Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9, 2015

This was a sad week for loon watchers and nature lovers, as we lost one of our new loon chicks.  The details are still to be confirmed by the Loon Preservation Committee, but it appears that a rogue loon on the lake killed the chick.  Here is what we do know based on the observations of the wonderful loon watchers around Lake Wicwas:  There was a wild altercation on Thursday morning between the loon family and a third adult loon.  There was much activity, loud alarm vocalizations, wing rowing, and then the third loon flew off, and only the two adults and one chick were seen.  The family of three however did seem to be acting normally, and were fishing soon thereafter.

A few hours later... a dead chick washed up on the opposite side of the lake;  someone did the difficult job of collecting it and calling the loon committee who came to pick it up.  The initial exam indicated bruising on the upper neck, which is consistent with it being grabbed by an adult loon, but the definitve cause of death won't be known until a necropsy is performed, either at UNH or Tufts University.

This sad story - especially considering how hard so many people work to restore loon populations in New England - is just another reminder of how harsh nature is it.  The instinct to survive and to propagate ones own genes is formidable.  Loons will kill another family's chicks to favor the survival chances for their own offspring, even if they don't have any at the moment.

I think I've mentioned that we've had a third, lone loon on the lake for most of the summer, and it was here this week as well.  The morning after the attack it was right in front of our house, so I went down to speak with it.
Is this the culprit?

I told it to look me in the eye and tell me it wasn't the culprit, but it avoided eye contact, so I just don't know what to think.  I've decided that, unlike Roger Goodell, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it's innocent until proven otherwise.  I'd hate to think we have a killer on the lake!  (But either way, I can't hold it's natural instincts against it....)

So we will watch our one chick and know that its chances for survival are even better now that the parents can give it their undivided attention, but there are still risks aplenty, from eagles to lead fishing tackle to speeding boats.

On a much happier note, the 6th Annual Lake Wicwas Paddle Regatta was held this Saturday, generously hosted by the Caldwell family.
Part of the Wicwas fleet

It was another fabulous day, with perfect weather, delicious food, and great fun by all.

Our host and chef extraordinaire!

The paddle included a short trip to three locations to pick up secret cards with prizes for different combinations of cards.  The attendance was high and included a wide variety of paddle craft, including for the first time, a stand-up-paddle board!

But of course, the barbeque and visiting with friends and neighbors was the highlight of the event.

If you missed it, fear not, next year's event will be just as grand.

I can't end without showing at least one wildlife picture - I saw several of these tiny amphibians this week;  I think they are toads that have just emerged from their watery childhood as tadpoles.  I wonder how many of these little guys will make it past the hundreds of hungry predators on their way to adulthood.
Tiny Toad

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