Saturday, July 22, 2023

Checking on loons after the recent rain storms

Loon Chicks First Lake Dog Island

We just got lucky with all the rains, and washouts to the east, north and south of us. I had four inches of rain in my gauge when I came home from the west trip, got an inch the next day and then two days later when most of the damage was done to the east of us, I had three and a half inches in the gauge. Where the flooding had occurred, they were getting six to eight inches that day, and with the ground already saturated it just ran off causing washed out roads and bridges. Places that had never had that kind of water problem were under water for a time until it ran off, taking parts of highways with it and flooding homes and businesses.

Long Lake took the brunt of the flooding, but parts of Blue Mountain also had some damage. The little brook that ran out of the big beaver meadow along Route 28N must have had the big beaver dam blow out.  All that water coming down hill into town washed out the road to into town and then the road by Hoss’s Store in town, flooding some homes along the way. Then all that water going into Jennings Pond behind the ball field and hotel was too much for the outlet into Long Lake, so it ran across the road by the seaplane base before the causeway burst on the pond into Long Lake.

In Blue Mountain, the little brook that runs down the highway opposite the Adirondack Experience ran way over its banks and washed-out part of the highway there. Further down the hill it washed down Hemlock Hill Road and into some structures there. Coming toward Raquette Lake,  Loon Brook which crosses the highway at the bottom of Loon Brook Hill on 28 was right up to the highway, washing away material right to the road shoulder. The outlet of Bear Pond crosses 28 by the dam on Utowana Lake and that was right up to the top of that bridge. All that water ran into Raquette Lake raising the water there over a foot and then the water had to run out going down into Long Lake.

Any Loons still on nests in that area would have needed a life raft to keep their nests afloat. Checking my nests up by Number Four on Beaver Lake, I thought for sure that nest would have been under water; but no she sat there high and dry and never added anything to her nest. I talked to Terry Perkins, who lives right on the Stillwater Reservoir that morning, figuring that waterbody would be way above normal, but they never got much of that rainfall there and things were normal. So, if some of the sixteen nesting pairs of Loons were still on nests on the Reservoir they probably survived through these storms.

Limekiln Lake came up over a foot, but the one pair of Loons still nesting on a bog got their chicks off before the water went over their nest. Even the pitcher plants were just sticking out of the water when I collected the egg chips from the Loon nest site. There are several pairs of Loons on the Fulton Chain and many neighboring lakes that have chicks on the water, so give them some room while out boating, canoeing, kayaking or paddle boarding. Some of you paddle boarders and kayakers are so low in the water that boaters have a hard time seeing you. You should have a life jacket on or on board, not back at camp. I’ve dragged a few off the bottom who had their craft get away from them out in the middle and drown. It isn’t a fun day at work when you must grapple hook someone off the bottom of a lake or pond. If you are wearing that life jacket at least you will be found on the surface of the water.

With all the washouts I felt I could cover my Loon lakes for the census by using Pay’s Air Service yesterday morning rather than riding my bike to those locations and paddling around. The morning was very foggy but that lifted just a little after eight. There were three Loons on Seventh Lake right by the Seaplane Base before we took off. We were on Little Indian Lake by 8:15, taxied around the whole lake and saw no loons there.

The water was like glass, and you could have seen a loon from the air swimming on the surface of any lake that morning. Leaving there we went over Muskrat Pond and saw no loons on that pond. There was one there last year. Tom pitched into Muskrat (Squaw) Lake, and we saw the two osprey chicks in the nest with one of the adults. We taxied around the shoreline and only saw one loon down at the east end of the lake. Fishermen have reported only one loon on the lake several times this year. The other loon may have been nesting yet but we didn’t see that.

Sixth Lake Loons
Lifting off of there and we flew over the ridge right on to Beaver Lake. We saw the pair of loons up at the west end but no chicks. Tom said “here comes a big bird…” and a mature Bald Eagle flew by about one hundred feet off the wing tip. Just up in the pond lilies as we made a turn, I saw a chick dive, so they had at least one chick. We left there and flew across the Moose River over Moose River Ridge and looked down on both Mitchell Ponds which were still like glass, but we saw no birds on the water.

Back on the waters of Seventh Lake just after nine with the survey complete. Last year there was a chick on Muskrat Lake and the pair on Beaver Lake were still on the nest and hatch two chicks later in the summer.
Loon Banding this week up in the Saranac Lake area for three days Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then in the Old Forge area for three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Scheduled for visitor night at Sixth Lake Saturday night but nothing is set in stone yet. So, you may see some bright lights on your lakes in the middle of the night. The Martians haven’t invaded but that’s another story.
See ya.

Photo Credit: Don Andrews
Loons feeding chicks – Sixth Lake
Loon with chicks – Dog Island – First Lake

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."




2 Responses

  1. Will says:

    Thanks for the rain and loon survey update. Keep up,the great work. Lois and I keep up with the Almanack

  2. Jeanne says:

    Gary, Thankyou for keeping us all in the loop with the Loons! Great Job!!

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