e-Newsletter Vol. 55
In This Issue
Save the Date: 2017 Summer Luncheon & Auction
The Tale of Winter Loon Rescues

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Loons & LPC on NHPR

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I was overly optimistic in the last e-newsletter that the mid-December cold snap was going to make all of our lakes freeze over.  That was the case for most of them, but we did not make it through the end of 2016 without some ice rescues on our plate.  The tricky part was that the ice was so thin, having just formed, and barely safe enough to cross (in fact, LPC's John Cooley found himself crawling across a frozen lake in Littleton to a small opening where a young loon was stuck).
LPC Senior Biologist John Cooley puts a tarp over the hole to make it smaller and watches for the loon to re-surface.  Photo courtesy of Vicki Eames
To truly understand the difficulties of these rescue attempts and the harrowing efforts made by LPC Staff (and in some cases local fire departments or other volunteers), I am including an excerpt from an email sent to us by an LPC volunteer and onlooker the day of this rescue on December 12:
Standing on the edge of the boat, John Cooley waits for the loon to come back up so he can capture it in the net.  Photo courtesy of Vicki Eames.

"I just want to let you know that I watched much of your action through binoculars (and thick tree
branches.)  Whoever it was, is to be applauded for a valiant rescue attempt.
Loons, as wild animals, are constantly aware of the need to avoid predators --- this loon did that job especially well today (and was probably incapable of recognizing that today's "predator" was in fact its rescuer.)
Your work hauling the boat, equipment, ropes and tarps out on to the ice, then balancing paddle and net without eventually going in the water yourself was commendable, to say the least!
Your patience, persistence and grit were admirable --- Bravo!"
After a short stay at Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine, the young loon was released in Penobscot Bay on December 20!   
A rescued young loon captures a fish at Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine.  In addition to positive bloodwork, a loon must be able to capture live fish prior to release.  Photo courtesy of Terry Heitz/Avian Haven.
Shortly after being released, the loon stretches its wings on Penobscot Bay.  Photo courtesy of Terry Heitz/Avian Haven.

In addition to the loon rescue on Partridge Lake, there were two others that are highlighted below: one on Lake Sunapee and one in Ossipee, NH.  You may be asking why we even attempt these rescues.  Because loons can live for so long, the survival of both adult and juvenile loons can be of long-lasting importance to their recovery in NH. 
As of January 10, Winnipesaukee finally froze over--hopefully it will stay that way until the spring!  Here's a good link to check out the ice conditions on the lake.  Stay safe if you do venture out on the ice this winter and please keep us posted if you see anything unusual (such as a stranded loon).   
Across the pond in Ireland, a birder recently came across a leucistic Great Northern Diver (that's the name for common loon in Europe).   Click here to read more and to see pictures of this most unusual bird.  How cool would it be to see one here?!
Lastly, do you have a wonderful story or poem about loons that you would like to share?  Nature Photographer, Nick Leadley, is looking for submissions for a book he is currently working on that will pair his photographs with memorable moments from people relating their experiences with these magnificent birds.  The deadline is January 31, 2017.  For more information or to contact Nick, please call 207-670-8427 or email nick@touchthewildphotos.com.  
Stay warm,
Save the Date for LPC's Summer Luncheon and Benefit Auction
Sunday, June 11
Bald Peak Colony Club
Melvin Village, NH
11 am - 2 pm
More details coming soon!

Photo courtesy of Bald Peak Colony Club
The Tale of Winter Loon Rescues

In addition to the loon rescue on Partridge Lake highlighted above, there were a few others in the second half of December.  Another juvenile loon was found stranded on a road shoulder in Ossipee by resident Kaitlyn Gallup.  She borrowed warm water from a neighboring house to melt the ice and snow that trapped the loon's feet, freeing it.  Kaitlyn put a coat over the loon and waited with it for several hours until help arrived.  Fish and Game Conservation Officer Brad Morse picked up the loon and brought it to LPC, and then Harry Vogel relayed the loon to Portland, Maine, where it was transported to Avian Haven, in Freedom, Maine.  It takes a village!

The loon was treated there and successfully released on Penobscot Bay on December 27.
  When we called Kaitlyn to follow up, she confessed that she has a full house of rescue dogs and a few cats. Little did she know when she pulled over to investigate the strange bird she'd spotted that she was about to add loons to her rescue list!  Kaitlyn's quick thinking and willingness to stick with this loon until help could be found made the difference and marked the 17th and final successful rescue and release of a New Hampshire loon for the year, a record year, chock full of similar stories.
The young loon rescued on the side of a road in Ossipee on December 18 was released on Penobscot Bay in late December.  Photo courtesy of Terry Heitz/Avian Haven. 

On December 20, we got a call about a possible iced-in loon on Lake Sunapee.  That afternoon, June Fichter from Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) was able to confirm that there were two loons on the lake; one in a small opening and the other on top of the ice.  To make matters worse, there were a few bald eagles waiting nearby for the perfect opportunity to get their next meal.  After a few phone calls, a plan was set in place to attempt a loon rescue the following day.  John Cooley, LPC Senior Biologist was on vacation that week, so Executive Director Harry Vogel donned the yellow rescue suit and traipsed nearly a half-mile to the opening in the middle of the lake.  Thanks to Kittie & John Wilson (of New London), Harry was joined by firefighters from the New London and Sunapee fire departments.  This was a very good thing considering the lake had just frozen over a day or two earlier. {Just as a reminder--human safety is of utmost importance and we would not jeopardize anyone's safety when doing these loon rescues} 
A loon is stranded on the ice with two eagles hovering nearby.  Photo courtesy of Kittie Wilson. 
When we arrived on-scene we saw one loon on the ice (pictured above) and two loons in a separate opening.  Since the single loon was being carefully watched by a few bald eagles, and there was no open water nearby, the rescuers decided to go after that one first. 
LPC's Harry Vogel leads the rescue team onto a frozen Lake Sunapee.  Photo courtesy of Kittie Wilson. 

As they made their way out to the loon, it kept scooting across the ice and eventually ended up in the open hole with the other two loons. 
You can just barely see three dark specks in the ice.  While it looks closer to the opposite shore, the opening was about 1/2 mile from either side.  Photo courtesy of Kittie Wilson. 
Harry was surprised when he reached the opening to see two common loons and one red-throated loon (they are usually only seen during migration in NH and even that is somewhat rare).  Much to Harry's dismay, the opening was actually quite large--about 25 x 30, and the tarp he brought to cover part of it wasn't going to help.  The loons continued to dive, only coming up for air for a quick second, and remained out of the net's reach. 
The view from the edge of the hole, looking out at the red-throated loon.  Photo by Harry Vogel. 

After more than an hour on the ice, the rescue team decided to come back to shore.  Thankfully the eagles had been scared away for the time being and warmer temperatures were forecasted for the holiday weekend which would help keep the hole open for longer. 
After a long walk back from the middle of the lake while towing more than 2,000 feet of rope in the jon-boat, LPC's Executive Director Harry Vogel enjoys a refreshing drink of water.  Photo by Kittie Wilson 

Daily checks leading up to Christmas Day saw only one remaining loon in the hole, so the other two loons were able to take off. {Red-throated loons do not need a long runway to get airborne}.  Do you believe in miracles?  The high winds on Christmas Day helped the third and final loon get off the lake!  We are so thrilled this story had a happy ending--a great way to bring 2016 to a close!
Rescue efforts like the ones highlighted above would not have been possible without the help of our volunteers and concerned members of the public who alerted us to these situations.  We cannot thank everyone involved in these rescues enough for their help!
The Loon Preservation Committee is dedicated to restoring and maintaining a healthy population of loons throughout New Hampshire; monitoring the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality; and promoting a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.
Susie Burbidge
Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator
Loon Preservation Committee