Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16, 2017 - Annual Loon Census

Yesterday the Loon Preservation Committee held the annual loon census where volunteers all over the state observe and record the loons they see between 8:00 and 9:00 am.  The data is analyzed and compiled to create a picture of the loon population in New Hampshire.  Since the Wicwas loons are nesting late this year, we knew where to find at least one of them.
King (or queen) of his own island

The loon on the nest was somewhat concerned due to several boats in the area, so I kept a safe distance away.
Head lowered means move away before the loon leaves the nest for the safety of the water

What I presume is the mate of the bird on the nest was several hundred yards away and appeared to be keeping an eye a rogue loon, driving it away from the nesting site out towards the center of the lake.  I also saw a loon fly over the lake, circle overhead, and then fly back in the direction from which it came.  Almost an hour later another loon flew in and landed - I don't know if it was the same loon or not.  So over all, my Lake Wicwas Loon count was three on the water, and two flying.  If you are a member of the LPC you will receive the results of the survey;  if not you can join here.

Of course, paddling around on the lake in the morning provides perks beyond loon watching.  I saw two heron fishing beside the Rawson Wood Islands, as a red-winged blackbird serenaded them from its perch high in a shrub over the marsh.
Red-winged blackbirds like to sing from highly visible locations

Right below the blackbird was a pretty Swamp Rose.
Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris)

These are blooming all around the lake; you will find them along much of the shoreline, sometimes with visiting pollinators if you look closely.
Bumble bees pollinate the Swamp Rose

And the heron and loons weren't the only ones fishing - there were several humans out doing the same.
The strike!

The catch

The release
Thanks DC for being a willing subject!

As we watch the loons nesting in this year's selected location off what are known as the "Rawson Wood Islands" it's worth remembering that Mr. Wood conserved these very islands because he was aware they were prime loon nesting territory.  Rawson Wood was dedicated to conservation - did you know he founded the Loon Preservation Committee which is such an important force in protecting loons in New Hampshire?  He also founded the North American Loon Fund and was a director of the National Audubon Society.  It is quite an honor to have an island in Lake Wicwas named for him, and to have his name on the list of generous people who have likewise granted conservation land to ensure Lake Wicwas will be a sanctuary for loons and many other species long into the future.
A Great Egret fishes on the Rawson Wood Islands (photo from June, 2016) 

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