"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

TIME TO WRITE

I returned to my Blog on October 9.... and have written nothing.  That's not a very good start.  There's just too much in my head.   So now here's a lengthy post explaining how I'm going to post.  LOL.  

I want to write about living on a lake through a winter.  I want to write about sewing and knitting, family and friends, cookouts and boating.  I will make posts of my crafts, with a section about life on the lake below that.  So, you can ditch if you just want to see what I'm sewing or knitting or doing.   

As I thought about our life on the lake, I considered just what it is about living on a lake that made my days complete.  There are so many things, but I will say that #1 on the list is how blessed I felt to be able to live so close to so many of God's creatures, both great and small.  From the hummingbirds that crowd our feeders to the deer we see and hear crashing through the woods, each one of them fills my heart.  The incredible beauty of Wood Ducks, Buffleheads and other migratory birds that stop in on their way south take my breath away.  The grand pine trees that line our property, the tiny lichen that climbs our walls... I am grateful for every living thing that fills our days on the lake.  I'm trying to love the dock spiders, but struggle a bit on that.  Google Dock Spider and you will understand.  

Among all of these creatures that surround us, the one that has captivated me the most is the Common Loon.  When I was very young, my father every summer took us to Togue Pond, at the base of Mount Katahdin.  That is my earliest memory of listening for the calls of the loons in the night.  Some of the happiest times of my life were times when the loons provided the background music in the night.  

My life has been full of camping trips on New England lakes, where the loons call.  Lying in a tent, falling asleep to those calls, are nights I will never forget.  I paddled the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine 6 times, David and I took our kids camping many times, and there they learned of the calls in the night.  So many nights filled with so much peace, I cannot count them.  

How lucky are we, that the lake we are on is occupied by Common Loons.  Not every lake is.  Loons are very particular and extremely territorial.  They need a lot of space, they eat a lot of fish.  Their nesting sites need to be just so, as they cannot really walk.  Our lake, Northwood Lake in NH, has everything a Common Loon requires, and we have two territorial pairs and many visiting loons.  At night before nesting season begins, the calls are constant and unforgettable.  

With the loons on the lake, I made the decision to be a Loon Watcher for the Loon Preservation Committee (www.loon.org).  It is more of an assignment than I ever dreamed it would be, and I've already learned and accomplished more than I ever expected.  As the Loon Watcher for the lake, during my first season (2015) my goal was to meet as many residents as I could, and somehow put together a population of residents committed to the safety and well being of our loons.  So, I went from dock to dock to dock, and as soon as the words "Hi! I am from the Loon Preservation Committee..." popped out of my mouth, I was welcomed with open arms and ice water and great conversations.  This has been one of my favorite parts of being a Loon Watcher.  The people I've met and those that have become fast friends and helpers.  To keep the unification going, I started a newsletter and one by one gathered people's e-mail addresses.   

Those newsletters are what I want to share with you now, as I also share the things I knit and sew.  I hope that my Loon Reports are entertaining and educational.  This is a good way for me to make a permanent collection of them along with some fabulous wildlife photography by Dave.  His best photography is of the 2016 season, after he got a long-range camera from Santa in 2015.  

My first Loon Report came about as the result of an incident on the lake, when on July 4, 2015, a trawling fisherman hooked a loon. The residents involved tried hard to summon help, but could find no one among all of the phone calls they made. Those brave people got a mob of friends in kayaks and got that hook off of that loon and the monofilament line untangled from its torso. I still do not know how they accomplished this, as loons are diving birds and they have beaks that are sabres. Once that loon report got around the lake, I just kept writing.

My first Loon Report, July, 2015. At this time, I had no e-mail addresses, and so the treasurer of our Homeowner's Association sent my report to the Association residents. It was a start:


Dear Lynn Grove Residents,

On July 4th there was an emergency on Northwood Lake involving one of our beloved loons. The people who stepped up to help this loon were unable to receive emergency assistance from outside sources, but were able to rally friends and save this loon, removing a fishing hook from it's back and untangling the fishing line from its body. The loon had been hooked by a fisherman trawling on the lake. Thanks to the measures taken by this group, this loon is fine.

However, this lapse in assistance was unfortunate, as on that very day, the Loon Preservation Committee's Field Biologist for our lake, #######, was on the lake with me, marking the nest on the island. However, the local police department did not have the emergency number for the Loon Preservation Committee, who would have called ### to the rescue of this loon.

We want people to know that the loons on our lake, their habits, and well being are being monitored very closely on a daily basis, by not only the field biologists, but also by two residents of the lake, here in Lynn Grove, who are the Preservation Committee's volunteer loon watchers for Northwood Lake.

If you have any concerns about a loon on the lake, please call our loon watchers, David and Angela Mourer, ######### and ##########. They live at 176 Lynn Grove and are available 24/7 for any calls concerning a loon, and in turn they have 24/7 access to our field biologist. The telephone number for the Loon Preservation Committee is 603-476-5666.

The Loon Preservation Committee has a program called "Get the Lead Out," which encourages all anglers to clean out their tackle boxes, and replace lead sinkers with non-lead. Angela and David have a supply of lead free lures and sinkers, and will gladly supply you with as many as you want, and will also take your lead sinkers for safe disposal. Lead sinkers are the #1 threat to the health and survival of these iconic birds of our New England lakes. Please, Get the Lead Out!
As mentioned above, there is again this year a nest on the Pine Point end of the island. You may have noticed that it is marked with a floating "Loon Sanctuary" sign. Please remain at least 100' away from this nesting site, as stress from too much human interference can cause the failure of a nest. And, when the chicks are hatched towards the end of July, please give the loon family at least 150' of space when you see them. A good set of binoculars is the best way to view the loons' beauty and behavior. The two loon chicks that were hatched last year at this very same site, by the same pair, did not survive. A loon chick faces many predators, let's not allow human behavior to be one of them!

A healthy loon population is an indicator of a healthy lake. Loons will live on lakes that have adequate space for their territories, water clear enough to allow them to easily feed, and clear shore lines that allow space for easy nesting. That we have loons returning to Northwood Lake year after year, tells us that our lake is a healthy one.

If you have acquaintances in other home owner associations on the lake, would you kindly forward this information to them? The Loon Preservation Committee strives to be a visible entity on every lake in New Hampshire. You can help by getting the word out.

If you have any type of questions regarding our loons, please call Angela Mourer at ##########, or pop her an e-mail at mourer.angela@gmail.com


Our Home on the Lake.  We are the last home on the road, and are
surrounded by woods.  It is a fabulous location.  Perched above the
lake, our view is spectacular.
On an evening cruise, we had four loons who were
kind enough to line up in a neat row for a photo.


Our East End Nest, in 2014.  (I do not have a picture of the 2015 nest.)
This nest was set by a pair of loons who have been on our "East" territory
for approximately 15 years.  The male and female are believed to be nearly 25 years old.  They share
the job of tending the eggs, which incubate for 28 days.  The male and female take shifts lasting
around 6 hours.  The cord you see was placed by the Loon Preservation Committee as a high
water control.  Since loons cannot walk, their nests are within just a few feet of the lake.  Loon nests
often fail due to high water.  Two chicks were hatched from this nest, and unfortunately neither
survived.  There are some eyewitness accounts that suggest one was taken by an eagle
and the other was killed by a visiting loon (ya, they do that).  A loon chick has less than a 50% chance
of living to the breeding at of 6-7 years old.
 If I could see this loon's feet, I could tell you if it's the male or female.
The loons of Northwood Lake are all banded, as our lake has an OCD Loon Watcher named
Angela who is reliable and trustworthy, providing the biologists with pages of data every season.
The biologists tend to band the pairs on lakes where they have active, knowledgeable watchers.
It was a true compliment when they came and banded our one unbanded adult during the
summer of 2016..... but that is a story for another day.  







1 comment:

  1. You go, Angela! Even though I already knew some of this, I am impressed with your dedication all over again. The stats on the percentage of loon chicks that have a chance of making it to breeding age is startling. Your lake is fortunate that you moved there, and you will no doubt continue to keep it and the loons thriving as long as you can. It is obviously in your DNA from a very young age.

    ReplyDelete

Some day, I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one, I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done. I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.