Counting Loons

The weather was perfect for my Saturday morning plans.  As always, I was up a little before 5 am to make coffee and prepare for the day. I cleared the memory card in my camera and changed the battery before tucking it into its case. My binoculars, notebook and pens were already in my pack. I laced my hiking boots, grabbed a fleece I didn’t really need, and headed out for a short drive to Patten Pond here in Washington County.


A doe walked the side of the road on Democrat Ridge. She looked good. All of the does I’ve seen this year have looked healthy. I slowed the Jeep to a crawl and waited for her to disappear into the brush.  Further up the ridge I turned a hard left onto a grassy, rutted, narrow road leading to the pond. I mumbled to myself each time the bottom of my Jeep Liberty Renegade scraped dirt and rocks. “Lift kit…don’t care how stupid it might look.”

 I parked at a turn out, grabbed my gear and travel mug of coffee and walked the last quarter of a mile to the pond.  I know the spot I chose for my task well. There’s a granite boulder that sits almost level with the ground. Not comfy but it serves its purpose when I don’t want to sit on the cold, damp ground. I took a few pictures and scanned what I could see of the pond with the binoculars. I hoped the other participants cooperated and made themselves known.


7:00 am. The Maine Audubon’s annual loon count was officially under way.


7:01 am. A loon yodeled from the opposite bank, a bit to my left, giving me an idea of where to find them. There they were; the pair I expected to see. To my knowledge they are the only loons on Patten Pond. The sun rose behind them, bouncing on the ripples they made while moving through the water. It was hard to see them well.  Where was the chick? I saw a chick three weeks ago.


I watched closely, hoping to spot the chick as the loons moved slowly toward me. They stopped in the middle of the pond for baths. It’s fun to watch this but I needed them to move out of the direct line of the sun so that I could see clearly and officially count the chick before the loon count ended at 7:30 am. When they did move on they turned away from me and quickly disappeared from sight. If the chick was with them I missed it. I’ll return to the pond this Saturday morning to look for it again before I turn in my report.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.