Michigan Loon Preservation Association: Supporting Michigan Loonwatch: Michigan's Official Statewide Loon Monitoring, Research and Protection Group
Michigan Loonwatch Operates Under the Direction of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Following the Guidelines of the Michigan Loon Recovery Plan

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

State Coordinator's Corner: Wintering Loons in Maine: November 2010

November 23, 2010: From Joanne: Hello Everyone! I am once again in Maine this Autumn for a short stay. I am in Winter Harbor, a small fishing village located on Acadia National Park's Schoodic Peninsula. Every time that I visit here I enjoy walking down to Sand Cove, which is nearby, to see the loon pair that stay here year-round. This cove is their territory. The Atlantic coast off of New England is a major wintering area for loons, and this pair is one of the lucky ones that never need to migrate to get here. They, are, of course, in their winter plumage; and though not as bright as their breeding plumage, still exquisitely beautiful to my eyes.

When I went to see them early in the morning a few days ago, one of the pair was feeding out where the cove widens to the open seas, at the point where the morning mists drifted over the land and the blue-gray waters: the ever-changing ocean, now in its late Autumn cloak. The day was sunny, cold and windy, but the cove was a calmer landscape than out in the open water, and the second loon nearer shore fed lazily in the early morning. He came up closer to me as I stood silently watching from a small hill, as if checking me out, but otherwise seemed unconcerned.

As I watched the birds at their undisturbed early morning feeding, a small duck paddled by, dipping along the shoreline for food. He, too, was unconcerned, going about his daily work. Many gulls swooped overhead, some landing on the water, gathering together in a small rafting group. Overhead, one of the resident Bald Eagles circled; nearby, chickadees chattered as they hopped about in the old, weathered pine. It was a simple and comforting beginning to a good day, filling me with gratitude, and to rest the soul and to know that all is well here. . .the way it should be.

Joanne C. Williams, State Coordinator MLPA-MLW

Friday, July 30, 2010

Loon Release: Wildlife Recovery Association and Michigan Loonwatch: July 14, 2010

Happy Loon Splashing in the Water Following Release

Preparing to Release Loon: Kristy Morris & Joanne Williams
Photos by Barb Rogers

Loon Alert Signs Available

Michigan Loonwatch
has metal Loon Alert signs available for posting at approved areas on loon-territory lakes. These are 12' x 18", lightweight aluminum. They are $45 apiece, including postage and handling. Please contact Michigan Loonwatch, P.O. Box 294, Shepherd MI 48883 or Joanne Williams: 989-828-6019, michiganloons@yahoo.com.

Loons and the Gulf Oil Spill

Loons and the Gulf Oil Spill

By Ross Powers, MLPA Board of Directors

The loss of a few loons in the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is insignificant when compared to other losses. I feel helpless to do anything about the loons or the major disaster taking place, as I watch TV and shudder at the oil soaked birds. It makes me angry.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is huge and growing. It is immediately devastating to the economy and ecology of the area and will impact the rest of us eventually. A way of life and a whole ecosystem is a stake. With our economy already stressed, losing the fisheries and tourist trade in the gulf will hurt everyone. We are interconnected, like the web of life, and the union of states. That is why this is everyone’s problem. I feel sorry for the people that are struggling with this monstrous oil spill, because it is the worst kind of oil and in the worst location.

Surrounded by nature preserves and pristine white sand beaches, there is little chance that it will be carried out to sea with the currents. Wind and waves will transport the floating oil around the Gulf driving it into critical shallows and beaches. The critical near shore areas must be protected. The responding parties know this and are working hard to prevent more damage than what is already done. They need to pray for calm weather with no hurricanes this season.

The Gulf of Mexico, like the Great Lakes basin, is a unique eco-system. It is home and hatchery for everything from shrimp to pelicans. It is a stop-over and resting area for many migratory birds. Some of Michigan’s juvenile loons are there now. They will stay for a few years before returning north to nest as adults. The future breeding stock of our loons is congregating in near-shore areas where the fish and crabs are easy to reach. That is where the wind will be depositing the smothering crude oil. The adult loons are safe in Michigan until fall, when they, as well as this season’s young, will either be lucky and choose to overwinter on the Atlantic or unlucky and choose the Gulf.

Crude oil is a killer loaded with all kinds of solvents and ”light ends” that taint fish and invertebrates with a taste and odor that will last their whole life. What is not smothered, spoiled or tainted by the crude will be unfit for consumption. Contact with the sticky tar-like oil is usually fatal to waterfowl and waterbirds with only 50% of the rescued and cleaned wildlife surviving. Most critters will die unnoticed in the goo and never be rescued or counted. Plants, oysters, and crabs are not able to flee and are sure to be killed.

Ocean waves act as giant mixers to force tainting solvents into the water and leave behind thick globs of foamy oil on the beaches. The surfacing heavy crude oil has a lot of pollutants to deliver to the air and water before it plops on shore. The high pressure undersea fountain that is injecting gas and oil droplets into the water at the bottom of the ocean will pollute a mile of water as it rises to the surface. The polluted water can become trapped in thermal layers and transported by undersea currents to impact large areas of the ocean. Dispersants are not needed. Natural bio-degradation will eventually handle the diluted petroleum, IF the thick masses of oil are removed. It remains to be seen what damage this pollution event will cause to the ecology of the Gulf. A lot will depend on the weather, with wind having a major influence.
Remember the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”? They were not.

As a retired environmentalist, I worked on many oil spills and know that you can’t prevent them, but you can prepare for them. Responsible oil companies have spill prevention plans that include contingencies for worst case scenarios. Immediate response with proper equipment is required to contain and clean up an oil spill. It is obvious that in this case, regulators let them avoid keeping these resources ready and available. It makes me angry. This tragedy affects us all.

MLPA is the only organization that is tracking the population fluctuations of the Common Loon in Michigan. That is why it is important to continue these population counts. I feel sorry for all the Loon Rangers that worried over young chicks all these years, only to realize that they are in danger in the Gulf. When the next generation of Michigan loons migrates out of our area of influence, we must trust that Nature will prevail over the folly of man. We can only hope for the best and count the returning pairs in the spring. Yes, we could use your help. To volunteer to help protect Michigan’s loons and to assess the damage to our loon population during this crisis, contact: Michigan Loonwatch, P.O. Box 294, Shepherd MI 48883, michiganloons@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Reported Loon Sighting: Spring 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010: We're glad to report our first Spring loon sighting! The loon pair has arrived on their territorial Mecosta County lake; coming in as soon as the ice was out. We are happy to be starting to welcome our beautiful Michigan loons back home!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tremolos: February 2010

News Page from
Michigan Loonwatch -
Michigan Loon Preservation Association
February 2010
“First Year: Summer's End” by Clay Wilton

A Very Good Year Ahead!

As MLPA moves out more independently from its long-time affiliation with Michigan Audubon Society, we find that our work becomes even more exciting, the support for our group and our work is strengthening and growing, and we are looking forward to a full and rewarding season ahead. Our Michigan Loonwatch program continues to expand with more and more concerned and dedicated citizens taking on the role of Loon Ranger. As we begin preparations for the return of the loons to our northern waters, we are once again hoping for a successful year for the loon families that will grace our lakes this coming summer.
Michigan Loonwatch: an Overview

Michigan Loonwatch is the loon management, protection and registry program of the Michigan Loon Preservation Association, operating under the direction of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and following the Michigan Loon Recovery Plan.

Each year since 1986, our Loon Rangers have monitored and protected Michigan’s loons on a day-to-day basis throughout the state. It is the oldest loon program in the state and Michigan’s only loon-oriented program providing statewide monitoring, protection and educational outreach on the loons’ behalf.

Our Loon Rangers work with state and federal agencies, as well as with other groups and citizens in the efforts for Michigan’s loons and other wildlife and habitat. Each year, the Rangers return reports to us that detail the loons’ activities and also provide statistics that help us to understand the population trends as well as how the birds are faring on particular lakes and throughout the state. This enables us to better know their needs and how to focus our efforts to protect and preserve this natural treasure.
Joanne C. Williams, State Coordinator MLW, MLPA
2009 Preliminary Lake Reports
MI Loonwatch 2009 preliminary statistics reported through 2-23-2010, to be updated as additional reports are received:**

Loon Pairs: 138
Nests This Year: 112
Chicks Hatched: 143
2 Week Chicks: 125
6 Week Chicks: 113
Chicks Fledged: 110
Hatch per Pair: .965
Fledge per Pair: .797
Fledge per Hatch: .769
# of Lakes Reported: 148

**Not all loon nesting lakes are registered (entered in our data system). The registered lakes do not make a scientific sample of any area. New and updated information is regularly received.
(**The 2009 loon information from the Ottawa National Forest has not yet been received.)
MLPA Annual Meeting!

Sunday, May 23, 2010 is a date that we hope you will mark on your calendar. It will be our Annual Meeting from 1:00 - 4:00 P.M. at the beautiful Carl Johnson Nature Center in Cadillac. We will have a guest speaker, and there will also be opportunities to find out more about Michigan's wonderful loons, as well as about our work to protect them throughout the state. More details will be forthcoming as we prepare and look forward to this happy yearly loon event!
Loon Echoes Newsletter Coming Out Soon!

The next issue of our MLPA quarterly newsletter "Loon Echoes" will be coming out in Mid-March. This will be a special issue for membership as well as a look ahead as our Loon Rangers prepare for ice-out and the spring arrival of the loons. This issue will be sent postally to all members.

We invite new memberships at any time; our membership opportunities begin at $10. Contact Luanne Jaruzel: jaruzel@tds.net for more information, or visit michiganloons.com. We also invite you to visit our two blogspots: www.michiganloonpreservationasssociation,blogspot.com, and www.michiganloonwatch.blogspot.com

"Tremolos" is the online news page for Michigan Loonwatch and Michigan Loon Preservation Association: Michigan's oldest and only statewide loon protection, monitoring and education organization, operating under the direction of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and within the guidelines of the Michigan Loon Recovery Plan.