We are very blessed by a healthy and stable population of Commoon Loons on Northwood Lake. And, the calls of the loons have been a blessing in my life since I was a very little girl. The loons' calls have been the background music to some of the happiest times of my life. So, it seemed to be a natural for me to volunteer for The Loon Preservation Committee. And, so I did.
I volunteered to be a "Loon Watcher," that sounds good, right? Watch loons, all summer? I'm in. Good grief, am I in.
Early in the summer I met Ray, the field biologist for Northwood Lake, and essentially my "boss." Well, it turns out being a Loon Watcher isn't just about watching loons, and Ray got me off and running in this inaugural summer of loon watching. He was a patient teacher and leader, and was not afraid to give me assignments. Put that together with my natural ability to go all in on everything I do and you end up where I am right now, One Loon Short of a Nervous Breakdown
A Loon Watcher.... counts loons, watches for nesting pairs, watches nests, finds failed nests, retrieves parts of nests, retrieves parts of eggs, kayaks into areas where there might be nests, identifies loons on the lake by bobbing in her boat in the hot sun, peering through binoculars for hours on end trying to catch the colors of the bands on a leg, takes calls for emergencies involving a loon. Sometimes an emergency call will have her and her husband sitting in kayaks in the sun for hours in order to stop boats from roaring through a channel where a loon who is part of a pair tending a nest is freaking out by the human activity and has not been able to get back to the nest for 10 hours to give it's mate a break. She will take a chance at getting wiped out by a boat if it means saving a loon and a nest. She will watch a chick through her binoculars, bobbing in her boat for an hour because someone on the lake has told her "the chick is in trouble" (it was molting). A loon watcher also checks a nest every day of it's incubation time, 28 days. Then she checks on the status of the family every day, once it's on the lake 48 hours after the hatching of the second egg, and then she swears out loud when one chick is taken by a snapping turtle, but she carries on, making sure she puts her eyes on the family every day, fending off dopes who do not know that a momma loon is screaming it's brains out at them because it doesn't want them any closer that 50-100 feet. And, that loon watcher gets a lot of one finger salutes, and does not give them back.
That loon watcher also has to watch the two eagles on the lake and wonder just where the family is in that moment, and once in a while she has to watch as the eagle attacks a loon hoping that there is a chick under its wing. And, she is reminded on a daily basis that since this chick was born late (July 25) there is a chance it will not be ready to migrate to the ocean off the lake and will get iced in and need a rescue. And, when the loon family emerges from the cove where the chick has been living for it's first 5 weeks, that loon watcher looks to the middle of the lake where there's a mom, dad, and tiny baby bobbing in the waves, smack dab where the boats will be roaring on the weekend and where the bass fishing tournament boats will be racing during upcoming events. Through her binoculars, she will see that the parents are insinctively allowing the chick to venture away from them as it learns to dive and feed on its own, and when she sees this, she will look to the sky for the eagles and pray that the baby's instinct to dive has kicked in, even at such a young age.
Now, that loon watcher also gets to have fascinating conversations on docks, decks, in boats, with residents of the lake. She receives visits from friends and family, throws cookouts and fishing lines, gets more fresh air than half the people her age, she laughs and smiles and tans and sleeps well at night. People on the lake call her "the loon lady" and that's an honor to her. She learns loon facts going back many years, and hears residents speak of their love of the loons and their calls. She makes friends, she finds helpers, and she writes newsletters that people actually read and enjoy. She receives the support of people who were once strangers. And, somewhere in there, a few cheerleaders show up on the scene to keep her going. And, so she does. And, every evening when the sun goes down, she once again is serenaded by the loons who have brought so much to her life, for so long.
|And, every night that loon watcher is reminded of the Glory of the Lord, |
and she prays for the strength to watch the loons for yet another day, no matter what happens.
|And many times during her inaugural year as a loon watcher,|
a sign of hope and strength shines down upon her and
the loons and people of Northwood Lake.
|And, more times than she can count, she is blessed and awed with|
each siting she has made
during a very long season of the Loon.
(These photos are of the loon family on Northwood Lake.)
|And, perhaps when this chick flies off to winter on the ocean,|
this Loon Watcher will decide that being a Loon Watcher is something she
needs to do every summer of her life.
Once she recovers from her nervous breakdown.
|And, this is all this loon watcher had time to sew this summer.|
That's OK, it's going to be a long winter on the lake.