Nest Raft Visitors

May 18, 2022

While the loons are settling in to their summer home and before they initiate nesting, now is a good time to enjoy the vast array of neighborhood wildlife likely to show up on the loon cam. The most frequent visitor is the red-winged blackbird. There is a shrubby marshland behind the camera, which is the preferred habitat of this bird. The resident male uses the raft as a perch for singing his “conk-a-ree” song, declaring territorial rights. You can also hear the “check” calls that both sexes make.

The painted turtle is the most common turtle in New Hampshire and you are likely to see as many as a half-dozen sunning themselves on the nearby rocks, as well as on the raft. They will continue to use the raft when the loons are nesting, well out on the edge of the corners in case the nesting loon decides visiting hours are over. The loons are much less tolerant of the snapping turtles, which will occasionally approach the raft. Despite their pugnacious attitude, the snappers pose little threat to the adult loons.

The most frequent nighttime visitor is the muskrat. These semi-aquatic rodents forage for food in the water but they need a dry place for eating. They build eating platforms out of mud and vegetation but they will use any available ready-made platform. Unoccupied nesting rafts make great eating platforms and the muskrats have been known to chew an access hole through the bottom of the raft so they can be more inconspicuous as they come and go. LPC now wraps the raft bottoms in a steel mesh to thwart the muskrat’s penchant for remodeling.

There is a resident osprey pair on this lake and some lucky viewers have witnessed an osprey scooping up a fish and flying off with it. Other visitors include great blue herons, kingfishers, otters, and various waterfowl. The loons will be nesting soon but there is much to see while we wait.