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Borrego Springs, CA

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let the loony-ness begin!

Today was my first day this year working on the Minnesota Loon Count.  I set my alarm early (ugh) so I’d be ready to pick up Bridget at 7:00.  These days I’m pretty much a fair weather birder.  It’s rare that you’ll find me up before dawn preparing to go find birds.  I’ve mellowed in that respect over the years.

Goat's Beard

                                                                            Goat’s Beard

Anyway, we headed out in the not so ideal conditions.  The wind was still blowing hard, and the rules of the Loon Count are not to survey lakes if there is enough wind to produce whitecaps.  Believe me, the big lakes had whitecaps on them today.  I’ve been assigned eight lakes and ponds to survey.

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The state of Minnesota has six areas in it that have been designated loon count areas.  In each of these six areas, 100 lakes are surveyed.  You know that Minnesota is ‘The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes’, but each of the chosen survey lakes must be large enough to support at least one pair of nesting loons.  Volunteers go out each year to survey the same lakes and ponds.  The data collected helps determine the health of the breeding population in the state.  I don’t think anyone would want the haunting call of the loon to disappear from Minnesota.  To me, the loon’s call evokes the same feelings of natural wilderness that a howling of a pack of wolves does. 

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   Harebell?? – That’s the nearest ID I could find in my wildflower book, but I’m not confident it is correct.

So, today there were only two of the eight lakes/ponds that we could survey that didn’t have whitecaps on them.  As we pulled up along side the first lake on Teacracker Trail, I spotted one adult loon on the water.  Yahoo!  We got out the scopes and binoculars and spent the next half hour scanning the lake. (the amount of time spent at each lake is determined by its size)  We also count trumpeter swans, grebes, terns, herons, and egrets.  That one lone loon was all that we saw.

Birds-Foot Trefoil

                                                                         Birds-Foot Trefoil

We moved on to the next small lake, and had to bushwhack our way through the woods to find it.  You can bet we loaded up on bug spray before doing that little trek!  Wind or no wind, the mosquitoes were waiting for us along with the deer flies.

I got all excited as we got to a point where we could see the whole lake.  I saw white dots on the water on the far side.  Ha!  When I got my binoculars on them, it turned out they were just the square bobbers used by the Chippewa for catching leeches.  Sad smile  I guess that’s why this is called Teacracker Leech Pond…

We checked out the other six lakes for best locations to do the survey at each one, and noted that we’ll need a pair of loppers to get to one of them.  We need to have all eight places surveyed by next Monday.  That may be a challenge considering the weather forecast and the fact that family starts arriving tomorrow to visit for the holiday weekend.  Maybe I can get my son, Daniel, to do the shrub cutting to get to the one site.  Wouldn’t anyone jump at the chance to help with the Minnesota Loon Count?? 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

25 comments:

  1. I guess that makes you a Loon-a-tic? Couldn't resist... ;c)

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  2. I do miss the sound of loons. I remember having the windows open in my upstairs apartment in Hibbing and hearing loons calling out as they passed overhead in the mornings. It was such a unique, wonderful sound. Yep, I miss 'em and cherish that memory.

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  3. I do Interesting information on the tracking of the loons!like the sounds of the loons too.

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  4. After watching the evening news, I sure hope you are not afloat!

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  5. Mosquitoes - raging in your area of the woods too? And deer flies. Oh my! Funny, they both attack me and I welt up. Leonard never a bite. Wondering why some people are more attractive to biting pesties. And I get you not wanting to get up real early any more. Problem is here it's daylight 20 hours a day and even during those other 4 hours it's still light to me.

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    1. Phyllis,my ex and I were like that, his legs would be covered by skeeters and I wouldnt have a one. some articles say it
      is your body chemistry.

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  6. Mosquitoes, deer flies, and bears, oh my. Sounds like you need to find OZ.

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  7. I don't get bitten by mosquitos as badly as I used to. Maybe Im such a tough old bird they find better folks to bother.

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  8. I sure hope you get to do your count. Loons and wolves equal the wild to me too. I think it is their haunting call. Lovely wildflower pictures.

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  9. I, too, love the call of the loon. I've seen only 1 pair on the small lake near us... never seen any chicks in any of the years we've been here. Guess it would be an easy survey to do.... by the way, we don't have wolves here, but there have been sightings of Canada Lynx.

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  10. Can't say as I have ever heard a loon except in the movies- I guess that needs to go on my bucket list.

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  11. Good luck with your deadlines!!! Thought those ended at retirement!!! Our pair of loons are back on Rolling Stone Lake, and I have not heard them on the little 'thumb print' lake behind our property. The northern part of the state is having problems with the black flies being so pesky that the loons are vacating their nests. Enjoy your family over the 4th!!!

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  12. Love the loon call--hope you get all your chores finished so you can enjoy the family visit!

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  13. Loons are lovely to see, and so serene to hear! I used to find them caught in fishing line and need to go in the water and try to release them. Such good memories! Thanks for bringing them back!

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  14. what do they use the leeches for. . .bait?

    I surely hope I get to see and hear my very first loon when I am in Minnesota.

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  15. Good luck with your loon counting...I am glad Bridgett goes with you. I have never heard loon's call. One day?
    Mountain Harebell or Bellflower is correct. Thank you for identifying the Goat's Beard...I have a beautiful picture of the seed pod glittering in the sun.

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  16. Harebell is what I was going to say, like the comment above. Pretty, aren't they? I admire you, Judy, for tackling Minnesota in the summer, but I sure am glad it ain't me up there playing around with ticks, skeeters, and deer flies. Oh geez, I'd be a mess. I bet Daniel will be thrilled to do the shrub cutting :-). Especially with all those nasty biting insects to keep him company! Otherwise, I'm with ya, kid, loony about loons.

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  17. We are headed to Northern Wisconsin with our family next week, and we see lots of Loons on the Chippewa Flowage..Also, when Den and I went to Prudhoe Bay, we saw an Arctic Loon on the Arctic Ocean...Those are not nearly as black as the Wisconsin ones!

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  18. Love the call of the Loons, hope we hear it again soon.

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  19. Loons immediately remind me of "On Golden Pond".

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  20. Your blog is entertaining and light. I especially enjoy your photos which are gorgeous! Glad I found you in HitchItch.

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  21. Hey Judy...you are getting good on your plant identifications!!!

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  22. Going Loony! Hope the counts are good! Yes I think that is a Harebell...it is for sure some type of Campanula we have several that are native. Harebell has five fused petals and usually downward facing. Great photos of all your wildflowers:)

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  23. When I hear loons calling I know I'm in Gods country....;)

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  24. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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