Loon Watch

 

On Sunday, July 23, 2017, Echo Lake was blessed with the arrival of two loon chicks.

This summer a pair of loons settled in near the Gee property on the west side of the lake on an artificial nesting raft. The nesting raft was installed by Eric Hansen of the Vermont Center for EcoStudies (VCE). Nesting loons face a variety of challenges during their 27-day incubation of eggs. Loon nests are vulnerable to natural or human-induced water level changes that can flood nests or leave them stranded out of reach of parents. Floating nest rafts rise and fall with water levels and help loons cope with these water level changes. Nest rafts also provide alternate nest sites to help loons displaced from traditional sites by shoreline development or recreational use of lakes, and offer protection from raccoons and other scavengers whose populations have increased due to the availability of human refuse.

As it turned out this nesting island provided a challenge of its own.

One of the chicks got its leg caught in the webbing of the artificial nest. The mother loon seemed unaware of her chick’s predicament. A contingent of residents gathered to observe and figure out what to do.  Larry and Lisa Martin coordinated a rescue effort, with Larry distracting the male who tried to defend the chick, while Lisa snuck in to release the chick from the webbing and gently set “the little ball of fluff” on the water. A harrowing day, but a happy ending for all.

 

Echo Lake participates in the Loon Watch Program sponsored by the VCE. One the third Saturday in July of every year, LoonWatch volunteers take to the water to count loons. It’s the single most effective way for VCE to document and track breeding loons across the state. We support their efforts by making a $100 donation each year.

This year 1 nesting pair was spotted.  Loons are very territorial and Echo Lake is big enough to support a single nesting pair.