I’m very sad to report that it has been a difficult week for one of Squam’s loon families. The family that had the two chicks has been dealing with frequent and intense loon intrusions over the past week. During one of these intrusions, one of the chicks was attacked by an intruding loon and it has subsequently disappeared. The remaining chick is hanging on, but the family remains in a tenuous position with these repeated intrusions. I just hope the adults can hold them off and the chick will make it. While this is loons being loons, it is also worth remembering that the frequency and intensity of these intrusions on Squam Lake appears to be related to high rates of human-caused mortality (including deaths from lead fishing tackle ingestion) going back to the early 2000’s. For more information on this, please see pages 10-12 of LPC’s Squam Lake Loon Initiative Progress Report that I emailed to you on July 25th and is also available from LPC’s website (https://www.loon.org/squam-lake-study.php).
Fortunately, the other families and their chicks are doing well! So at this point, there are 3 chicks on Squam Lake and 1 chick on Little Squam.
Loon Preservation Committee was featured on NBC last week! You can view the video clip at https://www.today.com/video/inside-the-mission-to-protect-the-loons-of-new-hampshire-s-lake-winnipesaukee-1302105155607?v=raila. It is wonderful that NBC highlighted loons, efforts of volunteers to protect them, and the work of LPC! Please note, however, that the loons are being approached much too closely by a kayaker on one of the video clips included in the piece. LPC does not in any way condone the close approach of boaters or photographers to loons. We always request that observers stay at least 150′ away from loons (i.e., no-wake distance) and to give the loons more space if they show any sign of stress. Enjoy the video, but please always keep in mind proper etiquette around loons!
Don’t forget about your chance to enjoy a wonderful dinner at The New Woodshed and support loons at the same time! Sunday, Aug. 26th, is “Loon Appreciation Night” at The New Woodshed! See the linked flyer for more information, and please come out and support loons!
This will be my last e-newsletter for the summer. You know what this means-it’s time for the end-of-season Squam Loon Achievement Awards! Please see the P.S. below to see who this year’s winners are! *Thank You* to everyone for your assistance protecting Squam’s loons this summer and educating neighbors and lake users about loons, and to everyone who participated in Loon Chick Watch! You have created a culture of respect for loons on Squam that will allow them to thrive as we all work together to help them overcome the challenges they have been facing. Thank you very much! I will continue checking on the loons through the fall, so please continue to let me know about any reports or concerns, and please report any sick, injured, or dead loons to Loon Preservation Committee (603-476-5666). I will let you know if anything happens to any of the loons through the remainder of the season.
Thank you for a great summer and for your interest in Squam’s loons!
P.S. Fifth Annual “Squam Loon Achievement Awards”: Happy awards season on Squam! It’s time to celebrate what Squam’s loons have all accomplished over the past year! But before we do, let’s pause to remember the loons we lost in the past year: the three chicks who died on Squam Lake this summer, the Little Squam loon who was tangled in fishing line, and the immature loon tangled in fishing line on Squam last fall. These are all very sad losses for Squam’s loon population.
And the winners of the 2018 Squam Loon Achievement Awards are.
Productivity Award: The coveted Productivity Award this year goes to the Kimball Island pair! Kudos to them for hatching the first chicks in this territory since 2007 and producing the first surviving chick since 2002!! I was all ready to celebrate the two chicks they hatched at Kimball in their Productivity Award until the loss of one of their chicks last weekend. While we remember the chick they lost, let’s celebrate what they accomplished and their surviving chick. I hope this chick will be the first of many more from this pair in the coming years! Congratulations to the Kimball pair, and may this family hang in there!!
Oldest Banded Loon Award: The grand old lady of the Squam Lakes is the Five Finger Point female! She was banded as an adult with chicks in 1998 at Five Finger Point. Given that banding studies have shown that loons do not begin nesting on average until they are 6-7 years old, she is at least in her mid-twenties. She was a little late coming back this year and I was starting to worry about her, but it was a happy day when I saw her back again! May she have many more happy returns to Squam Lake!
Pair Together the Longest Award: The Perch Island pair has been together for an impressive 8 years-not successively, mind you, but let’s not quibble over details! The pair was initially banded in 2007 and remained together until 2012. The female was out of the territory in 2013 and, by late summer, was frequently skirmishing with the Little Squam female. She spent 2014 as part of the Piper Cove pair, but was a single again in 2015 and 2016. After the death of the 2016 Perch Island female from a boat collision in late summer, this female made a serious bid to reclaim her place in the territory and succeeded in 2017. She has now been back with her old mate for two years. So it’s not 8 years in succession, but who’s counting those intervening years? OK, maybe I am, but I’m sure they aren’t! Let’s wish the Perch Island pair many more happy years together! Previous winners of this award have been the Dog Cove pair and the Little Squam pair (both at 7 years) and the Long Point pair (6 years).
Best Homebody Award: The Perch Island male has been a steady presence in his territory since he was banded in 2007. While many other loons go roaming the lake in late summer if they don’t have chicks to care for, the Perch Island male seems perfectly content to preen peacefully and just spend time in his territory. Even after a nest failure, when loons frequently vacate a territory for several days at least, the Perch Island male can be found floating near the old nest site. He is one contented loon-and definitely deserving of the Best Homebody Award!
Most Graceful Loon Award: Some of you may remember that, last year, the Mink Island male single-footedly booted 3 eggs off his nest and into the water, earning my first (and hopefully last!) “Klutziest Loon Award.” When I saw the Mink Island male back this year and starting to nest, it began 4 weeks of me holding my breath and wondering, did he recover his grace over the winter? Much to my (and, I’m sure, his mate’s) relief, he actually did-no eggs ended up in the water! So, in honor of him not kicking his eggs into the water, I could not be more pleased to award him the “Most Graceful Loon Award”! Maybe my standards are a little low.oh well!
Most Photogenic Award: The Moon Island pair triggered a truly wonderful image on their nest camera of loon life on Squam, which I have attached to this message. Please enjoy, and celebrate the beauty and wild spirit of loons!
Congratulations to the 2018 winners of the Squam Loon Achievement Awards, and kudos to all the families who produced chicks this year! May we have many more contenders for the Productivity Award next year! Wishing all of Squam’s loons a safe off-season, and we’ll look forward to welcoming them back next year!