Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 115
We finally had four sunny days of summer in a row with cool nights, some of the coldest nighttime temperatures in early August that I can remember. Some of the blackflies thought it was spring all over again, and some even hatched. Up in Newcomb they were all around just like a spring day, not biting yet, but they will.
We worked out of ESF in Newcomb to do our Loon banding for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation for this summer. We traveled far and wide to cover some lakes we hadn’t tested the Loons in in several years. There was quite a range in ages of the chicks, with some being a week old to about nine weeks old. A couple of the older chicks were large enough to band. We started off on Arbutus Lake right at ESF where there was a pair with one big chick. Then we went out with a boat and a canoe for capture but one of the catch nets couldn’t be opened. The canoe called us over since the birds were right by their canoe, but they couldn’t catch them without a net. We caught the chick and gave them our net so they could pursue the adults. The adults didn’t cooperate though, so after banding and releasing the chick we headed for Jabe Pond over by Hague on Lake George, which was a long ride.
There had been an adult female with a silver band on the left leg that was just hanging on, so we wanted to catch it to find out where this bird came from. This pair had two large chicks, so the crew went out in a canoe and were on the birds not far from the landing. They brought back a big chick, which we processed and banded. We decided to try for the female with the silver band that was falling off. They were gone for quite a while and there was a lot of Loon calling going on. We then heard some noise in the canoe but no radio call that they had a bird. We could still see lights, so we knew they were still up right in the canoe, but then they came cruising in. They had the female with the silver band. We tightened her band and gave her some color bands, and then took a little blood and feathers to be tested for mercury. Looking up the band number, we found she was banded as a juvenile chick on Little Moose Lake south of Old Forge in the summer 2011, a great catch as we know she is 10 years old. That ended our night as daylight was breaking in the east.
Night two we traveled to Oxbow Lake down by Piseco on Route 8 where there was a pair with a chick. The pair and chick were at the far west end of the lake, not far from the boat launch. The male came right at the boat. I got him part way into the net, but couldn’t get him in the boat as he climbed out of the net. I gave the net to John Ozard who also got a net shot, but the male who also got out of his net try and wing rowed away from us. The female wouldn’t hold for the light, so we captured the chick for blood and feather sampling, but it was too small for banding. We had enough darkness left so we traveled to Putnam Pond on Route 74, west of Ticonderoga where we hadn’t sampled in quite a while. We used just one boat, which we hadn’t used in the first lake. We found the male who had escaped the net both times earlier on Oxbow Lake. We saw the big chick and female after that, but they both dived, never to be seen or heard from again in the fog that developed. It ended up as only a one chick night, as daylight was coming again.
The third night we traveled to Honnedaga Lake on the ALC where there were two pairs: one with one chick and one with two chicks. The day crew had left our boat there, which we used, and the other crew used a canoe. The sky was clear as we started up one of the largest lakes we survey for Loons. We bumped into an aggressive male as we were going up the lake which I only got part way into the net before he got away. We continued up to the pair at the far end of the lake. They came right to the boat with both two-week old chicks. Trying not to net an adult and chick at the same time, I got the female first into the boat and put it on someone's lap in a towel. Then I got the male and put it on my lap and John picked up the two chicks so as not to leave them on the water alone while we had the adults. We processed the male’s feathers, bands and blood and released him, then did the same with the female and released her with the chicks. They got right back together, and we headed down the lake only to get hit with a downpour about five minutes from the dock. The other crew never saw the other pair.
We traveled to South Lake just down the road where the pair was right off the landing with the chick. The adults wouldn’t hold for the light though, so we picked up the four-week-old chick for sampling, which ended our first three-day banding trips at sunrise.
Three more days of banding and visitor night on night two, but that’s another story. See ya.
Banded Loon coming ashore Jabe Pond with Ken Huth and Keith Grasman
Processing female Loon Honnedaga Lake, Blanche Town, John Ozard and Emily Prosser