After working five all night Loon banding days with a day off in the middle you lose tract of time in there somewhere, mostly sleep. I missed the first night of banding in the Saranac Lake Area as we had a Loon with fishing line down here on Limekiln Lake to catch and release. Got a call from the caretaker at Limekiln Campsite that there was a Loon caught in fishing line seen on the lake. Since it was in the area where the Outlet pair had chicks, I assumed it was one of them and I was right. I got a hold of Amy Sauer to help with the rescue. Last seen in the bay by the boat ramp I got there before dark to see If I could locate the Loon before Amy came. I saw a Loon in the bay, but it swam under water from one side of the bay to the other and I saw no line on this bird. Amy came and we searched with lights around the bay, then started down behind the little Island there.
Amy spotted it on shore in the grass and I said is he still alive and it moved so he was alive but not moving much. It had a fishing plug, one hook stuck in its mouth and the other stuck in its right wing, with line tangled around the right leg. Didn’t need the net, just a towel as he was exhausted from his battle with the plug. We cut the line off his leg, got the treble hook out of his wing. We then cut the other treble hook off the plug that was stuck in his tongue. We took him back to the truck and put him in a crate to seek more help. I knew it was the male of the pair because he was banded. More help wasn’t available, so we had to take out the hook. We cut off one of the treble hooks, then I held the bill open, and Amy got another of the hooks cut off. The third was through the tongue into the roof of its mouth. I came free from there and Amy was able to cut off that third hook. After that it came free from the tongue which was damaged but still intact. We took it back up to Limekiln and released it at the launch. He went out on the water, hooted a couple times and then yodeled five times and swam out of sight. I didn’t find him the next day with the female and chick, and I haven’t had any other reports on him since then.
The day before this happened Karen and I attended the Garden Party at View Arts Center where we received the Founder’s Award from the Board of Directors at View. This was a truly an honor for us and it was a great fund-raising party and celebration that day, thank you all.
I don’t know where the crew went the first night as I was getting the bird above, but they did catch a couple Loons, one was a banded as a chick several years earlier in Mountain View Lake in Franklin County. The second night we went to Mountain View as the pair there had a chick, and we hadn’t tested there in years. This lake is where the Salmon River starts. We met with ECO Jennifer Okonuk who lives on the lake, and she went out with us. We caught both adults and the chick, banded, drew blood and took feathers from the adults and took feathers and blood from the chick which was too small to band. From there we traveled to Clear Pond, down the road a few miles by Meacham Lake. We had a miss on the male there but caught both chicks for testing, working until daylight.
The next night was visitor night at Little Clear Pond by the hatchery. There were about twenty people there to watch us work. The Loons with chicks were at the far arm of the pond a twenty- minute paddle no motors allowed. I went down with Ken Huth as netter and Karli Wood and lighter. We got on the male, and he came right to the canoe and into Ken’s net. We took him all the way back to the landing for processing, passing the other team along the way. Before we finished processing him the other team caught the female and the two little chicks and brought them back. When they were done, we had to take them back to their territory, as there are two other pairs on the lake. The female and chicks got back together not ten feet from our canoe when we released them. From there we picked up the boats and traveled to Upper Saranac Lake, meeting Guy Middleton Manager for the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation. He went with us as he knew where all the Loon pairs were on the lake. We found a few single Loons but no pairs with chicks until the last territory. We caught the male of the pair and a chick. Finished processing them as the sun came up. We saw a couple other pairs with chicks as we came back down the lake in the daylight. That ended the first three days of banding with much good information gathered.
We moved south to Inlet- Old Forge Area for three more nights of banding after a day off but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top courtesy of Don Andrews