Letter to Rob Wilson - by Jim Martin of Westlock, Alberta

Rob Wilson   wrote to Jim Martin of Westlock, Alberta,  regarding Martinís  study on  loons and grebes  in Long Island Lake, Alberta.  Rob Wilson received the following response.  

Thank you Rob for your kind and inspiring words. I am now trying to work up the energy to summarize and compile my data and observations from 2001 thru 2006, so that the long awaited 6 year study results can be released. Some improvements in boating behavior, some recognition of certain bays as sensitive natural areas plus some education thru signs, brochures and newspaper articles have improved the situation on Long Island Lake somewhat. However much remains to be done to ensure the survival of loons on small lakes like this. 

The boats continue to get bigger and to run longer hours and there is increasing mortality to eggs, young and adults. Some of the adult mortality appears to be due to collisions with high speed boats, and some of this may be a result of the new trend to late night boating under flood light arrays on tournament ski boats. Weekend noise and wave disturbance  lasting continuously from 10 am to midnight, with boat pass frequencies of 1 boat per minute also takes its toll on chicks and juveniles. Overall I am finding approx. 25 % survival rates for loons from egg to fledgling stage, which is within in the accepted range of long term population dynamics - however a biologically rich and sheltered lake like Long Island Lake is one that should be a "net exporter" of young to the overall population.

 

Red-necked Grebe 

  Photo by Rob Wilson

"Red-necked grebes have been fairing worse each year since 2001, but boats are just part of the problem stressing these birds." - Jim Martin

Red-necked grebes have been fairing worse each year since 2001, but boats are just part of the problem stressing these birds. They compete with loons for less available habitat each year and have also suffered migration catastrophes. Lack of beaver control also reduces lily pad beds for floating nests. Combine all this with 10 boat waves per minute on weekends through some of the best grebe habitat and grebes are left not fairing very well compared to even 2001 when I began making detailed observations and records. I thank you for your interest in my study and I will see that you receive a copy of my six year results. 


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