Watch For Loons

unnamed (5)This is one year to watch out for any loons left on inland lakes. Our lakes are very late in freezing this season and loons have been seen on Crooked, Round, Burt, etc… recently. As these lakes freeze with the coming cold, loons left on them, especially immatures,  might find themselves trapped by closing ice. Adding to this trouble is the fact that, though loons have been molting for some time now, up till now these have been feathers not used for flight. Soon however, loons will molt their flight feathers, which normally occurs after they’ve reached their wintering grounds. Loons that have hung back on inland lakes are in severe danger if this molt occurs before leaving, because then they’re flightless for 6-8 weeks, meaning when the lakes freeze, they’ve nowhere to go. In 2007, 17 loons died on a New Hampshire lake because they stayed too long.

So, as lakes freeze, keep on the lookout for any trapped loons this season. It’s very dangerous to rescue birds on newly frozen ice and partially frozen lakes, so report any stranded loons you see to this site.

OIAS Loon Film Presentation

Grand Haven UCLLast week I traveled to Grand Haven to show my film The Uncommon Loon to the Owashtanong Islands Audubon Society. The Public Library room was filled, and these people were great to talk to. Audience members donated generously to my Loon Buoy Fund and bought nearly all the dozen DVDs I’d brought. Great night. Also, events coordinator, John Mcaree, and I discussed placing loon nesting rafts on a lake or two in the Newago area, hopefully boosting the expansion of Michigan Loons’ southern nesting range.

I arrived early, so to pass the time while the group wrapped up their board meeting, I attended the pumpkin carving demonstration by the Lord of the Gourd, in the hallway outside the room. Amazing talent of Pat Harrison. DSC02015DSC02017

Blue Lake Saga

In early August I got a call from Christine Almose of Kalkaska County’s Blue Lake. She’s worried that her male loon has a hook in its mouth because it’s trailing a long fishing line strand and seems to have difficulty eating. Do I know anyone who can help? I do but they live in the U.P. […]

Filming Dr Timm’s Pipeline 5 Presentation

Dr TimmI’ll be traveling to the Cheboygan Public Library on Wednesday, September 30 to film Dr. Ed Timm’s discussion on Enbridge’s Pipeline 5 that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. Dr. Timm is prepared to show, according to Enbridge’s own figures, why the pipeline is even more corroded than they publicly admit. So what, do you ask, does Pipeline 5 have to do with loons? First of all, a fairly high population summers on the Great Lakes each year. Also, loons nesting inland, yet in proximity to any Great Lakes shoreline (French Farm, Round Lake, etc…), travel back and forth, perhaps several times a day, to feed. An oil spill will have obvious calamitous effects on these birds, and long before any emergency spill response task force can prevent it.

So, please join us, if you can, at the Cheboygan Library at 100 So. Bailey at 6pm this Wednesday. See you there.

Thumb Lake Tour (with cookies!)

Loon with perchA few weeks back, I had the pleasure of being invited to tour Charlevoix County’s Thumb Lake (AKA Lake Louise). Residents Sue and Bob Korte, who’d visited my shop a couple times, were determined to help their loons by providing a stable nest site. Fluctuating water levels offered only a hit-or-miss prospect for a successful nesting season–more miss than hit–forcing these loons to switch nesting sites based on current water levels, and frequently having their nests flooded, scavenged, or having to deal with human traffic and disturbance.

So, during an enjoyable pontoon ride, shared with a few other concerned residents (and cookies made by Sue), we narrowed down the future nest raft site to two possibilities: one, an island site that unfortunately gets frequent visits by people, and a shallow reedy area that, in low water conditions, becomes a tenuous island. The island site sits across a narrow channel that can easily be cordoned off with a buoy at each entrance and, being situated offshore, reduces access to scavengers, and eliminates potential flooding. Residents will also be asked to avoid using the island while nesting is in progress.

I became interested in Thumb Lake a few years ago when I presented my film, The Uncommon Loon, to their lake association meeting one Saturday. We had talked about a nesting raft since then, and I’m finally glad to see Thumb Lake getting one. Many folks here share Sue and Bob’s concern for their loons and I’m confident this breeding pair is in good hands.

My Busy Labor Day Weekend

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 […]

LTC’s New Crooked Lake Property

Ponshewaing Addition mailing map 2The Little Traverse Conservancy is attempting to raise funds to expand the Ponshewaing Nature Preserve, which will place more Crooked Lake shoreline in protected status. The newly successful Rocky Point loon family’s nest raft lies out from one such protected area, as does the Oden Island nest raft, and our third nest raft site for that lake, planned for 2016, will sit along this new acquisition. By clicking here, you can see their fundraiser email, sent out to about 150 Pickerel/Crooked residents.

The Worst Meal

For Sue and Bob, who took me for a nest raft scouting tour around beautiful Thumb Lake this past weekend. I thought I had posted this video here, but I was mistaken. This occurred on a banding mission to Round Lake. Joe Kaplan of Common Coast and I were assisted by lake residents Ron and Lori Pool and Bud Siudara. (Not for the squeamish!)

Blue Lake Chick Banded

These are the pictures from the banding of the Blue Lake chick last Sunday AM. This youngster’s father has a hook in his bill, and attempts to capture and treat it have so far all been unsuccessful. For future reference, this chick wears a silver USFWS band on its left leg, and a 003 red […]

Crooked Lake Loons Update

On the morning of the Crooked River boat race, Brad Hersey and I paddled into the cove where the new loon family had been spending most of their time throughout summer, and found them deep in the safety of their bay, tucked so securely against the weedy shoreline, we had a difficult time picking them […]