WHAT’S NEW ON THE FLOWAGE?

The Lake District 2021 Annual Meeting took place at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, July 3rd, at the open pavilion at the Conover Town Park. The minutes will be fond on the Archives as soon as available.

Kay Yanke was elected the new Board Member replacing Clancy Senechalle, who filled out the term of Mark Tuttle after the Tuttles sold their lake property. Kay is also the new Loon Ranger for the Lake District. She reported that – while the two Baker Lake loon chicks are happy and healthy – the two Flowage eggs did not fare so well. One chick hatched, but was lost to a predator almost immediately. The second egg was lost that same night, when there was a violent confrontation with intruding loons. It looks like the intruders won the battle, and are remaining on the territory, although not nesting.

Here is some interesting excerpt from loon articles about

Aggressive Behavior Among Loons

The loons in this photo are in a territorial dispute. The resident loon of the opposite sex is watching the resident loon and intruder loon (of the same sex) fight each other. The observing resident loon will nest with whichever loon wins the dispute. Sometimes disputes can last for weeks, with the intruder(s) returning for more disputes. Or the new resident loon defending against new intruders, or even the old resident.

Violence Among Loons – Excerpts from On Wisconsin Outdoors

According to Cory MacNulty, Co-ordinator of Loon Watch at Northland College in Ashland, loons are extremely territorial.  Protecting home territory, she said, occasionally leads to attacks on ducks or other wildlife, and even to fatal attacks on other loons.

“Loons will aggressively defend their territory, mostly from other loons,” MacNulty said.  “They jab each others’ beaks, beat each other with their wings and pull each other under water.  There are documented cases of loons killing other loons by spearing the sternum.  Their goal in life is to reproduce.  They need territory to do it.”

“Intruder loons”, she said, will also initiate combat in another bird’s territory in an attempt to take over that area, and if successful, kill the rival’s chicks.

Aggressive Behavior in early June – Excerpts from Loon Watch

Aggressive encounters seem to usually involve attempted territorial take-over of a breeding area or a feeding area. Early in the season, a male or a female will invade a territory and test the pair bond of the resident pair. If the intruder is a male, it will face-off with the resident male. If the intruder is a female, it will face-off with the resident female. Occasionally a pair will intrude and the four will face-off together; this is especially common on large lakes with adjacent territories. Later in the breeding season, a single adult or pair will face-off with any intruding loon in defense of its young. Even lone non-breeding loons occasionally have aggressive encounters over popular feeding areas. This type of encounter is usually resolved quickly with the “loser” moving on.

The loon’s primary weapon is its bill. Therefore most aggressive postures and movements involve threatening the opponent with the bill. A typical aggressive encounter sequence involves the loons coming together in the middle of the lake. They will circle swim, peer underwater, and jerk their heads. They will point their bills directly at their opponent(s). All birds involved will occasionally jerk or splash dive. While underwater the loons attempt to stab their opponent with their bills.

The outcome of most encounters involves the expulsion of the losing loon (often the intruder) from the territory. The losing loon will either dive and swim out of the territory or fly off the lake. On rare occasions, loons may be injured or killed in aggressive encounters and will not be able to leave the lake. When injured, they often crawl on shore to avoid drowning or to evade the attacking loon.

Floater and Intruders in July and August – Excerpts from Loon Watch

In July and August, loons that didn’t acquire territory or lost their nest or chicks will start to congregate.  These groups will visit nearby territories.  Often these visits are referred to as a “coffee clutch” or a “Friday night fish fry”.

In fact, these visits have a greater purpose.  The groups are canvassing for information about the territorial pairs.  Have they successfully raised chicks?  If they have, that territory becomes more “valuable” and those territorial pairs will more likely have to defend their homes and chicks.

These groups will try to disrupt the pair bond, sometimes by killing chicks.  This is why you may observe chicks moving to a different area of the lake and hiding in emergent vegetation, sometimes accompanied by a parent.

Water Quality Committee Data

The Water Quality Committee has been collecting data for Baker Lake, in order to determine what is causing the Blue-Green Algae blooms. It is possible that nothing can be done, since warming climate trends are causing algae on many Wisconsin lakes that never experienced BG Algae before. However, scientists from the State, County, and University may be able to interpret the data, and help us to understand better the cause of the blooms.

Data being collected include: 1) water clarity 2) water levels 3) phosphorous and chlorophyll levels 4) dissolved oxygen levels every 3′ in the water column and 5) temperature.

For graphs of data collected so far, see below:

Click to access 2021-Water-Quality-Baker-Lake-Sub-Committee-Data2.pdf