July 27 – August 2, 2018 Vol. 20, No. 8


Summertime in the Belgrades

July 27 – August 2

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Counting Loons

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 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

I left my dock around 6 a.m., planning to fish for a bit before picking up my assistant counter, Fred Knight, at the Village Inn docks at 6:45. I was grateful for the blue skies and light winds compared to last year's cold and rain but as I cleared my cove, I realized there was a solid fog bank beginning about half way down the lake. It looked like it was burning off fairly rapidly but visibility was going to be reduced so we would have to search slower than usual with closer spacing on our tracks.

Our assigned sector was Lynch Cove, one of the smaller sectors, so I wasn't worried. I thought about Carl von Clausewitz's "fog of war" and how it affected even small operations like ours. I began trolling slowly through the fog toward the dock when I spotted Fred heading down to the dock. I picked him up and we headed into our sector, looking for loons. We spotted one loon surfacing in the fog behind the boat just as we entered our area.

Suddenly, my phone rang. It was one of my other counters who was having engine trouble on his boat, wanting to know if we could count his sector as well. His sector was adjacent to ours and visibility was beginning to improve so we sped up a bit and continued our search.

I also realized why modern soldiers loosely translate the "fog of war" as "s**t happens." We managed to get through both sectors by about 7:35 ending with a pair of loons feeding their two chicks in a secluded cove on the western shore of Long Pond, always an awesome sight that fills me with joy.

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. Several of my friends had their grandkids visiting. Both Dick Greenan and Lynn Matson had grandkids staying with them so they launched a grandpa/grandkid canoe trip down the Kennebec River, which was interrupted by a thunderstorm. They came off the water and headed for ice cream, batting cages, and disc golf. Lots of memories being made in the process. Lynn also spent some time on the lake with Alex teaching him to use Lynn's standup pedal board and later enjoyed the fruits of his labors.

Jason and Amanda at the French Mountain trailhead.

I also got a little hiking in and some foraging for raspberries and mushrooms. At French Mountain I ran into Jason and Amanda, a young couple from Princeton, NJ. When I asked what brought them to our area, Amanda explained that her grandfather had built a log cabin on Watson pond before she was born and she had been coming here since she was a year old. That was two years before some foresighted individuals living on Watson Pond acquired the mountain and started the Watson Pond Conservation Trust (now 7-LA) in 1988.

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.

Trolling through the "fog of war" at 6:40 a.m. Photo by Fred Knight.