by Eric Hansen on 9/11/2012 at the Ecostudies Blog
Last night, for the third time, several volunteers and I tried to capture a loon entangled in fishing line in theLudlow-Plymouth area. Sports analogies are everywhere, and the game analogy can be used here as well; the preparation of supplies, the anticipation as one travels to the site, the warm-up of finding the bird in daylight, checking its status, and then the wait for darkness and the true game to begin.
During our first attempt, I did not have time for a night capture, so we boated slowly on Amherst Lake toward the tangled loon in daylight. The bird wanted nothing to do with us. A few days later we gathered for a night attempt, but the bird was gone. Despite having fishing line wrapped around its head, it seemed this loon could fly. Game called.
This past week the loon was observed eating a fish on Lake Rescue by VLRP volunteers Johnny and Joanne Esau (see photos). Then on Sunday, two local water skiers found it on Echo Lake. Two loons died earlier this year from fishing line entanglements before we had a chance to try rescue attempts, thus
I really wanted to have one good attempt, even if we failed.
We prepared for attempt three by going through the routine for a night capture. Once darkness settled in we turned on the spotlights. The loon was curious about the raspy chick whistles I made, more than the adult hoots imitations, but I could tell it was going to dive. I lunged for it with the net and missed. Despite spending another hour trying to get close, the “game” was over.
It was a game we both lost, and one I’d rather not even be playing. One does become caught up in the excitement of trying to catch a wild creature, but after so many hours and late nights of playing the “game” and taking time away from other tasks, reality sets in about why we’re out there in the first place.
I want to thank Bob Tucker, Johnny, Larry, Russ, Laura, and several others who have called me about this bird. This loon is in really good shape compared to most birds caught in fishing line; it can eat, preen
somewhat, and fly. It might just be able to survive until the line wears thin at the edge of its bill and hopefully falls off. Or maybe we’ll have a game four around the time of the World Series.