The stars aligned for me the weekend of July 20. About 1,300 of you will recognize that date because you volunteer for Maine Audubon’s Annual Loon Count. Those of you who keep careful journals will recall it as a weekend with record high temperatures in the forecast. For me, it was marked on my calendar as a weekend with a cabin reserved in the Rangeley/Oquossoc region.
Rangeley is one of my favorite regions in Maine, one that my family has enjoyed visiting for many decades. Simply being there makes my heart smile. There’s an added bonus in being there during a heatwave because the 1,500 foot elevation brings a slightly cooler air, and the scenery of pristine mountains and lakes makes your forget the heat, anyway.
Best of all, I had the good fortune of joining Kevin Sinnett of Rangeley Lake Cruises and Nick of Nick Leadley Nature Photography (whose photos illustrate this post) on the 36th annual Maine Audubon Loon Count on Rangeley Lake. Kevin volunteers as the coordinator of the Rangeley Lake loon count. A number of lucky participants hopped on board of Kevin’s beautiful and spacious new cruise boat and we left the dock at 7 a.m. in search of Gavia immer: the Common Loon. It was a thrill to know that, at that same moment, 1,300 others were embarking on similar adventures on what was a spectacularly beautiful Maine morning. Kevin and Nick know Rangeley Lake and its loons as well as anyone. Kevin handed over his binoculars and put the youngest participants in the front of the boat. Those sharp young eyes didn’t let us down; we saw loons swimming, diving, flying and even sitting on a nest (from a respectful distance). The final tally for Rangeley Lake: 32 loons.
We’ve collected some of the other social media posts, videos, news stories from the Loon Count across the state here in this Loon Count Roundup!
Maine Audubon’s work to improve Maine’s wildlife and habitat is science-based. A fundamental pillar of our science-based approach is to involve people in our work. The loon count is one of many examples of our strategy of leveraging our entire community in the pursuit of our mission. We can’t do our good work without you. The real win is that we continually hear how thoroughly our volunteers enjoy their Maine Audubon adventures. It’s a classic win/win: your being involved in our work makes a true difference in the health of our ecosystems, but it also is simply good for you. Thanks for being part of keeping Maine’s wildlife flourishing. As I’ve said before, when Maine’s wildlife thrives, Maine thrives.
As we move into August, we begin the wind-down on another project that relies on legions of volunteers: our work to ensure the breeding success of the endangered Piping Plover. Even as we still have Plovers incubating eggs, we have watched with joy and amazement as 150 new Piping Plovers have fledged. It is abundantly clear that this is going to be a record summer for Maine’s Piping Plovers. Thank you to all of you have assisted with this success, and for all of you whose careful beach visits have supported the Plovers in their increasingly rare and busy habitat. Stay tuned as we update you on the final tally once the Plovers finish their breeding season.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer with Maine Audubon, we urge you to do so. Peruse the individual projects listed in this link and use the links within each project to signal your desire to participate in our work: https://www.maineaudubon.org/our-work/. If you are not able to get out into the field, you can still directly protect Maine’s wildlife and habitat by signing up for our Advocacy Alerts and participating in our democratic process: https://www.maineaudubon.org/advocacy/action-alert/
Make the most of August. Get outside and enjoy the company of your friends and family!