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by Pete Kallin
The summer is flying by. The weather has continued to be variable, mostly hot and humid with a few thundershowers, but occasionally really nice for hiking in the shady woods.
Because of the current pandemic, this summer has been quite different than most in terms of the activities going on, with almost no large public gatherings or team sports events. While people have changed their schedules, Mother Nature continues to move forward with hers and this summer is moving forward just as rapidly as it always does. We seem to have more visitors from throughout the State of Maine; many exploring our area instead of traveling out of state as they may have in the past. To me, there seems to be an increase in family gatherings with an emphasis on outdoor activities.
It is heartening to run into so many families out enjoying the local trails. Last week I was hiking and foraging mushrooms and berries on Mount Phillip, when I met three generations of the Corcoran family from Falmouth, Maine, getting ready to head up the trail. When I asked how they found out about our local trails, they said Tripadvisor had suggested French Mountain as a "kid friendly" trail, which they had done the previous week and enjoyed it greatly. While there, they had taken a picture of the trail map posted in the kiosk and decided to come back this week to try Mount Phillip.
The hot weather has continued and many people are turning to water activities (swimming, tubing, water skiing, etc.) or just lounging in the water like my neighbor Sarah Toner did recently with her nephews, Sam and Henry Walsh. (See photo below.) I was later told that Henry caught a nice bass off the dock after they were done swimming.
As I mentioned, Mother Nature is sticking to her schedule, pandemic or no pandemic. As the water warms, the coldwater fish are moving deeper. The larger pike and bass continue to forage on alewives approximately 25 feet down, while the smaller fish remain in the shallows feeding on crayfish and insects while trying to avoid becoming pike or loon food.
Three weeks ago, I discussed the annual loon count. The official loon count for Long Pond (including Ingham Pond) this year was 38 adults and 3 chicks. One of the chicks has subsequently disappeared, but I am proud to announce that as of this morning, the loons on the raft had one egg hatch and are still sitting on another. My friend, Dam Keeper Dick Greenan, got some great pictures with his big telephoto lens. Hopefully there will be enough time before ice-in for the new loon chick(s) to learn to fly before they get iced in. Mother Nature doesn't change her schedule. Some of the swamp red maples along the shore are already beginning to turn red.
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. Check out the events at the 7-LA website and the sign in front of the MLRC. Events are being presented as conditions allow, and the schedule is fluid. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day's Store or from the 7 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. Individual trail maps can be downloaded from the 7 Lakes website.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which merged with the Maine Lakes Resource Center in December 2017 to form the 7-Lakes Alliance.