Tallying results of the Annual Loon Count
Photo credits : Don Yurewicz
Momma loon feeding baby: Photo courtesy of Tom Gross
Please observe these caution signs - they signify loons with a chick are in the area. Please slow down and keep your distance!
LOONS ON Conway Lake
CLCA volunteers work in conjunction with the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) to protect and monitor loons on Conway Lake. When nests are threatened because of water traffic our volunteers place signs to let boaters know they should slow down and avoid creating wakes that could disturb nests at the water line. Once chicks have hatched, we place “Caution: Loon Chicks” signs in chick nursery areas. Young loon chicks are small, dark, and can be difficult to see on the water. They also cannot dive as quickly or deeply to avoid being hit by a boat. Close approach by people in motorboats or canoes/kayaks can severely stress the loons, reduce the ability of loons to care for their chicks, and may result in reduced fitness and/or the death of the chick(s). Boaters should stay at least 100 feet away from loons and loon families to allow them to go about their normal behaviors to care for themselves and their chicks. In addition to signage we continue to monitor the lake for loons in distress and participate in the annual statewide loon count.
Loons arrived early in 2020. The ice went out on April 6th, which is very early, but loons were spotted on open water that very day, one still with winter plumage. Often our home loons come later than the very first sightings as the migrants hop from one feeding spot to the next as the ice retreats northwards.
We had four nesting pairs in 2020. The first was at the Town Beach island, as usual. Ropes and signs were positioned around the island to discourage boaters, but the nest was eventually abandoned with no eggs. We suspect this pair moved onto the Gerson Island nesting spot used in 2018 and 2019. This nest was successful with two eggs, one of which hatched on July 8. The second egg as abandoned and collected for the Loon Preservation Committee to examine. The adults and chick roamed the north shore between Dolloff Cove and Scribner Point and were monitored by Don Yurewicz & Theresa Einhorn, Mike & Susan Wolf, Ace Tarberry, Bill Petry & Tim Keith, and all the Mudgett Shore and Dolloff Cove homeowners. The chick thrived and left for the coast in the fall.
Marble Island had a lot of activity in early May to late June. The island was well marked with orange caution signs but, unfortunately, the Loon pair was unsuccessful and the nest was abandoned.
There were several attempts to nest on the north end of Boynton Island. No egg fragments were found from this year’s nesting although fragments were identified from previous nests on the same spot.
A fourth pair of loons established a nest on the north side of ‘Bug Island’ within the Thorne Islands. Two chicks hatched in early July, but one was lost to a bald eagle that nests nearby. The second chick was doing well until July 30th when it was attacked and injured by a rogue Loon. It was rescued by Tanya Woodall and we rushed it to Kappy Sanger, a wildlife rehabilitator in Bridgeton. Kappy nursed the chick back to good health and it was later transferred to Avian Heaven and eventually released.
The Loon Preservation holds a statewide loon count each year - this year it was held on July 18. We counted eleven adult loons and two chicks for a total of 13 on Conway Lake. The average is about 14 ½ over the past 5 years so we had a typical year. Thanks to all seven teams of observers and counters. Statewide there were 320 loon pairs which was a record number. About two-thirds of all territorial pairs nested and of these 56 percent were successful.
Special thanks go out to Tanya Woodall who protected the two Thorne Island chicks by fighting off the eagles for days and then saved the surviving chick from sure disaster. Thanks also to Ace Tarberry for helping to position and retrieve the loon and chick nesting signs.