SPRING FROM HOT TO COLD TO HOT AGAIN

Many parts of North America have had a different-from-normal spring. Hot way too early and then cold and today back up to 29C here in Muskoka.

The loons came back as usual but there was no sign of nesting here on my lake nor any indication they nested on another lake. Some of you may have watched the Minnesota Bound web cam that has shown a loon pair construct their nest on the same artificial platform they have used the last few years. They laid their eggs, brooded them, hatched one chick and are off rearing that young one for the rest of the summer.

Five years ago I built a very basic nesting platform from a wooden skid. I enclosed several pieces of blue foam insulation inside the skid, put earth and plants on it, a ramp and put it out near where they loons had nested before. All this was done because water levels, controlled by spring runoff and beavers, kept the lake level too high for the loons to use the small islands used previously. They had no interest in the new platform and after a couple of years it was moved to another part of the lake. No interest has ever been taken in it.

Last fall I bought all the parts to replicate the nesting platform used by the Minnesota Bound loons. Sewer pipe, plastic snow fencing, landscape cloth etc. Way too big and heavy for me to build easily so it sits in my driveway partially finished.

Three mornings ago I watched the loon pair go through their routine insepction of the lake and its possible nesting sites. I have described this before as the female spending alot of time trying to figure out if the furniture will fit while the male takes a cursory look to check out the garage and the backyard. This time the female got up on a small island in one of the back areas of the lake. She clucked and cooed, seemingly trying to entice the male to mate. He appeared uninterested and swam off eventually. This was confirmation that they did not have a nest elsewhere and that they might still be in breeding mode.

This morning I got down to the lake a little later than usual and saw the loon pair way down at the other end. By the time I got myself and my kayak launched they were over to one side. Through my camera I could see that they were by the old platform. As far as I know they have paid absolutely no attention to the platform up unitl today. One loon did a beautiful wing flap while the other, the female, climbed up on the platform. I was now close enough to hear her cooing and he, too, got up on the platform and they mated!


This image is highly cropped and taken with my Canon 7D and 100-400 @ 400.

I dare not hope as I have seen this before with no nesting! There is the possibility, though.

After the Wings over Muskoka Festival at the end of May I left for New York state to photograph songbirds with Matthew Studebaker. My main goal was Blackburnian Warblers in Alleghany State Park. Matthew does an excellent job of bringing the warblers in and all the participants have to do is get them in the viewfinder and click the shutter, sort-of. Within the first hour of the first day I had dozens of Blackburnian Warbler images, male and female! Thanks, Matthew!

Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, American Redstarts, Pine, Black-throated Green, Chestnut sided warblers along with a few shots of other warblers, Veery, Red-eyed Vireo made the trip more than worthwhile. Joe, from California, Rejan from Boston and Melissa from Ithica, were all fun to be with and each had their own intersting stories.

I stayed on a day by myself and found this Blue-winged Warbler along with a Veery.

More to come with video of the Veery singing after I get to time to process it.

Three things have concerned me this spring. First, the lack of singing Hermit Thrushes around my place, not seeing more than one nesting Snapping Turtle, and the Vernal Pool versus snowmobile trail problem. I have now heard one Hermit Thrush singing from my property. This morning we saw a Snapping Turtle attempting to nest. The snowmobile group is supposed to clean up the debris and logs out of both vernal pools. It is hoped that some of the frogs and salamanders have survived the dry spring and will be able to breed next year in the restored pools.

Loons mating on the old nesting platform were the best part of my morning today but a doe and beaver put in appearances also. Otters and a muskrat earlier in the week and a Whippoorwill singing outside my window before dawn, were the prelude. These kinds of mornings are the very reason I live where I do.

All images in this post are copyrighted and the property of Eleanor Kee Wellman and may not be used for any purpose without the written permission of the photographer.