Muschopauge Pond had some infrequent but welcomed visitors yesterday when a pair of loons stopped by; their haunting familiar cry boomed across the fields and could even be heard in the house. We're a little too far South for prime loon nesting habitat and they generally avoid small ponds, but a loon or two seem to stop by a couple times each summer; and a young single loon stayed for several weeks a few years ago. I think they are drawn by the excellent fishing as the pond is clean and clear, plentyful of fish and perfect for diving birds to locate their underwater prey.
They are intriguing birds in many ways. Designed for swimming; loons are clumsy on land with legs set too far back for good balance. They spend most of their time in water and, like an airplane, need a good straight runway to fly; in their case, at least 30 yards of water to run across, flapping their wings to build the momentum to get aflight.
Like the howl of a wolf, loons represent "wilderness" to most of us, as they are easily identified by sight and sound during the summer in northern lakes and we've all seen photos of a mother loon swimming with her one or two chicks riding on her back. It was only a few years ago I learned that it is these same birds that we see in the ocean, looking sort of gray and drab, usually solo, drifting along the ocean coastline in other seasons of the year.
The other summer visitors that arrived to the area today were the two steers I purchased. They've seemed to settle in nicely with the goats and I'll give them access to a larger pasture tomorrow. One is an angus and the other an angus/crossbred with a white face. They are not known for their vocalization, swimming or diving skills and we hope they don't go airborn over the fence.