Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 116
Hot days and cool nights, with a few thunder- storms thrown in for good measure, made up the week. It was hard to figure out whether to open the windows to let the cool air in or close the windows and turn on the fans or air conditioner. Then maybe even turn on the furnace for some mornings in August.
We had three more nights of loon banding around the Saranac Lake area, with a few new crew people. The first night started off with some vehicle problems as we headed south from Saranac Lake, and we had to go back to get another vehicle and move all the equipment from one vehicle and canoe to another. Back on the road, we traveled to Bear Pond on the Sabattis Road, where there were two pairs of loons, both with chicks. It is a little tougher to catch loons out of a canoe, but it can be done. Going up Bear Pond, we encountered the first pair that didn’t want to play ball and went from side to side in the narrow lake. We went past them, up to the far end pair, and they didn’t cooperate much better. We did manage to catch a chick for blood and feather sampling, but not big enough to band. A couple dips after the bigger chick in the first territory were misses, so we packed up and left for the next lake. When there are no lights around a lake shoreline, the loons can be very spooked by our lighting and won’t hold on the surface for our lights.
We then traveled to Horseshoe Lake where there was a pair with a chick. They called to us as soon as we were out on the lake and the banded male came right at the canoe and bounced right off the bow with no chance for a dip. It wing-rowed off, never to be seen or heard again. Motor batteries ran down and so did some of our hand lights, but the chick was captured and sampled, but not banded. It was taken back to the adults as the sun rose over the far side of the lake.
The second night was visitor night, which was at Pine Pond, off the Floodwood Road where there was an adult and a chick which didn’t want to be caught and only seen a few times in nearly two hours. The other crew got one shot at the chick and missed. Most of the visitors left and we moved down the road to Middle Pond, where the crew caught a big chick which was big enough to band, but missed the female which was in and out of the net. We picked up a boat while going through Saranac, headed to Lake Colby, where we were on the water about 2am. We found one adult and a big chick at the far end of the lake. Caught the adult first and put that on John’s lap in the boat and then caught the chick. Brought them to the launch, where they were processed and released. Getting to bed early at 4am after putting the batteries on chargers.
The last night, we had two choices: Upper Saint Regis, which had a couple pairs with chicks, or Lake Kushaqua, which had a pair and chick. With thunderstorms in the forecast, we chose Saint Regis. We were only on the water for about ten minutes when we ran for shore as lightning came our way. We stayed under cover for more than an hour as storms rolled through. We had another window to get on the water after we bailed out the boats and found the first pair where I netted a big, banded male. We processed that bird as the other team looked for the female; never did see the chicks. Then we left for the next territory, where we found just a big chick, which I netted. While processing that bird, an adult called not far away. We put the banded chick in the water and made a quick search, but saw no adult. Another storm was coming, so we headed for shore, but the rains came about five minutes from the landing. The other crew had already loaded their boat and had our trailer ready for us, but we got wet unloading the gear and strapping down the boat. It poured all the way back to Saranac Lake, but stopped while we unloaded the trucks and boats.
That ended the seven-day, 9pm to 5am banding job with 14 birds sampled, two banded birds recaptured, three new adults banded, five chicks banded, four others sampled and two little chicks in hand, but not sampled.
Fires still raging out west without much relief in sight, but that’s another story. See ya.
Processing Loons Lake Colby, Cody Sears, Ken Huth and Emily Prosser
Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake