Friday, June 28, 2024

“Catching up” with same loon one year after freeing it from fishing tackle

wood turtle

We had heat and rain this week. Much of this didn’t show on the weather maps as they were just what they called “pop up showers” and a couple of them popped up right on top of me. I was across South Lake where my Loon pair there had lost their nest, and I heard a little thunder in the distance. I didn’t find any eggshells or broken eggs in the bushes, but decided I better get back to the truck or get wet. I just got the canoe on the truck and a gulley washer hit, where we got probably a half inch in half an hour.

I went back over to North Lake, and it hadn’t rained a drop. I stopped by the outlet to watch the Loon pair there with their two chicks. The water was rough, so the pair came right into the bay close to me. The male was fishing and not having any luck…unless he was eating them underwater. When I was there a couple of days ago, there were thousands of polliwogs along the shoreline. The chicks were having a fun time chasing and catching their own dinner in the shallow water, and now it was pouring rain there also.

I had another encounter with the male Loon over on Limekiln Lake. This was the same male that had the bass plug in its mouth and wing last summer. Last summer, Amy Sauer and I caught the male Loon in the bay by the campsite at about 10 p.m. as it was up on the bog mat and not moving. I thought it was dead and then it winked its eye. We cut the hooks off the plug and got the one out of the wing. We then took the Loon down to the house as the hook in the tongue and roof of its mouth needed some more work and light.

We had the Loon on our laps for about half an hour, working on the other hook. He wasn’t fighting us as his energy was spent fighting this plug most of the day. We got the one out of the roof of his mouth, then cut the barb end of the one in his tongue to get that one out. He became a little more aggressive once he had his bite back, but we kept him covered with a towel. We, of course, talked to him the whole time and somehow wildlife knows when you are trying to help them out of the mess they are in.

We took him back up to Limekiln Lake and released him at the boat launch. He went around the point, and I said to Amy, “He is probably going to beach himself.” However, he came back in view about thirty feet out and yodeled at us as if to say thanks. He was back with his mate and their chick two days later, none the worse for wear.

Showy Lady's Slippers

Showy Lady’s Slippers. Photo by Gary Lee.

Well, to continue this story…last week I went all around Limekiln Lake, both territories, and had not seen a Loon or found any nest sites with eggs. I had the canoe on the truck and a Loon wailed right in the bay I had just come from. I wailed back and did some chick calls. I saw the Loon as he came around the point, and I talked to him. He dove and came up right beside the dock. However, being that close, he quickly dove again and came up about fifteen feet from the dock. It was like he had lost his mate, and he was wailing to find her, but she wasn’t answering. We hooted back and forth for about fifteen minutes. It was like he remembered our encounter last summer as he stayed in place, and we communicated in “Loon-talk” this time. It was one of those unique experiences we sometimes have with wildlife as we are out and about.

This week, I did find his mate sitting hidden on a nest in one of the places I checked last week. This is where this pair had their first successful nest two years ago. The Loon pair on Otter Lake have two chicks on the water for almost two weeks now, but I stopped there on my way to South Lake to get the egg chips and rubber-like membrane from their nest site. While looking for the site, I saw the bog at the end of the lake was covered with rose pogonia, grass pink orchids, and several pitcher plant flowers. It was worth the short
paddle from the outlet, and I did find the nest site and collected egg samples.

On one of the return trips from Utica, I stopped at the private Remsen Bog and photographed some Showy Lady’s Slippers from the road of which many were in bloom. On the way driving out, I found a wood turtle trying to cross the road. I don’t see many of these up this way, so I got out and took a photo of it and moved it across the road in its direction of travel.

The rain and hot sunshine have pushed my flowers to new heights, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Wood turtle. Photo by Gary Lee.

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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."

10 Responses

  1. Linda says:

    I’ m pretty new to the Adk- but is that a photo of a loon? Wonderful article.

  2. Heidi Pringle says:

    Lovely article about the loons and the loon rescue! They say to never give locations for orchids.

  3. David Gibson says:

    Thanks for yet another story and unique adventure, Gary Lee. Inspirational, too.

  4. Worth Gretter says:

    Loons, turtles, and rare flowers too! Busy week! Thanks!

  5. Mark Friden says:

    Anybody who loves loons, helps turtles, and appreciates wildflowers is my kind of person! Well done, Gary. Well done!

    P.S. We have rose pogonia, grass pink, and pink shinleaf orchids in an old iron mine near my house. Our collection of pink shinleaf is the largest in New York State.

  6. Richard says:

    Hi Gary,
    I always enjoy your writing. Just a question-how did you know the loon was the same one with the bass plug you helped last year?

  7. John A Hart says:

    A wonderful rescue. Great account. Great the report on the Remsen bog. I think more of these western foot hill bogs are worth discovering and documenting

  8. Mary Ann Simmons says:

    Had never heard about the loon you rescued last summer on Limekiln! So glad you had an encounter with him again this summer, and I’m sure he remembered you!

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