Late summer usually isn’t a busy time for loon work. Not so this season. Labor Day Weekend saw four lake visits on as many loon-breeding lakes. First up in my Saturday marathon I met Anne Covey and the Loon Committee from Douglas Lake to see where they were planning the fourth nesting raft for that Northern Michigan lake. All three current breeding pairs nest on rafts placed by this very organized group of dedicated residents. So, after sighting a few potential nest sites, we chose the location for the next raft which, if Dave Thompson is correct about a fourth possible breeding loon pair, will make a record four nesting loon pairs here.
After disembarking the pontoon at the Douglas Lake Bar, I turned my TW 200 Yamaha south to Burt Lake, where I soon met Dave Hutto to accompany him in his boat to the Bullhead Bay nest site. Here we tethered and towed that nest raft across the bay, where we stored it on shore, near to where it will be installed next season in a reedy bay. A good sign for 2016 was the presence of a loon parent and chick in the vicinity of the planned nest site. The chick was unusually young, suggesting the result of a re-nest from this year, all the more reason for a nesting raft here.
The third leg of this Saturday journey ended at Christina Kasamis’ and Rich’s place on Pickerel Lake, where we toured in kayaks to the site of the new loon raft, where a newly-matured male had died on the nest last spring. After beaching the raft for winter, an effort rewarded by four bee stings to my face and neck–a colony making its (highly successful) nest in the raft center–we paddled to shore to explain to some very vigilant and inquisitive residents why we were messing with their loon nest. Back at Christina’s, Rich aligned several beer brands on an outside table which we shared in the order suggested (mild to strong) and whiled away the close of the afternoon (bee sting effects diminishing in proportion to beer consumed).
Sunday, Christina (my other Christina friend) and I spent about two hours alternately drifting and paddling the circumference of Lancaster Lake (normally a 15 minute paddle), where I’d promised to introduce her to a real and up-close loon family. A promise unfulfilled, for they’d gone for the season, but we spent the time talking of loons, marshes, the effect of sound on living cells, and examining the different species of sedge inhabiting the shallows.