Monday, January 30, 2017
A Loon Visits Carnegie Lake
Thanks to Melinda Varian for sending her husband Lee's photos of a loon that's been visiting Carnegie Lake. "We were standing on the footbridge that goes across where the (Millstone) river goes under the canal into the lake. A man we talked with said that he has been seeing it in the lake for about a week."
Another local birder, Laurie Larson, who keeps tabs on bird populations, said she could recall "one or two records over 30 years. It certainly is not “common,” although it is a Common Loon! I’m glad it’s finding Princeton hospitable."
One has to be quick to photograph a loon. A more common shot catches the tail feathers as it dives in search of a meal.
For fun facts about loons, check out this Cornel site, which explains that loons have solid bones rather than hollow, in order to be heavy enough to hunt effectively underwater. As a result, "Loons are like airplanes in that they need a runway for takeoff. In the case of loons, they need from 30 yards up to a quarter-mile (depending on the wind) for flapping their wings and running across the top of the water in order to gain enough speed for lift-off."
Because of this need for a long aquatic runway, loons can get stranded in small ponds, or on wet pavement that they mistakenly land on, thinking it to be water. Our visiting loon chose its lake well, as Laurie explains: "Fortunately if the weather freezes up, there’s plenty of water for the long wind-up and take-off that loons need, and this one can head for Cape May."
Update: It's a bit disjointed in this video to see all the scenes packed together, but loons play a starring role with Kathryn Hepburn and Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond.