Author Archive

Lake Fairlee Loons Nest for the Fourth Year

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

The pair of loons who have frequented Lake Fairlee for four consecutive years returned in late April while skims of ice were still visible on parts of the lake. These are presumably the same loons who successfully hatched chicks starting in 2016. They seemed right at home and pleased to find their nesting raft freshly refoliated and waiting for them in the cove between the northern end of Treasure Island and the Tifft/MacAdam property’s wet meadow.

After some back and forth conflicts with marauding geese, our loons began nesting full time on May 14. It was the earliest confirmed report of nesting loons in Vermont this year, according to Eric Hanson, head of the Vermont Loon Conservation Project. With a gestation period of 28 days, the eggs will yield one or two loons chicks by June 10 if all goes well. The nesting raft was set up by Eric and local volunteers in 2017 and is visible from Route 244 at the base of the hill before the Treasure Island entrance. Five warning buoys furnished by the Loon Conservation Project are arrayed around the cove warning boaters to keep their distance.

Loon sitting on nest with sign in the background: "Loon nesting area. Please stay away."

Nesting loon on May 17, 2019. Photo by Ben McLaughlin.

This past year, the Fairlee loons hatched two chicks, much to the delight of lake residents who phoned in regular reports of their rapid growth under the watchful eye and tutelage of the loon parents. There were only 97 loon chicks reported in Vermont (73 surviving to late August) from 66 successful hatches out of 91 nest attempts in 2018. In 2017, there were 97 nesting pairs of loons with 92 chicks surviving, which was something of a banner year.

The Fairlee loons first nested in 2016 on the sandbar at the mouth of Blood Brook and were fully documented by local naturalist and photographer Tig Tillinghast. He placed a remote camera on the shore across from their nest that captured an image every 10 seconds as part of a study to monitor both wildlife and human interaction with the vulnerable loons. They hatched a single chick that year.

The following year, with lake levels higher, the loons returned but could not nest on the submerged sandbar. They instead established a nest on the island portion of Treasure Island, but it appears a raccoon made off with the eggs. Alerted to this by local observers, Eric and his interns quickly determined that a second nesting attempt might still be possible by positioning a specially designed raft off the northern shore. This artificial assistance is only offered when a nesting pair has shown itself successful without human help. The nesting raft worked and the Fairlee loons produced another chick that summer of 2017.

While most of the credit goes to our dauntless loon parents, the watchful care of Lake Fairlee residents also deserves recognition. Every year more and more  reports come in showing how observant and protective we are towards our loons. Our lake was not considered an ideal loon nesting lake because preferred nesting sites (islands and marshes) are near where people like to be — such as Treasure Island — and the marshes are not full of hummocks for potential nest sites. Lake Fairlee is also very busy during the summer months. However, through the placement of the nesting raft in the most out-of-the way place and lots of outreach, we have shown that loons and people can co-exist with a little help.

Eric has posted a “wish list” for this season’s work:
1.) blue foam blocks such as those used under floats and docks are needed to be placed under nesting rafts each year as they become waterlogged;
2.) a 12-foot fishing boat for loon rescues that Eric could transport in the back of his truck and attach a trolling motor to.
If you can help with either of these items, contact Doug Tifft ( or Eric Hanson (

Submitted by Doug Tifft.

Greeter Program Catches New Invasive

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Cabomba Carolininia (Fanwort) was found on boat from out of state, and kept out of our lake — at least for now.  This wonderful story is best told in a series of emails.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From: Wanda Vaughn, Lake Fairlee Greeter
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2018 8:30 PM
To: [Joe Taft and Josh Mulhollen, State of VT]
Subject: Different Invasive?

Dear Josh and Joe,
I found this weed on a trailer entering Lake Fairlee this afternoon. It seems like a slightly different plant than our Eurasian Watermilfoil. The owner was last in Baddacook Pond in Groton, Massachusetts one week ago.
Although the boat was otherwise very clean, and I removed all the visible weed from his trailer, I still told the owner that I found a suspicious weed and needed him to go somewhere to wash his boat and trailer in hot water if he insisted on entering the lake. He did leave and was gone over an hour to a car wash. His boat and trailer had been washed well on his return.

When I got home tonight and back to cell and internet service I looked up Baddacook Pond (LINK) and did discover they are working on invasives Fanwort and Variable-leaf Watermilfoil.

What are your thoughts? I have the specimen at home if you decide you would like it mailed. I am hoping I just over-reacted to Eurasian Watermilfoil or a non-invasive plant I’m just not familiar with yet. I look forward to your reply.

Wanda Vaughan
Lake Fairlee Greeter



[click on images for larger view]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From: Mulhollem, Josh
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2018 12:56 PM
To: Wanda Vaughan [and others]
Subject: RE: Different Invasive?


I am hesitant to say for sure based on the photos, but I suspect that you indeed found fanwort, Cabomba carolininia. You are correct that Baddacook Pond is dealing with a sizable population of this species, so it’s certainly possible. And it doesn’t look like dried up Eurasian watermilfoil, or anything else that we typically see coming off boats.

First of all, this is an outstanding catch by you, as Vermont is one of three states east of the Mississippi that has yet to have a confirmed fanwort population. Kudos on a job well done. Secondly, would you or someone from the Association be able to mail me the specimen? I’d like to dry to rehydrate it and take a closer look.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[The sample was bagged and mailed, and a week later this arrived from an environmental scientist who specializes in Aquatic Invasive Species Management]

From: Kimberly Jensen
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2018 8:30 PM
To: Wanda Vaughn
Subject: Different Invasive?

Hi Wanda,

Excellent Catch! Josh asked me to identify the sample that you provided, thanks for sending it along. I added some water to the specimen to get a better look and it is indeed Fanwort, Cabomba carolininia. The opposite branching pattern is hard to miss. It’s amazing that adding water livened the specimen, demonstrating how viable these plants may stay after a length of time. We truly appreciate your outstanding efforts to search, find, question, and then prevent the potential introduction of an aquatic invasive species into Lake Fairlee. Your diligence shows exactly how the Greeter Program and Greeters like you, are the best front to stopping potential new threats to Vermont’s waterbodies. Thank you so much for your hard work.

Please be sure to send me any other questionable specimens, we trust you will be on guard!


Kim Jensen

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From: Wanda Vaughan
Date: August 21, 2018 at 11:15:23 AM EDT
To: Kimberly Jensen, Joe Taft, and Josh Mulhollen
Subject: Re: Different Invasive?

Dear Kimberly and Josh,

I am so grateful it got intercepted.  Any of our Greeters would have done the same thing. I can’t believe it lasted a week on a trailer axle that traveled from Massachusetts.

In review, every cell in my body wanted to tell this boater to not come into our lake AT ALL.

I did follow protocol by taking off all the specimens I could see and the boater did go to the Bradford Car Wash to wash the boat and trailer in hot water.

However, in the future could I tell a boater they could not come in the lake?  This boater was already annoyed but he did do what I asked.  What are your thoughts?  I am so scared I missed a tiny piece and it is now in our beautiful lake.  Thank you again for all the support your office provides us.  I am back in my Kindergarten classroom and will miss all of you.  See you next May!


Good evidence that our greeter program is working!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LFA Fundraiser 2018

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Dear Lake Fairlee Association Members and Friends,

The popular glasses and cutting boards introduced last summer are on sale again, along with some nice looking coasters! Orders must be received by July 1 and picked up at the July 28th Annual Meeting. If you cannot attend, please arrange for someone to pick up your items for you.
Questions? email

The order form is here. Please print it out and mail it according to the directions on the form.
(Note: Orders received after July 1 are not guaranteed to be filled.)

Items for Sale


New Item!   $30.00/set of 4

Coasters – bamboo

One each of 4 designs

(lake, loon, canoe, balloon)

·      3.5 inch x 3.5 inch


$45.00/set of 3   Cutting Boards – bamboo

One each of 3 designs

(canoe, balloon, loon)

·      8 inch x 6 inch

·      11 inch x 8.5 inch

·      13 inch x 9.5 inch



$45.00/set of 4

Stemless Wine Glasses 15 oz.

One each of 4 designs

(lake, loon, canoe, balloon)


$45.00/set of 4

Pint Glasses 16 oz.

One each of 4 designs

(lake, loon, canoe, balloon)



Thank you for supporting the Lake Fairlee Association!

A Loon on her Nest

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Can hatchlings be far behind?

s-3jun18 4 loon nesting at the northwest corner of Lake Fairlee

Photo by David Matthews

Herbicide Treatment Details for 2018

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

The Lake Fairlee Association has received approval from the State to apply triclopyr to the lake to help control the growth of Eurasian milfoil.  The treatment will take place on Monday, June 11, beginning at 9:00 am.  It will require the effective closure of the lake to all activities for two days, and certain restrictions for several weeks.  See the Notice to Abutting Landowners below.

This years treatment is pursuant to and governed by a permit issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation in 2015, which you can read about HERE.


(Click on image above for full size version)

Success! We have one loon chick.

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

This morning I observed an adult loon near the nesting raft swimming with a single loon chick. As I observed, the chick swam behind the adult and then tucked in under a lifted wing. The adult then swam a little ahead and the chick quickly caught up again. Unless there was another chick still in the nest or perhaps under the other wing, it would appear that we have just one chick from this year’s efforts. We have kept an eye on the nesting loons several times each day and this is the first sighting of a chick. At all other times there was a loon on the nest while the other one was either down the lake or swimming nearby. The only change in behavior during the past couple days is that the loon on the nest was more often sitting upright and turning its head back and forth in a more vigilant manner (as opposed to the usual posture of hunkering down low with its head parallel to the water). Also, yesterday evening the second loon was lingering very close to the nesting raft rather than venturing off. This suggested to us that something was different.

The nesting raft worked wonderfully (even during the recent high water following the floods this past weekend) and this particular corner of the north end was well protected and easy to cordon off with the six warning buoys you gave us. I observed a variety of boats in the area but they always respected the signs. The vegetation on the raft provided good shelter and shade on hot days. Good work!

(above is a letter from a nearby resident to the scientist from Vermont Center for Ecostudies who has been so helpful)

Our Young Loon is Learning to Fly

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Just in time for his/her first migration.


Photo: Jim and Sharon Morgan

Update on the Dam

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

The dam reconstruction project that began earlier this summer is nearing completion.

Corrected by Perfectly Clear on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 6:32:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time

The large crane has been removed.  All sections of the dam have been completed.  The new walkway across the auxiliary spillway is in place.

The photo timeline of the project has been updated HERE.

Q and A with Loon Expert Eric Hanson

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Inspired by the Lake Fairlee loons, Vermont’s loon expert was kind enough to answer some (mostly serious) questions for Northern Woodlands about loons generally.



Click on the image above to read the interview with Eric Hanson, a biologist for the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, on the Northern Woodlands website.

Pictures of our Loon Chick

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Photo by Tig Tillinghast

Finally some photos of our lake’s newest resident.  S/he has been seen at many locations on the lake, in the company of one or both parents.

The juveniles are able to catch their own fish within two months and take flight at about 11 weeks. They are fully on their own at 12 weeks, when the parents begin migration in the fall. At this time, the young form flocks on northern lakes and follow suit a few weeks later. Once they reach the coastal ocean waters, the loons remain there for two years, returning in the third to the northern lakes where they were born to live a routine adult life.

The following photos were supplied by Jim and Sharon Morgan, taken from their dock, on August 24th.   The chick is probably about four weeks old.

With both parents

With both parents


They are clearly beginning flight training and the chick now dives for 10 - 15 seconds

They are clearly beginning flight training and the chick now dives for 10 – 15 seconds