Loon Watch Report - Fall 2020

The focus of this report is regarding loon activity observed on Hughes Lake*.

Reported sightings on other lakes were not available.

 

Since the end of a very different summer, we see the arrival of shorter days and chilling temperatures. Autumn colours are fast fading. Fall skies quiet and calls from the Canada Geese crossing our skies are scarce at best. The two adult loons we enjoyed to see and hear on Hughes Lake took flight several weeks ago, leaving only the surviving lone baby loon of the two that were hatched this year. He too, however, lost little time in migrating to a warmer climate. We similarly saw but one loon remaining on the lake in 2018 as colder temperatures took hold. These young loons do manage to leave before the lakes freeze but often need extra time to prepare for the long migration south.

The summer of 2020 seemed quieter than other years. Although the Great Blue Heron and the Common Merganser, with her chicks, were observed from afar on several occasions, few others were seen or heard by this bird watcher. Hughes Lake remained very quiet by and large. Previous years saw vast numbers of birds such as Red-headed Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Humming Birds, the Whip-poor-will and Sea Gulls to name but a few. This year tranquility prevailed weekdays when cottagers were away. The lake remained predominantly still with little wildlife activity along the shorelines or in the woods. There were no exceptional sightings. No turtles were observed in the waters of Hughes Lake by this nature lover. The white-tailed deer seemed almost absent, except for one exceptional sighting of three very thin young deer by the shoreline that I was fortunate enough to see. Perhaps GORA members may have experienced something different. I’d enjoy hearing.  

Overall there appears to have been a drop in the number of surviving loon offspring in the past few years of this watch. Studies show that Common Loons will lay no more than two eggs per year. This was the case on Hughes Lake this year and in both 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately only one of the two chicks survived this summer and there were no hatchlings in either 2017 or 2019. In 2018 we saw but a single baby loon over the summer and into the fall.*

Adult loons will usually migrate before their offspring who may still need time to mature. However, by mid-November it is said that most loons will have migrated south. The young loon on Hughes Lake took its leave long before the end of October. In its place we see the occasional sea gull and otter as in previous years.

And so another summer cottage season comes to a close. Here’s hoping that 2020 will bring with it reports of a thriving environment, despite the growing environmental challenges. Special thanks go out to my cottage neighbours who have so kindly continued to share their nature sightings with me. Together we can observe and better monitor wildlife in and around Otter Lake.

 

*There are no detailed reports to indicate how the loons might have fared on other nearby lakes in our vicinity. Please let us know if you might be interested in sharing loon sightings on your lake.

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 rdbourgeau@gmail.com. No contribution is too small.