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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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