Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 64
Hurricane Isaias hit the Carolina coast and ripped up the east coast with lots of rain and wind, but little was heard of this as the Corvid-19 virus hit three of our most populated states with more cases, each now more than New York. Deaths from the virus over 160,000 and cases over 4 million. In the area, most have worn their face masks and kept their distance and nothing so far has popped up locally; let us hope it stays that way. The local trails and camping areas are being overused, and some abused with garbage left by campers, as I mentioned last week. If you carry it in, carry it out, and if there is some left by, pick it up. With garbage left around, you are just inviting bears and other critters to come around and I know how much you would like a bear in your tent while you were away.
I have been doing a lot of Loon chasing with fishing line. If you do happen to hook a Loon while fishing, let someone know about it, as we can sometimes catch it. Some Loons locally have worn the fishing lure and line for more than a week; one for two weeks, who was hooked in the wing, then after two weeks turned around and got hooked in the nares on his bill so it was swimming blindly backwards. I looked for this loon the day it was hooked, but never did see it as it could swim and dive and eat ok, except for the white plug stuck in its right wing. This bird was all around First Lake for over two weeks until he got his bill stuck on the other hook of the plug, so he was looking backwards. He was reported over by Soper Point along the south shore, not doing too well. I was just about to go out when Kerry Rogers called, and he had seen the bird by the beach off the Hollywood Road. We went over in his boat and captured this Loon as reported last week.
Then about a week ago, another Loon with a plug and bill wrapped up was reported along the south shore of Fourth Lake. I went out with Russ Haynes looking for this bird, but didn’t find it. We saw some other Loons out in the lake, which was an ocean that day. Then a few days later the same Loon was seen off Eagle Creek and we tried to catch that bird in daylight a couple times, as people would call and say I could pet it out of my kayak or off my pontoon boat, but not while we were out after it. We went out two nights and never saw the bird in the dark. We saw geese and ducks, but no Loon. Then it was reported down by Alger Island and I went out one day, but only saw the pair and two chicks and a couple other single Loons, but none with a plug. Then on Thursday, a couple kayakers and a camp owner cornered the loon on shore and removed the plug and line. This bird had not eaten in over a week and it must have had some infection set in from the wound, as it died Saturday in the bay behind Alger Island. I picked up the dead bird this morning, who had beached on a rock wall as a camp owner watched it die a terrible death yesterday.
I no more than got home and there was an e-mail about another dead loon on First Lake that Bob Diorio found on his beach this morning. I went down and picked this one up. It was a juvenile from one of the three pairs of Loons on the lake that was about seven weeks old and it had been run over by a boat. Its back was ripped open by an outboard propeller and it floated to shore dead.
I know there is a lot more boating and fishing activity on all the lakes this summer, but recreationalists need to be more aware of their surroundings when involved in these activities. Don’t ram through families of loons, ducks or geese with your big power boat or jet ski just to see if they will move; kids can’t fly, and adults will try to protect their young. While fishing, some fish ducks and even puddle ducks and loons might be enticed to grab some bait or lure from a fisherman so watch and make sure none of these are in the area you are fishing. A loon will probably break your line if hooked and there is the problem. If hooked, they twirl their bill and spin the line around it, most times so tight that they can’t eat. They can only go about a week without eating and will die. Even if the hook or plug is taken out, they need some antibiotics, as they get infection from the lure or hook. If you are using lead sinkers, and some still are, if they ingest a lead sinker, it only takes about a week and they break down the lead sinker in their system and they die a horrible death from lead poisoning.
Monarch Butterflies are laying eggs on milkweeds as they travel east and northward, but that’s another story. See ya.
****WARNING! DISTURBING DECEASED LOON IMAGE BELOW!****