ago they hatched on Father’s Day, which always seemed sort of a nice coincidence. After all, loon dads do their sitting time on the nest, just like loon moms. And when the chicks are born, both parents work hard to feed the young ones.

We were concerned when we realized that there were no nests on Belly Button Island–the big island in the north part of the lake. Not to worry. One pair set up their nest on the west side of the small island just across from the public launch. And apparently the other pair just stood guard over the five loon nesting buoys at the big island, sort of faking everybody out.

The small island, especially on the west side, is a calm spot on the lake. So, good choice loon. Oh, except we’ve also seen a big snapping turtle laying eggs on the island and worried she’d decide to go after the eggs on one of the rare occasions when the nest was bare. Then, with just those few feet of water between the island and the land, the risk of raccoons, skunks, mink, otters, and fox getting the eggs seems high. In fact, just about everything walking or flying will raid loon nests sometimes, including gulls, ravens, crows, and there’s even some reports of Bald Eagles chowing down. Very worrisome.

But this pair was vigilant.

And, we are pretty sure that it was sometime on July 3rd that the chicks hatched and headed out on the water. Well, first on a parent’s back.

That red-eyed parental stare cuts right to the chase: “These twins can’t dive yet. Do not run them over. If you run them over I know where you live and we’ll be at the end of your dock yodeling all night while your trying to watch Game of Thrones.”

We didn’t applaud their timing. The lake is so busy over Independence Day. But, babies are born when they’re born.

Here’s another first-day photo.

Happily, the twins made it through their first challenging days. Here they are two days later, on July 5th, already looking like their parents are good providers.

By July 8th, the parents were leaving the chicks bobbing around while they both dove for food.

We can’t protect the twins from the big snappers, or the bald eagles or the giant pike or the rest of the hungry things.  But we can be sure they don’t get whacked by a tuber or run over by a PWC. So, let’s all look out for the little fuzzballs! Hopefully, come October, we’ll find out they’ve gotten a good start on Long Lake and are headed south for the winter.

Lookin’ lively

We’ve been seeing Bald Eagles regularly on the lake already this year. This one had been fishing. More likely scrounging.

A tasty morsel, for sure.

And there have been turkeys aplenty this year too. This tom was looking for a date and putting on quite a display.

Even though Bald Eagles may have untidy table manners, I am grateful that Ben Franklin didn’t win the argument about which bird should be our national symbol. Turkeys may be smarter in the bird IQ department. But there’s something about that head and beard that just don’t cut it for me.

A big snapper has been sunning on the small island just across from the public access dock in the lower lake.

If your small boat can make it through the narrow cut-through, watch for the trail of tamped down grass. Snapping turtles and turkeys. Two critters that remind that life is long on this planet earth.

Spring on Long Lake

This was the evening of April 29th. As the sun sunk low, the sky above the tree line was a faint yellowy orange. Then suddenly this color burst out. And the lake echoed the color, spreading it right to the edge of our paddle boat.

The final arbiter of all color descriptions is Crayola. First Yellow-Orange, then Orange, and then a deep beautiful Sunset Orange. The transition hardly took two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Amazing.

And the loons are back. Definitely a pair around what we call Belly Button Island in the north part of the lake. And another pair in the lower lake. There are singles stopping by too. This loon was swimming in the narrows last week.

From the sublime, to the sublime, to…well, the Canada Geese are back. Would someone like to board their dog on our lawn from early June to about mid-August? Golden Retrievers and Labs are especially invited to apply.

Juvie Bald Eagle

We’re getting into the single digits here on Long Lake. And I headed into last summer’s photos to bump up the lake and tone down the knitting for this post.

This summer we saw this juvenile bald eagle a number of times and Steve got some great shots.

We are confident it’s a young bald eagle, but please let me know if you think our ID is off. Here’s another view of his (or her) not-so-national-symbol-looking self.

Bald Eagles take a long time to put their majestic on full display. Between the ages of one and four years they look so little like their parents that they’re sometimes mistaken for Golden Eagles. Their flight feathers and tail feathers are longer than their parents’ and that can make them look even larger than mom or pop.

Juveniles, also called subadults, typically have dark feathers, a dark to dirty yellow bill, with gray to slightly yellow eyes. When a bird is sexually mature, its distinctive bright yellow bill, white head, and yellow eyes appear.

We hope that this young one will make a permanent home on Long Lake.

Finally, the first ice forms

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Here’s Long Lake earlier this first week of December. A bit of snow and not one bit of ice. Not one bit. We could have been out kayaking to Ghost Bay if we wanted to take cold-weather precautions. The latest in the year we’ve been on the water was one Thanksgiving.

But this morning, December 9th, the ice is finally starting to form on the lake’s edges. It’s good to see.

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