Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 61
It has been an on and off week with rain; some days I was mostly in it, but sometimes, I just ducked it. One day, three times. I just got off Francis Lake where I found the adult male Loon with one chick, GPS’d the nest site and raced a black cloud back to shore. Some bass fishermen were just putting in and I told them they were going to get wet and they did. Then I went to Beaver Lake and waited for a black cloud to pass, then went out and found the Loon parents and chick, as another black cloud rolled in. I put up my umbrella and got to shore dry again. I then stopped at Twitchell Lake and took a quick trip up the lake and saw four Loons fishing together and no chicks, when another black cloud was moving in fast. I got back to the dock with enough time to get my stuff out of the canoe and jump in the truck when it came down in buckets. The canoe had a couple inches in it, but I was dry again, just luck three times in one day.
Another day I biked into Little Indian Lake to check the Loons and put up a new sign. I moved lots of stuff out of the trail so the ride back would be easier. Muskrat Creek culvert was washed over by last Fall’s Halloween storm, leaving just a small spot to walk across. I stopped at Muskrat Pond on the way in and found a family of Hooded Mergansers. Sometimes I find Ring-necked Ducks nesting there, but not this year. Checking at Little Indian, I found where the Loons did nest, but lost it to some predator. I GPS’d that site. There was a Black Duck there with five young ones that scurried across the lake ahead of me. I Got off the lake and started back out, but only got to Muskrat Creek when the rains started, which calmed the deerflies down some. The rains brought the efts out of hiding, as they were all over the trail, and I had to watch out for them, as to not run over them with my bike. Luckily, they are orange and easy to see. To say the least, for the next three miles, it was pouring rain, a wet to the skin trip.
The next day it was sunny and my ride into Beaver Lake and Mitchell Ponds was much more pleasant, except for the deerflies, which I think were pedaling the bike sometimes. The Loon pair at Beaver Lake had also lost their nest and they were out fishing together in the middle of the lake. This is the second year they have lost their nest to some predator. High water hasn’t been a factor for Loons losing their nests this year. While going to Beaver Lake, I had to stop and admire the giant triple top white pine that’s right beside the trail. Two others had fallen along the trail, just beyond the big pine, and it’s a good thing they didn’t fall across the trail because I don’t have a saw big enough to cut them out of the trail.
I then biked into Mitchell Ponds where the Loon on the last trip was still sitting on the nest. I saw as I went in where the bear had climbed the large tooth aspen and they were dining on the leaves at the top, as some of the branches were broken off and in the trail. Lots of times, these leaves are covered with ants and aphids, so the bear gets some protein with the veggies. Again, the Loon was still on the nest, but should come off this week as they are on the Upper Pond and that freezes much sooner than the Lower Pond. They could swim over the beaver dam and get into the Lower Pond, if push comes to shove. The last time there was a successful nest on Mitchell Pond was in 1998 when they had a single chick on the Lower Pond off a platform. We banded the female there a couple days after the chick was born and that female was with us for several years. She moved out to Limekiln Lake after losing her mate, found a new mate, and had several successful nests there until we lost her three years ago.
Yesterday was the Loon Census for New York State, which is mostly done on Lakes in the Adirondack Park, but some Loons are now nesting outside the Park. I normally do four lakes in the Moose River Area, but I skipped Little Indian this year, as it is a five-mile bike ride. I started at Squaw Lake this year, at just before eight. The count goes from eight to nine, but I extend the time to cover my lakes. There were five adult Loons on Squaw and no chicks. After a quick visit with my dad, whose remains are there, just to catch up each time I visit. On to Beaver Lake another 2.2-mile bike ride, which I can do in fifteen minutes in and thirteen minutes out, there were two adult Loons fishing out in the middle and no chicks. Then on to Upper Mitchell Pond a 2-mile bike ride where the one Loon was still sitting on the nest and the other Loon was fishing on the pond. I hope this one hatches chicks this week.
Loon banding on a small scale and keeping our distance, but that’s another story. See ya.