GL 240 Loon frozen in OF Pond

Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 240

It is finally white outside but with possible warmer weather with rain and snow coming this week it may not last very long. Last Thursday night the temperature plummeted to near zero with the stars and moon shining bright most of the night long with no wind. All of the lakes in this area froze that night with a coating of ice. Not very thick but they were mostly ice covered. Not enough to walk on and certainly not enough to snowmobile on so check any ice before you travel on any iced over, snow covered lakes.

One juvenile Loon didn’t get the message and thought it would stay the winter in the open waters of Old Forge Pond. Some people saw him out there before dark on Thursday night and come Friday morning the loon was frozen in a small hole off the bathing beach with no place to go. The iced-in Loon was reported to the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation in Saranac Lake. I got a call that afternoon about this Loon and went down to look at the situation. Don Andrews was also called, and he was taking pictures on the scene when I arrived. The loon was about sixty yards from shore in a twelve by six-foot hole in the ice. It was a Juvenile Loon that probably was one of the five chicks raised on First or Second Lakes this summer. The bird was big enough to fly but just forgot to leave as the other chicks did that were born there. I took a few pictures and talked to the Loon with a few hoots. It answered me with a few calls in its juvenile voice. Don had seen it get out of the hole a few times onto the ice for a few feet away from the hole and then get back in. We checked the ice, and it was only a half inch thick, which would not hold a person trying to get out to the hole. Nina Schoch from the Loon Center called, and they were looking at another loon frozen in the ice up near Tupper Lake and they would not be down tonight. So, we were to check on this Loon in the morning and there might be a little more ice to get out to the bird and catch it. Don stayed around taking some more pictures and a video showing the loon trying to take off but failed again. An hour before dark he left his camera and walked down the beach only to see the Loon run across the hole out onto the ice just like it was on water and get airborne. It made a loop in front of Rivett’s Marina and off it went into the wild blue yonder. Where it will find open water in its travels who knows but we didn’t have to catch it. 

Juvenile Loons can do this, but adults don’t seem to be able to get out when frozen in. The adults this time of the year are or should be in the ocean or water to the south that doesn’t freeze. They molt their flight feathers about this time so if they stay around, they can’t fly like adult geese in early summer around here. Some adults lately have stayed too long and they were unable to fly out. Some were trapped in the ice of Lake George and Lake Champlain, and they had to be captured and taken to open water or Bald Eagles would have had them for dinner.

I have a flock of twenty-three turkeys that come each day for some corn. Today I didn’t put the corn out as they didn’t come until late afternoon. Karen sitting in her chair upstairs saw them coming down the ski trail on the run. I didn’t get right out there, and they walked away after cleaning up the fallen bird seed. I went out as they were going up the driveway and called to them like they were my pets. They came running back, half flying on the run, and cleaned up the corn so they went to bed with a little food in their crops. 

I did some more clearing of the debris out of the Moss Lake Trail during the week before the snow came but didn’t get all the way around. Some hikers on the trail said there were a couple small trees across the trail that I didn’t get to. One hill on the north side of the lake had a deep washout right down the middle of the trail as a water bar made at the top had plugged during that last big rainfall. I cleaned out two water bars that were plugged and filled in the washout with stuff from the edges that will make it a smoother ski this winter. Once a Forest Ranger, always a Forest Ranger, after the Indians left Moss Lake, I put in a bridge across the creek by the road where a culvert had washed out so you could make the complete loop around the lake hiking and skiing. It was a horse trail when the kids camp was there and there are some rough spots now but with some more snow it should be skiing and snowshoeing able. 

Coming up from the thirteen to the twenty-one is the annual waterfowl count here in New York State, but that’s another story. See ya. 


Photo above: Loon frozen in Old Forge Pond