When the 2012 nesting season began, and the Round Lake loons got on their nesting raft good and early, I was sure we’d have a fine season and be able to retrieve the Geotag placed on the female’s leg band in 2010. We hoped to get it last year, but the loons abandoned their nesting attempt and capturing loons is best accomplished when loon parents have chicks present.
Well, I was disappointed when the loons repeated last year’s episode by again abandoning their nest after only incubating a few days. After a week passed and I was sure they had given up, I paddled out to their raft (now empty) to see what might be the matter. The only thing I could find that might be the cause was a few zip ties that had become exposed, causing the loons to scrape their bellies over the sharp ends every time they boarded or exited the raft. And loons switch nesting shifts several times a day.
Working on this theory, I returned the next morning and launched a new raft in the opposite corner of the lake’s south end, knowing loons rarely re-nest in the same place their first nest failed. The loon pair shadowed me the entire time I was in their territory; towing the new raft to the old site, scavenging the cement block anchors from the old raft, and towing the whole outfit to the new site. On one hand, I worried they felt offended by my rude invasion of their territory, but on the other hand their close, watchful presence struck me more as job foremen diligently supervising a construction project of extreme importance. Either way, their lingering presence gave me a spark of hope.
Needless to say I was happy to see the loons occupying the new raft two days later, particularly because it was already June 3rd and time was very short indeed to raise chicks in time for them to fledge (fly off the lake) before autumn. As I expected, only one egg was laid, a typical occurrence for a second nest started late in the season. Of secondary importance is the hope that we’ll now have a good chance of retrieving the Geotag to find out where the resident mom spent the winter of 2010.
So, to make a long and wordy article only slightly longer and wordier, I will only say that, whatever the cause of their first nest failure, the loons are still on the new raft after two weeks. The pics here show the two nests in their proper order. Whew……