Mid-July: Loons and a Guided Stamp Act Walk

Yes, the lake has loons. The annual loon census counted around 15 loons on the lake although the exact count is not yet available. The counting process is not as easy as you might think as there are a number of observers in different parts of the lake and some of the loons swim from one sector to another over the course of the hour long reporting period. (Yes, there are uncooperative loons!)  Also, over a dozen people were led around Stamp Act Island last weekend and they saw the black gums, the swamps, the eagle nest trees and the old heron swamp. Mosquitoes were also present but generally seemed to respect bug repellent.

The loons nesting in the Heath produced two chicks but only one survived the first few days and it is doing well. One other pair is still nesting on the 22nd of July (which is late) and there may be others nesting as well. The chicks should hatch in another few days from the known nest and we hope two more chicks are added to the total. At one time, the two adults on a nest with eggs seemed to take a vacation from nest sitting. Some humans were worried as the eggs were left unattended but the weather was warm and the eggs shaded from the sun and they adults returned to sit on the eggs. The picture, below, is of these two loons off on their “break” from sitting.

And then, one is back sitting….. Originally, the nest was a out a vertical foot above the water line but then it rained and the water level rose so there was only about 6 inches. There was danger of the nest being flooded but the people running the dam let some water out so the nest was not washed away by waves or the extra rain in the forecast. Yes, people care for the loons benefit.

And they hatched. Make sure you are careful when you see loons not to run over them and stay far enough away that you don’t change their behavior. Gettting cell phone pictures of them that are “good” means you are too close. These photos are taken with a 1200 mm lens and then cropped. 50 yards away at least.

Other birds look sort of like loons but their yellow beak and much thinner neck indicate that this bird is a double crested cormorant. While the loon chicks will have similar color to the cormorants, their head shape is quite different.

A number of people also went on a guided walk on Stamp Act. One of the places that was visited is the most recent nest tree of the bald eagles. After they were not successful last summer, a predator guard was place on the tree so that raccoons couldn’t climb the tree. Unfortunately, for some other reason, there are no eagle chicks this year and may be related to the very strange weather we had in March and early April when they are nesting. While there seemed to be activity near the nest tree when the ice was still safe to travel on, when the lake thawed enough to get out in a boat and see the nest, no eagles were seen.

One interesting tree has burls and a funny formation at its base. One might be able to make out a funny face on this tree, but you might need a good imagination.

Mushrooms were very much in evidence. The dry month of June was not conducive to having mushrooms grow so the wet weather since then has made them grow like crazy. Lots of different kinds were seen but, unfortunately, no one in the group was good at identification so no names were given.

The woods are generally open and with some areas of light undergrowth. One small hiker is seen here crossing the stream that leads from the heron swamp to the lake although at this time of the year, the stream is dried up.

Another hike will occur in August so look at the calendar and for the sign-up procedure if you are interested in going for a guided walk.

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