Galwegians- November 2021

The Galway Hall Board had its first ‘in-person’ board meeting since January 2020 on September 27th. It was good to meet at the Hall again. All COVID-19 protocols, outlined in our safety plan, were followed. Not surprisingly, the annual turkey supper was cancelled for the second year in a row. The Annual General Meeting for the Galway Hall is scheduled for Monday, November 29th, beginning at 7 pm. The Galway Hall is open. However, any group planning to use the Galway Hall must submit a safety plan to the Municipality for approval prior to booking a date. Also, no one may enter the Galway Hall without proof of full vaccination and identification.

The Kinmount and District Bursary Committee also held its first ‘in-person’ meeting since the onset of COVID-19, also on September 27th. This committee postponed their major fundraising dinner/auction that was scheduled for Saturday, February 5th, 2022. Tentatively, this fundraiser has been moved to Saturday, February 11th. Two students were successful applicants for the fall semester 2021. The deadline for the winter semester applications is Monday, November 15th, 2021.

The mild temperatures for the first half of October have brought a few surprises from nature- like mosquitoes still biting, a crow cawing, and three sweet peas still flowering!

The chipmunks continue to be very active. A white-crowned sparrow was spotted under our bird feeder for part of one day. Sadly, a hermit thrush was found dead along the side of Clear Bay Road. It must have been struck by a vehicle. Both of these species have been added to the Galway and Area Wildlife Inventory list. Have you noticed the large number of mushrooms and fungi in all shapes, sizes, and colours growing almost everywhere in our area this fall? Did you know that there are over 5 000 varieties found in Ontario and some of these species are poisonous?

Years ago, while lamenting the introduction of invasive species to our lake and area, a limnologist once told me about the patterns these intruders follow. Whether it is Eurasian Milfoil, Rock Bass, Purple Loosestrife, or Zebra Mussels, these invaders establish themselves, and then explode in numbers, plateau, and then decline in numbers, eventually finding their niche in their new habitat. Crystal Lake has witnessed this cycle with the weeds, the fish, and the plants. Now the lake is in at least the fourth year of the cycle of zebra mussel with reports of more and more mussels being found from all parts of the lake.

How could these invaders get into a land-locked lake such as Crystal? Zebra mussels are hitch-hikers! They attach to the hulls, motor mounts, ropes, anchors and may be in the bilge waters of water craft that may have come from an infected area. Publicizing and promotion, boat launches that are not monitored, climate change, visiting water craft frequency and apathy are all contributing factors as well.

In a chance meeting with a reader of the Kinmount Gazette, the question was posed as to where I find ‘stuff’ to write about for this article. Well, sometimes ‘stuff’ finds me! For example, this next story may be either categorized under “Never a dull moment” or “Why me?”

On the first weekend in October, our two juvenile loons briefly appeared (at different times) in our bay on the Saturday. An adult loon was also around but it was acting strange and appeared to be not well. A couple of neighbours came over in the morning and expressed their concerns. With lessons learned (from a previous rescue attempt of a trumpeter swan), I was all for Mother Nature to take charge and deal with this and she was ready. A bald eagle appeared and made a fly past over the bay.

However, by early afternoon, I was in our fishing boat, approaching this loon to check it out. I did not get very close to it before it dove. Again, another lesson learned from the previous swan experience was this. If the bird can dive, it cannot be caught. So, I was done and went on with my day. Or at least that was my thinking.

Sunday morning, there was no sign of this adult. A canoe paddle confirmed this loon was not around in our area. However, the loon came back in the afternoon and stayed for the rest of the day until darkness fell. It was just floating or resting for much of the time. The bald eagle did another fly past of Clear Bay on Sunday, much to displeasure of the many Canada geese feeding in the back bays.

Monday morning came and there was no sign of the adult loon. Around 4 pm, the bald eagle perched on one of the pine trees on the island in front of our place. Sitting on the bench on our deck, I decided to watch the eagle. After a few minutes, and with the eagle staying put in the pine, I chose to move on. Peering over the edge of the deck, there was the adult loon up on the shore. Obviously not a good sign (since loons only come on shore to nest or die), quick action was needed. I phoned the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary which is located north of Minden. Their advice to me was to put on gloves, grab a large towel, place the towel over the loon, pick the bird up, and place it in a large container for transport. Within 20 minutes, the loon and I were heading to Minden.

Upon arriving at the sanctuary, one staff member met me and gathered information while another two members gathered the loon and took it immediately to be treated. This adult loon survived the night but died later in the week. The suspected cause of death was starvation. The thought is that by the time the loon came ashore, it was too emaciated to recover. The Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary said that it had more loons brought to them this year than in previous years. Almost all of the loons they have dealt with have been suffering from starvation.

Every story should have a moral or a take-away. From the eagle’s viewpoint, people should not interfere with the ebbs and flows of the natural rhythms of life. From the loon’s perspective, it was sick and came up on our shore seeking a fate other than becoming the eagle’s early Thanksgiving dinner. As for me, I believe this loon picked me, hoping that I would do something.

It is hard to comprehend that starvation due to lack of fish could be a cause. However, if one considers the pressures placed upon the fish stocks of a land-locked lake from a myriad of sources, plus the fact that a family of four loons, over a fifteen week period, may consume up to half a ton of fish, this grim reality is too real.  

Jupiter continues to chase Saturn across the southern night skies. November has more meteor showers on display. On November 4th and 5th, the Southern Taurid meteors show peaks, followed by the Northern Taurid meteor show on November 11th and 12th. On November 17th, the Leonid meteor shower is at its peak. On November 19th, there is a rare partial lunar eclipse of the Full Beaver Moon, the likes of which have not been seen in over 500 years. The penultimate word from the University of Alberta’s top 12 funniest words for 2020 is “zoom”. It is a verb. Its meaning is to communicate with a person or group of people over the internet, typically by video chatting, using the Zoom application.

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