Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Loon Census

Counting the number of loons on the lake could be an overwhelming task. But if you divide the job up it can be a snap. Our lake association wanted a head count of loons. One reason being a group wants to build loon nests/platforms for next spring and are trying to figure out how many are needed. A side note is loons from our region migrate south toward the gulf area in the Fall. Some dismal predictions are being made that the loon count could be as much as half returning next year due to the oil spill.
A boat ride early in the morning was a nice way to cool off on an already warm muggy morning. We were assigned a certain section of the lake and found that this time might not be the best time to count. It was challenging since several loons were already airborne and it was hard to figure out what area they had flown from or were going to. And when you approached parent loons they dove under with the babies. But in the end managed to get a head count and noted to the organizers census taking in the evening might be better since loons are not so active at that time.
I have a wonderful book called Just Loons by Alan Hutchinson. In the book I found out...
  • Loons have been reported flying more than 60 miles an hour and can fly at altitudes of 1,500 feet or more
  • Loons spend 99% of their life on water. Swimming is natural to young loons. They swim within hours of hatching and begin to dive when only a few days old.
  • The average dive last less than a minute. The maximum time a loon can stay underwater is 3 minutes.
  • Loons winter in coastal waters that do not freeze. Hey!!! that sounds just like humans

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