Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day ~ Spring Loon Census ("Loon Day") with my kids

I was busy at our local Family Forestry Expo this past Saturday, which fell on the same day as Loon Day (an annual census of breeding lakes in western Montana, coordinated by the Montana Common Loon Working Group, supported by the Montana Loon Society).  So I had to get to some of my lakes on Mother's Day, instead; it was a long but fun and sunny work day for me and the kids.

We (the area coordinators from multiple state and federal agencies) monitor or coordinate monitoring of our respective lakes throughout the breeding/chick rearing season (roughly May to September).  On Spring and Summer census days, we try to see every lake on one day (or at least within a couple of days) to see which lakes are occupied and which pairs are nesting.

We cover some of our lakes on these censuses through 'citizen science' (use of local volunteers) but also usually still have lakes to cover ourselves and/or through our "loon rangers" (hence our Mother's Day work day).

Here are a few of our Mother's Day/Loon day photos.  These lakes are way up the North Fork of the Flathead River, just across the river from Glacier National Park.  We didn't take any Polebridge photos, where we stopped for cookies, but there are a few pictures of that beautiful spot in another post.

One of two loons on a private-access remote lake

Long-toed salamander eggs, Tepee Lake

Loon nesting on platform

Tepee Lake

Fairy shrimp (spp?), Tepee Lake

Fairy shrimp

kids watching invertebrates

8 miles from the Canadian border (closed border crossing)

Looking into Glacier National Park, near Tepee Lake

North Fork Road

turtle-in-a-bush, Spoon Lake

He never dove or swam away (surprisingly, as Painted turtles tend to be pretty skiddish around here, but he did "hide" in his shell as I was packing up).

Cedar Cr. Reservoir (no public access); loons in distance

Common Loon (unbanded)

Two loons in the far distance, Cedar Creek Reservoir, both unbanded (saw both legs of both birds on one day for the first time ever on this lake....I tend to always see one leg of each bird no matter how long I look...chicks and adults are banded to track individuals return rates and timing and other date to help monitor the local loon population).

Two loons in the far distance


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