THE MOLT IS ON!
February is my favorite month with the loons.
January’s flight feather molt is complete and now begins the molt of the rest of the loons’ winter attire, as they dress up for summer breeding season. The antics involved in the loons’ efforts to rid themselves of their tired old winter threads can be quite amusing. And if you watch carefully, you can see the rise of breeding season hormones, as things can get a bit testy between the loons, from now until they depart. The loons that reside at the mouth of the Horsepasture River are already showing significant molting, whereas loons in the adjacent waters at the mouth of the upper Toxaway are not. Just one of the many mysteries that reside within the magic of loons.
SPRING HARBINGERS! It’s not just the diminutive, lovely Oconee Bells that signal the beginning of spring on Lake Jocassee, but the arrival of Bonaparte’s gulls as well. The smallest and most beautiful of all the gulls that inhabit our part of the world, they migrate through in fall, and return in spring as they head to the boreal forests far to our north. But it’s not spring yet, right? Then what explains the rafts of migrating ducks we saw on Friday, too distant to identify, but definitely on the move. Oconee Bells are already blooming in the SC Botanical Gardens. An early spring seems to be on its way.~B