For the preservation, protection, and maintenance of Lake St. Catherine
Lake St. Catherine is teeming with wildlife - with birds and animals of all sizes making the lake their home.
On any given day, you could see eagles, loons, herons, ospreys, multiple species of ducks, numerous species of smaller birds, muskrats, foxes, turtles, and the list goes on...
While everyone may have their own favorite lake critter, the two that seem to generate the most excitement are our nesting eagles, and our visiting loons.
For many years, a nesting pair of eagles have made Lake St. Catherine their home. During this time, the eagles have parented numerous eaglets from their nest on Cones Point.
They can be spotted all around the lake as they perch and chitter away in the tall trees, or as they are hunting for fish from the lake, or as they are soaring above the lake with their fledglings, or as they fly in large limbs to fortify their nest.
They are truly amazing to observe, and we are privileged to have them on Lake St. Catherine!
Just check out the photo on the right by Lake St. Catherine photographer Karen Velsor. Amazing!
Here's a video of a pair of eagles with a fledgling captured near the Lake St. Catherine State Park:
Notice that the third eagle does not have the the white head and bright yellow bill, indicating that it is a juvenile. The juvenile also appears larger than the adults, which can be from having longer flight feathers in their first year as they learn to fly.
We think it’s safe to say that the Lake St. Catherine community’s interest in our visiting loons is peaking...
This season, we’ve seen at least two distinct pairs, and numerous juveniles patrolling different sections of the lake. Recently, loon biologist Eric Hanson from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies gave a fantastic presentation at the LSCA’s Annual Meeting (which you can view below), as did Scott MacLachlan at a presentation arranged by the Rutland County Audubon Society at the Poultney Public Library. Photos and videos of the loons are frequently posted on the LSCA's Facebook page, and on a LSC community Facebook Group called Lake St. Catherine - Vermont.
So, we’d like to let you know about some upcoming loon related initiatives the LSCA will be participating in - and how you can help!
Photo: Courtesy of the Vermont Center for EcoStudies, by Jeff Nadler
Eric has informed us that we should keep an eye out for the loons returning to the lake at ice out to see if they are favoring a spot for a potential nest. He explained that it is best to wait for the loons to pick a spot that they like before attempting to place a nesting raft to assist them. Also, general observations of the loons throughout the year will be helpful.
So, we've set up a form for you to be able to record your observations of loons on the lake!
There are 2 forms. One will allow you to upload photos or a short video of your loon observation, but it does require that you have a Google account. The other form does not require a Google account and will allow you to record your observation, but you will not be able to upload a photo or video.
On the forms, you can add your name and email address (optional), the date, location, number of loons, a place to indicate if you see a subadult loon, and a description of their activity that you observe.
Here are the forms:
• Loon Observation Form - With Photo (Google Account required)
• Loon Observation Form - No Photo
You can visit these pages and bookmark them for quick access.
These forms will be a great collection of data on the loons visiting LSC, and it should be fun logging our observations of them.
We ask that you please DO NOT approach the loons. If you see them, observe them from your location, take a photo if you'd like, and then visit the form to log your observation and notes.
Every year, lead tackle and discarded monofilament line kills aquatic wildlife dependent on Vermont lakes. Entanglement in fishing tackle and poisoning by lead sinkers account for nearly 50% of loon deaths in Vermont. While Vermont's statewide law banning the sale and use of 0.5-ounce lead sinkers has clearly helped reduce mortality from lead fishing gear, 7 of the 9 loon deaths since 2007 occurred between 2014-2020, thus indicating that lead ingestion by loons is still problematic. Furthermore, monofilament mortalities have increased from 8 deaths before 2007 to 11 since 2007 highlighting that fishing gear continues to be a threat to loons in Vermont.
Lead (Pb) is a neurotoxin that attacks the nervous system and can lead to blindness, decreased reproductivity, seizures, and death. One lead sinker will kill a loon. The ingestion of lead fishing tackle is virtually always fatal for loons, with death typically occurring within 2–4 weeks. And it's not just loons. Lead poisons eagles, swans, some mammals, and other aquatic birds as well. As of January 2007, it is illegal to use and sell lead sinkers weighing one-half ounce or less to fish within Vermont.
In 2023, the LSCA will partner with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, and with the permission of Vermont Fish & Wildlife, to install monofilament and lead collection tubes at the boat launch. During their normal boat inspections, our Greeters will educate boaters about this collection program so that visitors can quickly look through their tackle box for old lead gear and bundles of fishing line to deposit in the tubes. Vermont Ecostudies also hopes to launch a voucher program with local tackle shops, so that old lead tackle collected can be replaced with lead-free alternatives.
We are all excited to see so many loons on LSC, but we need to give them their space (along with all wildlife on the lake). Please enjoy observing them from afar, but not follow them or approach them with your vessel. Let’s do all we can to keep our loons safe, and work to create an environment to support a nesting pair so we can see baby chicks riding on the backs of their proud parents, as in the photo above.
Here is Eric Hanson's presentation about loons at the LSCA's 2022 Annual Meeting & Dinner: