A feature in four parts: loving the loons, mail delivery by boat, a castle in the clouds, B & B Bliss
Many of us saw our first loon on our family’s cottage lake when we were young. The beauty of their perfectly patterned white and black markings and their striking red eyes held us in awe. Their haunting wails and hoots woke us up in the morning, and sent us off to slumber in a rather unique way... "The Lullaby Wail" became my favourite bedtime song.
We took loons for granted; yet still, we became excited when we saw them floating by with a pair of chicks – maybe one on the mother’s back, the other proving he could swim solo beside her. When we spotted them, we never gave it a second thought that their survival might be threatened; after all, there are thousands of lakes in North America.
I was one such uninformed person. I found out just how wrong I was during a special trip I took to a very special place to learn more about the bird I loved.
I drove from Montreal to the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. For the past 41 years this dedicated group of brilliant biologists along with more than a thousand volunteers have been studying loons in over 350 New Hampshire lakes. They are the largest and most loon-knowledgeable organization in the world. Their long-term work has resulted in the creation of our planet’s largest and most comprehensive data base for loons. Best of all, they are completely accessible; They have to be, for the success of loon preservation is reliant on educating the public with a view to encouraging empathy and compliance.
As Tiffany explained: "By putting bands on the loons legs, we can identify individual loons, which helps us learn about their life history and how their productivity and survival relates to their health and contaminant levels. What we learn by following these loons around helps us understand how to better preserve the species. We go out at night with a spotlight, locate the family, and keep the light trained on them. Because the light is so bright, they can’t see behind the light. At that point, we imitate chick or loon calls and they come up to the boat to confront what they believe is another loon in their territory. At that point, we net them and get them in the boat, where we put the bands on, weigh and measure them, and take feather and blood samples that we can test for contaminants and health factors.”
This monitoring process not only involves setting up cameras, but most importantly banding the bird on its leg with an unobtrusive geo-locator which allows for following the movement and mapping territorial changes of the loon families – in some cases a single male or female – finding out answers as to why dwindling populations occur, rescuing loons, discovering the territorial habits of loons, and the importance of mankind respecting their nests. Public education is foremost, and I must say that the video I watched at LPC centre taught me so much, as did the loon cruise I signed up for.
Watch this video
Always fund raising, researching, educating and rescuing, The Loon Preservation Committee has given loons their own collective plea wail.
Throw away those led sinkers and gigs! Simply sit back and watch the loons as they pass by your boat, canoe or wharf. Whaaah, whaah!
Check out their excellent video/display room and lovely gift boutique; it's a one-stop place to learn, shop, reserve your Squam Lake cruise and mix with other loon-loving folks.
The Loon Preservation Committee's website is www.loon.org.
Ponder the fact that bigger things await you at the end of the road.
A trolley will take you up even further to the Castle in the Clouds.
The website is www.castleintheclouds.org
The Thais Touch: tenacity turns an abandoned B&B into beauty
Since the age of six, Thais St Clair had always been fascinated with houses – especially if they had mysterious passages that led to staircases where a secret room was lurking. Such was the imagination of Thais whose interest in dwellings never seemed to wane. But life happens: she ended up traveling to Japan at the age of 16, and then worked in a high power job for a semi-conductor company that often took her to Japan. Not surprisingly, she’s fluent in Japanese.
A huge marine mural adorns the entrance.
Cozy corners feature Queen Ann style and Chinese pieces of furniture, creating lovely sitting areas. What a lovely nook for sitting and reading!
My room had a bed big enough to fit in two King Henry the 8ths! Called the teal orchid room, it has it own turquoise orchid. There's so much room. I loved the floor-to-ceiling drapes.
I felt like I could very well have been one of his wives (without their outcome). It was royally huge, and the bathroom was as well.