A loon trapped on a golf course in the northern Adirondacks got a helping hand from rescuers last week.
Nina Schoch, director of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, said stormy weather during the night of Sunday, May 15, grounded the bird on the Saranac Inn Golf Club property, which is located northwest of Saranac Lake near the St. Regis Canoe Area. Areas of the northern Adirondacks experienced snow and high winds that night.
The bird was initially stuck in a small pond that wasn’t wide enough for the bird to take off in flight. Schoch and state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technicians tried to capture the bird Tuesday night using a boat and spotlight, but were unable to secure the elusive animal in the shallow pond.
“It only had 2 to 3 feet of water in it and was maybe 60 feet across,” Schoch said. “The pond’s so shallow that the electric motor won’t work in there, but the bird could still dive under us.”
However, Wednesday morning DEC wildlife technicians captured the bird after it was found walking on the road that runs through the golf course. To the amazement of the rescuers, the bird had walked up a steep, roughly 15-foot embankment out of the pond.
Schoch transported the bird to nearby Upper Saranac Lake, where it was released onto the water at the state boat launch on Upper Saranac Lake.
The bird appeared to be healthy. It had burn marks from walking a few hundred yards, but Schoch said those would likely heal without incident.
It’s standard practice for wildlife biologists to capture loons at night because it’s easier to get close to them than during the day.
Photos by Mike Lynch. Above, The rescued loon is released on Upper Saranac Lake by Nina Schoch, director of the Center for Loon Conservation, and DEC wildlife technician Connor Cincotta. Below, Cincotta holds the loon as it undergoes tests by Schoch.