I Learned Something About Loons

You know (don’t you?) that I live on a beautiful lake in Central Maine. We are very fortunate to have a thriving loon population despite the crazy boaters that have caused nests to fail (one year we had two lost eggs on the same nest).

This year, the loon pair nearest to our house had two chicks. They nested on a nesting platform that has been built by our lake association (and is in need of some work). Loons don’t walk on land well. Their legs are located farther back on their bodies than other waterfoul and their bones aren’t hollow like other birds. Loons sit low in the water and are very heavy so nesting is a challenge for them. Regardless, our pair had two eggs and hatched two chicks. We watch them like hawks … and I’m not kidding about that at all. Hawks and eagles and other animals prey on baby loons. They become “my” chicks every year. My neighbors feel the same way.

Two chicks on the adult’s back (photo cottagelife.com)

This year, we have all enjoyed watching the twins with their parents until there was only one twin. My heart was broken that we seemed to have lost one of our sweet chicks. But our local lake tour guy, and a friend of mine who sits on the lake association board of trustees with me, texted me about the “missing” chick that he hadn’t seen for five days. He reached out to another board member who just happens to be our resident nature guy and loon expert. Here’s the skinny …

Feeding the chick (photo birdsoftheworld.org)

Our loon is healthy and well and living in pseudo-captivity for the next few weeks in Massachusetts. And this is the gist of what I’ve learned. There is an organization here in Maine called Biodiversity Research Institute and they’re authorized to move loons (after they’re big enough to feed themselves but before they are able to fly) to Massachusetts to translocate loons in an effort to restore the common loon to an area where they’d disappeared. This is what’s happening to our loon. He or she is helping the loon population to grow in another place. And the BRI program has been very successful over the past several years. This is loon conservation at it’s finest! (Read about the success of the program here!)

More good news … Our remaining loon (and the loon that was translocated) has a significantly better chance of surviving to adulthood. Feeding two chicks is a huge job for the adults. Feeding one chick is a big job. This way, since loons don’t count very well, the adults will be feeding their remaining chick well and they’ll all three be healthier and more prepared calorically for their flight in the near future to the coast. Our loons will winter over in the harbors off the coast of Maine and then in the spring after ice out, our adult pair will return to the lake. The young chick will remain on the ocean for a couple of years before flying “back home” to find a mate. The translocated chick will be fed minnows for a few more weeks and when he/she is ready, will be released on a lake in Massachusetts. That baby loon will fly to the coast from it’s new home in MA. Baby loons navigate “home” based on their first flight.

I am delighted to report that our baby loon is going to be a positive helper in the future wellbeing of the common loon. This kind of program has also helped to bring back Ospreys, Eagles, and other animals. There is currently a program that is working to bring turkeys from Maine to Texas where there used to be a lot of them. (We have tons of them in Maine!)

There you have it! I was so excited that I needed to share.

Gone knitting.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

What a beautiful summer we are having on the lake!

Canadian Tiger Swallowtails were “puddling” in our yarn in June. This is a behavior that butterflies use in dry times to get moisture and some nutrients from wet spots in the yard. This is a small group but they’re sure fun to see!

Water activities include teaching cousin Jack to fish, watching the cousin Lili water follies on the t-rex, off the dock and swinging from the rope swing. Jack caught a beautiful specimen of a yellow perch which he also learned to fillet and cook. We have also had a few loon births now that it’s July. We have two pairs of loons who have had three chicks between them. What a wonderful miracle on our lake. Since loons can’t really walk way up on the shore, they nest very close to the water. We have had several loon nest failures over the past couple of years which means the eggs are washed out of the nest, typically by a boat’s wake. If out of the nest, the egg won’t survive.

The yard is abloom once again. The spring gardens have blossomed and wilted and the summer gardens are coming alive. The planters are planted and we’re starting to see the hydrangeas, hollyhocks and bee balm. We’ve also been enjoying pea season. We have shucked and eaten peas three times so far, in increasing amounts. First, 1 1/2 pounds, next 3 pounds and most recently 5 pounds. They’re so delicious! A Maine tradition starting around July 4th … and served with salmon.

Our hearts are full with wonderful and meaningful new connections and memories with family and dear friends. My aunt and cousins, my college roommate, my first friend, and our dear friends from Florida. Making memories is something we are both striving to do more of. We cherish time together and we honor and appreciate the time and money that our visitors expend in order to be here with us. We are so grateful for the efforts put forth to be here with us. Saying farewell is always difficult. This summer, in particular, all of our visits have ended too soon, leaving us wanting more time together.

I’ve been knitting and teaching and enjoying visitors to my knitting classes and to Yardgoods Center. I finished my Sunset Highway sweater after having to knit the body twice with two different yarns. The first colorway, while I loved it, didn’t look at all well with the colorwork yoke. So, frog it, I did. And re-knit it, I did. I am very happy with the new version and look forward to cooler weather so I can wear it. I’m working on several projects, one of which is the Sage Smudging Scarf for my friend and herbalist. It’s being knit in Manos “Allegria” in this beautiful golden curry or turmeric color. The scarf is a free pattern on Ravelry and there will be details on my Ravelry projects page (lindar). It’s a simple 4-row repeat and in some ways, it’s quite a boring knit but I think it’s going to be gorgeous when it’s blocked. And as the Maine Yarn Cruise continues into July, we are getting lots of fun visitors to the yarn shop. I work two days a week. I had a sibling group from Maine and Sweden who were just meeting for the first time and were sharing their love of yarn and knitting, new Colby College employees getting to know their new community, and so many visitors from all over the state and beyond. My knitting classes are on Friday and I had a very special visitor this past week. Little Piper is the daughter of Larissa. Piper is 8 weeks old now and simply edible! She’s such a sweet little nugget. I love babies and the other women in my classes do, too!

My sweet Littles are getting older and they’re having some health problems and aging challenges. Boq (left) has been diagnosed with heart disease. He’s on two medications for the inflammation and fluid on his lungs as well as a heart medication. We go back for a check up on Wednesday and I’m hoping for a good report. Lola (right) has no teeth left and her eyesight must be failing. She’s much more anxious than she used to be and she’s been barking at first light (um, hello! I don’t need to see 4:45 a.m. almost every day!) I am so grateful to them for helping me through some ugly and difficult life challenges and I hope we can continue to provide them with a safe and happy life for the rest of their days. I made them promise to live forever! (I’m only sort-of kidding!)

We are so blessed with a wonderful, full and healthy life! Gone knitting!