Loon Watch Summary (Patricia Lindsay)
The focus of this report is primarily on loon activity observed on Hughes Lake, however, other sightings on Little Hughes and Farm Lake reported by GORA members are also included.
As the summer of 2018 comes to a close and vibrant coloured leaves begin to fall, so do other changes begin with the migration of the Canada geese seen in September and the early days of October. Loon activity on Hughes Lake was encouraging this year as we saw the arrival of one baby loon on our shimmering waters. June 2, 2018 serves as this writers’ first recorded sighting of loons on Hughes Lake. What a thrill it was to see the return of two adult loons, first spotted in the inlet of a sunny southern bay. And so another year of bird watching begins!
Loons are recorded as generally having two hatchlings per season. This was the case in 2016 on Hughes Lake, but not this year. It wasn’t until July 27, 2018 that this bird watcher caught her first glimpse of a very small baby loon swimming alongside an adult loon. Sightings continued throughout the summer and into the fall. In late September, the young loon was found to be swimming further and further distances from the adult loon that accompanied it. We now wait to see how long our beloved loon family will remain on the lake before they head south. (A very cold October 26 serves as my last recorded sighting of a lone loon on Hughes Lake.)
Unfortunately, no baby loons were seen on Farm Lake although there were hopes early in the season that a nest might have been made near the shores. This hope was dashed and the lake soon became the preferred gathering spot for large numbers of adult loons. This was the situation on Hughes Lake last year in 2017. It is encouraging to know that the loons did return and that there were so many to be seen on the lake. One observer described the activity as resembling a “big party”!
A fellow cottager from Hughes Lake reported seeing two baby loons with an adult loon on Little Hughes Lake. Hopefully, they thrived and will return to our region when they are able to make the long trek back.
Other species of birds seen on and around the lake include the great blue heron, frequently sited on Hughes Lake. It was seen along the shores throughout the summer and late into the fall. Six common merganser babies and one adult thrived throughout the summer about the lake. It was such a delight to see them maintaining a straight line formation as they swiftly moved across the water. Turtles in a variety of types and sizes were observed in the waters of Hughes Lake. On occasion, deer were seen leaping into the woods. The odd tree frog appeared as if out of nowhere and a wide range of birds were again seen and heard throughout the summer and into the fall. These included such species as hummingbirds, red-headed woodpeckers, whip-poor-wills, robins, cardinals, blue jays, warblers, wild turkeys and sea gulls to name a few. A surprise visitor, a double-crested cormorant*, was sighted on Hughes Lake in late August in a quiet bay leading to the fast moving creek headed for Otter Lake. Finally, on a chilly afternoon on November 4, 2018 an Otter was seen cavorting in the icy waters of Hughes Lake.
This has been quite a cottage season, here’s hoping that 2019 will bring with it more reports of a vigorous environment, despite the climatic challenges we all now must face.
*Identification confirmed by The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Donald and Lillian Stokes
Hughes Lake Road Boat Launch
Thank you to Ray Bourgeau who continues to monitor and maintain the Hughes Lake boat launch and the access road. This is possible because of Ray’s “Just Do It” attitude as well as some financial contributions by Hughes Lake cottagers and GORA/ARGO. If you used the boat launch during this past year and could spare a few dollars to help keep it in good repair, please contact Ray at email@example.com. No contribution is too small.