From Tiffany Grade, LPC Squam Lake Project Biologist
It has been a busy and good week for the loons on the Squam Lakes! The Little Squam pair has re-nested (see attached picture), two more pairs went on the nest on Big Squam, and the loons that were already incubating continue to do very well! We now have five pairs nesting on the Big Lake in addition to the one pair on Little Squam.
I did receive a report of human disturbance at one of the nest sites this past week. It is very important that the loons be able to incubate their eggs without disturbance. If the loons flush off the nest due to disturbance, it exposes the eggs to predators as well as chilling or overheating, depending on the weather. Repeated disturbances could cause the loons to abandon their nest. Please help protect our nesting loons by educating your neighbors and other lake users about the need to respect the signs and ropelines and to keep disruptions around those roped areas to a minimum--and preferably zero! Also, please report any incidents you witness to me. Thank you very much for your assistance as we all do everything we can to help the loons through this critical period.
This week we're visiting Piper Cove to meet the pair there. I'm very happy we have a pair at Piper, as that territory has been not been occupied by a territorial pair for the last two years. (Only unpaired loons have been using the territory). Piper Cove is a relatively "new" loon territory. Since LPC began monitoring Squam in 1975, Piper Cove was first occupied by a pair in 1995. The lack of islands and other physical lake characteristics in the territory favored by loons probably limits its appeal, but pairs did nest there successfully for several years. The last surviving chick in the territory was in 2005, and a pair last attempted to nest there in 2007.
The present pair includes an unbanded male (for whom we have no information) and a banded female who was formerly at the Perch Island territory. She was banded there in 2007 when she was part of the pair that produced the only surviving chick on the lake that year. She hatched one chick each year in 2008 and 2009, but neither of them survived. Her nesting attempts in 2010 and 2011 were unsuccessful, due to predation by a mammal and human disturbance at the nest respectively. The pair did not nest in 2012, and she was not a member of a pair in 2013. Last September and October, she was spending quite a bit of time on Little Squam and fighting with the Little Squam female. I thought she might make an effort to take over the Little Squam territory this spring, but apparently the Little Squam female got her point across last fall! This banded female settled into Piper right away this spring, and I'm very happy we have a pair there again. Hopefully as the pair gets to know their new territory, they will think about attempting a nest in the coming years.
Feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or reports, and please visit www.loon.org to learn more about loons. Thank you for your interest in Squam's loons!
Squam Lake Project Biologist
Loon Preservation Committee