Elusive loons thwart late night banding team’s efforts

Well, I’m still waiting for some hot summer weather with no rain. We were out the other night and our weather guide said there would not be any rain until after 7 a.m.

Well, about 1 a.m. a storm came through that nearly filled the canoe before we got to shore on Clear Pond by Meacham Lake.

I didn’t believe our weatherman so I had my rain suit on, however my lighter and canoe motor operator were not suited up and got pretty wet.

Luckily it was pretty warm that night. It was the first lake we went out on with one to go.

Massawepie Lake was the second one and the stars were out with lots of falling stars.

The night before we dodged t-storms most of the night and sat one out for over two hours in front of the Newcomb School.

We had Herbie the hummer in rehab for over a week after he fell out of a nest off the Petrie Road.

Though he couldn’t fly, it only took a day for him to learn to feed out of a feeder.

Otherwise he was swimming in his dish and needed to have a bath afterward.

We set him out with the hummers that were attracted to the bee balm but they seemed uninterested.

I took him up to Nina Schoch who had some special protein food for hummers. He is doing well, just not flying yet.

I haven’t had any Moose reports this week as I’ve been working the night shift banding Loons.

We caught 17 Loons in six nights of banding and missed a few more that should have been in the net.

Among the count were two recaptured adults from previous years, eight adults, and nine chicks—three of which were big enough to band.

All birds had blood samples drawn for short term testing for mercury contamination. Wing and tail feather samples are taken from adults for long term testing for mercury.

The birds change their blood about every thirty days so the blood samples cover that part but the feathers are a year-long accumulation of pollutants in the adults.

The chicks have only eaten food from the lake they are on so this is a good check on these lakes for mercury.

The females also put some of their pollutants in their egg shells so that’s why we collect the shells and egg sacs from every nest we find to test them for contamination from the females.

For this reason the males are normally more contaminated with mercury that the females.

We started out at Squaw Lake in the Plains a week ago and after hauling all our gear and two canoes down to the lake in the rain we got skunked.

The chicks there were big enough to band, but you can’t band what you don’t catch.

We traveled to Limekiln Lake where we caught the adult male from the island pair that hadn’t been banded before. This was a new sample for us so he got a geo locater attached to his band.

These geo locaters are smaller than your pinky nail and have a battery life of two years.

During that time it will track the movements of the bird.

The bird has to be recaptured and the locater removed and downloaded on a computer.

The second night was visitor night on Sixth Lake as we caught both adults that had never been banded. Both of them got geo locaters.

Then we traveled to Twitchell Lake where the birds talked to us but managed to avoid capture.

Those chicks were big enough to band but could not be found in the waves and fog of the night.

We then traveled to the north bay of Big Moose Lake where we caught only the chick of this pair as the sun rose in the east.

The third night we traveled to Honnedaga Lake. This is a new lake to sample as it has come back after being identified as acid and not supporting fish.

For about three years now it has been supporting fish.

Several studies are being done on the land songbirds in the area as well as the fish and other living things in the lake for mercury, so the loons sampling will add to this study.

We caught the adult male of the pair and a chick big enough to band. The male got a geo locater.

From there we went to South Lake and caught a chick from the first pair and missed the adult male.

We went to the end of the lake and found a pair that would have nothing to do with us.

They have been captured a couple of times so they remembered our light tricks.

I had a shot at a chick that was big enough to band but just plain missed it in three tries.

After that we didn’t see anything but splash dives.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, as daylight again came upon the lake.

More loon nighttime adventures, but that’s another story. See ya.

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