"I happened to notice the Loons swimming close to the edge of the marsh, and thought that unusual, so I turned the scope on them and watched as they kept looking around the edge of the marsh. I soon found out why. The female climbed up on a hummock by the edge of the marsh. The male climbed up behind her soon after, and they proceeded to mate! The male slumped down on her for a few seconds when they were finished, and then climbed slowly back into the water. The female lay there for a couple of minutes, and then climbed back into the water. She caught up to the male who stayed nearby, and they swam very close together for quite awhile after. It was very interesting to watch, and only by luck I saw it."
This observation was relayed to John Cooley at the Loon Preservation Committee who provided some additional information on the fertilization of loon eggs. He said there can be a period of two weeks (or even longer) when loons will copulate repeatedly before the female puts down the eggs. His understanding is that the eggs descend and are laid in the nest within one to three days after fertilization, but it’s a process - the egg and shell have to finish forming and hardening as the egg descends. He's not sure just how long the period is between copulation and when the eggs descend, but he does know of cases where the loons are seen copulating occasionally and climbing on and off the nest for at least 2 weeks before eggs are laid. It is also unknown whether both eggs (loons almost have two eggs) are fertilized with a single copulation, but considering that the two eggs are predictably laid within a day of each other, he guesses that is likely the case.
So perhaps Tom witnessed the dawn of the next generation of Wicwas loons!
I did get my first look at the happy couple, assuming this is the same pair. I haven't heard about a second pair on the lake yet.
The Canada geese are on their nests already. I saw a funny little stick protruding from a hummock in the lake, and as I came nearer, it disappeared. It took a close look with a long lens to see that mother goose was laying low on her nest with head down in the branches, waiting for me to pass by.
|Look at all that soft fluffy down ready to keep new chicks safe and warm|
The water in the lakes is so beautiful and clear this early in the season - before the pollen and then algae and other debris arrive - that you can see far down to the bottom. Here it was really quite shallow, but I could see the genesis of this year's aquatic plant life down on the bottom.
|Lily pads emerging from the bottom of the lake|
Back on land, the cool weather has put a damper on the spring wildflowers as well as all the tree growth. The oaks usually have large blossoms on them by now, but this year they barely have leaves started, and the Trailing arbutus (or mayflower) are still in bloom in late May.
|Shadbush (Downy serviceberry) in bloom on Smith Island|
Is it any wonder the animals think of love in such a beautiful spot?
|A scene that surely encourages romance|