Highland Lake Loons are Nesting in a Safer Spot This Year

Chicks should hatch in early July

By Donna Baker-Hartwell
A sign at the boat landing on Highland Lake alerts people that loons are nesting in the near vicinity and that dogs are not allowed. Photo: Donna Baker-Hartwell

It was official that our loon pair were beginning to nest on the east side of the island on May 28. As I write this update, they are 19 days into a 28- to 30-day gestation period. Sometime between June 26 and June 28 — if all goes well — we should see some chicks appear. 

This year’s nest site is in a very good spot and very hidden! It is in what we have been calling “the Narrows”. This is the No Wake zone on the lake, on the east side of the island. (A No Wake speed is under 5 MPH.) Keeping wave activity away from a loon’s nest that sits inches from the water’s edge is crucial.

This is a broad view of the protected Loon nesting area on Highland Lake in “the Narrows.” The loons are in a more protected spot than last year. Photo: Donna Baker-Hartwell

Responsible boaters know that a No Wake speed is the law when motoring within 150 feet of a shoreline. Because part of the Narrows is approximately 300 feet, this area has long been designated No Wake, and one buoy has been here for many years. 

As a loon volunteer for the New Hampshire Loon Protection Committee (NHLPC), I have been advocating for two No Wake buoys – one for each entrance to the Narrows so as to alert boaters before they are midway of their speed. John Cooley, NHLPC Senior biologist, and Phil Keefe, NHLPC Field Biologist, are discussing this issue with the New Hampshire Marine Patrol. Perhaps, working together we will be able to get another buoy.

By the time you read this article, the chicks will have hatched. Once they have hatched, the loons will leave the island shore area and venture across the lake. They’ll carry the chicks on their backs for the most part, but we have seen the chicks swim alongside the adults. 

The chicks are vulnerable during this time to birds of prey, snapping turtles, and boats. In past years, they seemed to like the north end cove area by the Agoos’ for the first week or so. 

It is always a thrill to have loon chicks on our lake! A good pair of binoculars allows enthusiasts a close-up view without getting too close. The loon family will need lots of space in order to protect the chicks and give them their undivided attention.

If you would like to join our Loon News email group, please send a request to join to DonnaBH@nulltds.net. This is a great way to share your observations, photos, and thoughts about our lake, our loons, and other wildlife on the lake.