Click any blue-bordered photo on this page to enlarge it.
by Pete Kallin
The third Saturday in July was the annual loon count in Maine, coordinated by Maine Audubon. Every year over 1000 volunteers, of which I am one, attempt to count all the loons on a couple hundred Maine lakes at the same time. It's organized like a military operation, and I am the coordinator for the dozen or so volunteers on Long Pond. Early in the morning all counters head for their assigned section of the lake to be in position to count all the adult loons and loon chicks in their area between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. I don't have all the numbers back from my counters yet, but overall it looks like a good year for Long Pond, with over 40 adults and at least 7 chicks.
There were lots of kids and grandkids on the lake this week, although none of them mine. I did get to see my grandson play his saxophone in a jazz concert in Farmington, where he attended a jazz camp last week. I saw lots of other young faces around, though. My friends, the Greenans, had both their Maine grandkids and their South Carolina grandkids for the week and had an intensive week that involved a lot hiking, boating, lobsters, ice cream at Days, and a little fishing. Lots of memories being made.
The BRCA Stewardship committee worked with a team of volunteers from Pine Island Camp at Mount Phillip early in the week. I led a small crew that cut Japanese knotweed [an invasive plant] down with machetes — an activity teen age boys always seem to enjoy! — while another group went with Toni Pied to clear brush along the trail and open up some viewsheds near the top. Mount Phillip is the legendary home of Indian King Kababah according to camp lore and the campers have a special relationship with the mountain, which conserved by the BRCA and Pine Island Camp alumni a dozen years ago. Pine Island alumni develop a special relationship with the Belgrade Lakes watershed and many have become permanent residents in their "golden years."
On the way down the hill, I met the Brennans from Chicago, who were hiking up. They had friends who moved to Chicago from Livermore Falls who kept telling them how beautiful Maine was and encouraged them to visit. They did a few years ago and have been coming back every summer since. This was their first time in our region, but it won't be the last.
I also managed to get a bit of fishing in. As the water has warmed, the bigger fish have moved out to the deep water to chase schools of alewives. I caught several, 4-pound bass on my trusty white zonker weighted streamer fished about 20 feet down, where I saw schools of fish on my fish finder. In the middle of the week, I met up with my friend Mel Croft, who lives on East Pond. We went out on his boat, grilled hot dogs for lunch, and started fishing.
At one point, I asked Mel how deep the water was and whether he saw any fish on the fish finder. He told me his dog, Jasper, was his fish finder. We started casting where Jasper pointed and we soon had what Florida native, Mel, calls, "a mess of fish." I kept enough white perch to give some fresh fillets to my neighbors and still had plenty for an awesome fish fry that night.
Take advantage of the rest of the summer and get out on the lakes or hike or bike in the hills. And take a kid along. You will be creating memories that will last.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.