Laying the Groundwork for Loons in Fairlee and Fairfield

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Photo by Dan Crepeau

Photo by Dan Crepeau

Back in July I presented a program on loons at the Lake Fairlee association annual meeting. We lined this up last year after a summer of consistent loon activity on the lake and after a rescue of a loon that had ingested fishing line. Increasing the level of awareness about what loons and loon pairs need to be successful is one of first steps to assist loons on busy lakes, especially if there is a future nest attempt. And “busy” just begins to describe the activity on Lake Fairlee with at least 3 residential summer camps, a public beach, a very active boat access area, and a highly developed shoreline with all the associated activities. In May and June, however, the waters are fairly peaceful and it can be relatively quiet during the mid-week in July. Loons could reside here as a pair but it would be challenging.

A week prior to the Lake Fairlee meeting, we discovered a failed loon nest on Fairfield Pond in northwest Vermont. For the past two summers, lake residents have noted an increase in loon activity. Last summer I took a tour of the pond and looked for potential nesting habitat and pointed out the main island and a marsh at the south end. This year’s first ever nest attempt was on the island. Fairfield Pond is also a busy place, although maybe a notch below the activity on Lake Fairlee. However, the island is a favorite spot for boaters, swimmers, and anglers and will require a major shift in human behavior if the loons are to be successful there.

The day before heading down to Lake Fairlee, I learned that Fairfield Pond was having their annual meeting on the same day. I added this meeting to my agenda to plant the seed about staying off the island until early to mid-summer if the loons try to nest there again. Thus, I had the day of the Fair-Ponds.

Both meetings went well with lots of enthusiasm from the lake residents. We still need to contact the owner of the island on Fairfield Pond as a next step. Loon activity on Lake Fairlee has not been constant this year, so it is doubtful we have a pair forming yet. Building support and reaching people who might not otherwise receive information about loons and lake habitat takes time, and these were some good early steps in the process.

Eric Hanson

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