Megunticook Watershed Association

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Signs of Spring?

Posted on | March 10, 2017 | Comments Off on Signs of Spring?

Get yer Ice Out guess in yet?? The lake is opening up and there are signs of spring everywhere. However… in the interests of full disclosure, NOAA weather has issued a Hazardous Weather Advisory. Tomorrow’s high is predicted to be 9 degrees with wind gusts to 45 mph. Oh, and plowable snow Tuesday and Wednesday.

But, getting back to spring and the Ice Out Contest. The Canada Geese are flying around looking for open water, and the Turkey Vultures have returned to the cliffs on Megunticook. So be a prognosticator and send in your guess as to the day and time the ice will be out on Megunticook. Send your guess to, Dale is the final arbiter of Ice Out.

Thanks to member Roger Wickenden for the pics from Maiden’s Cliff. Here’s a link to a quick video from last weekend along the Turnpike when it was 10 degrees and blowing Colddd!

Be safe and see you on the water (maybe soon?)


Why an Apple a Day Could be Bad for a Barred Owl

Posted on | March 8, 2017 | Comments Off on Why an Apple a Day Could be Bad for a Barred Owl

February 23, 2017 at 1:03 pm by Emily MacCabe

By Wildlife Biologist Erynn Call

Owl1-200x300Have you ever thrown an apple core out the car window and thought it was a harmless action, or maybe even a nice snack for a little critter?  Tossing out edible tidbits while driving can threaten wildlife, particularly raptors such as hawks and owls.  These birds are attracted to roadways as they provide convenient perches on power lines with clear views of their prey.  Vegetation is cut short and in winter roadsides make for easy hunting grounds as there is less snow.  If the surrounding landscape is covered in ice, capturing prey is challenging as rodents scamper underneath an impenetrable crusty layer.  Roads then become an even more appealing dining locale.

Adding food scraps increases the number of rodents and the chance of crossing paths with a car while swooping across the roadway.  Because this roadside hunting approach is easier than dodging through a field or forest after a meal, younger, inexperienced birds are often more susceptible to vehicle collisions.  One raptor that seems to be in this predicament often is the Barred Owl.  Avian Haven, a bird rehabilitator located in Freedom Maine, admitted 80 Barred Owls in 2015!

If you are fortunate enough to see a mid-sized (20 inch) owl, you can bet it’s this one.  The Barred Owl is one of Maine’s most common owl species.   Their distinguishing features include dark brown eyes, brown and white striped feathers, and lack of ear tufts (Great Horned Owls have these).  Their hooting call sounds like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”  Pairs mate for life and during courtship the male and female call together.  They do not migrate and often reuse nests of other raptors, crows, and squirrels.   Cavities created by Pileated Woodpeckers make ideal locations for a Barred Owl nest.


In Maine, courtship begins in February, two to four eggs are laid in April and hatch about a month later.  After some initial exploration on nearby branches the young owls are ready five weeks after hatching to fledge or fly from the nest.  They are still cared for by the parents and tend to hang out in the parents territory while learning to hunt.  In total, parents care for the owlets for at least four months.  When the young are ready to be independent and settle into their own territory they don’t travel too far from their parents, typically less than six miles away.  The lifespan of a Barred Owl may be ten years or more, and they have been documented living up to 32 years in captivity.


Barred Owls typically hunt at dawn, dusk, or at night but will also search for food during the day.  Forests in spring, summer, and fall and provide a variety of delectable meals such as chipmunks, mice, voles, salamanders, frogs, and invertebrates.  A fish in shallow water might even need to watch out for an adventurous wading Barred Owl.  In winter, while some of these creatures are inaccessible, Barred Owls switch their diet to rodents and hone in on roadside hunting.  This menu is dangerous as collisions with passing vehicles are much more likely.
The number of owls you see can change annually based upon natural fluctuations in population abundances.  This rise and fall is related to complex factors such as interactions between weather patterns, seed production, and rodent populations.  Barred Owls are plentiful and doing well, and according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey their populations increased 1.5% between 1966 and 2014.   While they are a very common species, and populations are not in danger, your actions can directly benefit these beautiful birds!

What you can do to help Barred Owls and all birds of prey, on the roadways and beyond:

  1. Avoid throwing food out your car window.
  2. Be an alert driver and keep a keen eye on your surroundings.
  3. Keep your distance if you see an owl. It’s always best to avoid disturbing any wildlife – a quick photo could mean the animal has to expend valuable energy distancing itself or missing a chance at a meal.
  4. Avoid using rat poison – many raptors, including owls are killed by consuming poisoned rodents. Learn more by visiting
  5. Learn more about Barred Owls and other birds of prey by visiting the MDIFW web page or


Megunticook Ice Out Contest!

Posted on | March 1, 2017 | Comments Off on Megunticook Ice Out Contest!


By the looks of the pics at the bottom of this post, spring, and ice out may be here soon.  But then again, what do I know, I’ve never won the Ice Out Contest!


The Megunticook Lake Watershed Association is once again sponsoring an “Ice Out” contest.  The person who guesses closest to date and time the ice goes out on Megunticook Lake will win a $100.00 gift certificate from Maine Sport and a year’s subscription to the Camden Herald.  The second best guess prize is a $50.00 gift certificate from Viking Lumber with area stores in Lincolnville, Warren, and Belfast.

“Ice Out” is called when a boat can navigate in open water from the outlet dams to the Ken Bailey Bridge where Norton Pond empties into the lake.

Contestants can send their entries to or P.O. Box 443, Camden ME 04843.

When sending your entry please include your full name and contact number.  Get your entries in as soon as possible, after our recent warm-up the ice might not last long this year.  But, if you are a gambling sort, we will accept entries up to 24 hours from the Ice-Out time.  Please, one entry per person.  Our Lake Warden, Dale Dougherty, will call “Ice Out”.

Good Luck!

Here’s a list of recent Ice-Out dates.

19808-Apr199930-Mar(4:22 p.m.)
198130-Mar20001-Apr(6:25 p.m.)
198220-Apr200125-Apr(5:38 a.m.)
19836-Apr200229-Mar(10:45 a.m.)
198420-Apr200320-Apr(3:00 p.m.)
19854-Apr200417-Apr(12:35 p.m.)
19866-Apr200514-Apr(4:00 p.m.)
198713-Apr200628-Mar(5:30 p.m.)
19889-Apr200724-Apr(11:45 a.m.)
198913-Apr200817-Apr(6:34 p.m.)
19907-Apr200913-Apr(2:40 p.m.)
19916-Apr201019-Mar(5:02 p.m.)
199221-Apr(4:30 p.m.)201114-Apr(9:50 a.m.)
199323-Apr(8:15 a.m.)201219-Mar(1:25 p.m.)
199416-Apr(10:44 a.m.)201310-Apr(4:55 P.M.)
19953-Apr(6:05 p.m.)201415-Apr(9:55 A.M.)
199612-Apr(7:50 p.m.)201520-Apr1:58 PM
199720-Apr(11:20 a.m.)201611-Mar5:03 PM
199831-Mar(12:30 p.m.)

Warden’s Report- February

Posted on | February 28, 2017 | Comments Off on Warden’s Report- February

Hello MWAers, hope everyone is having a wonderful winter.  Been a bit of a weather roller coaster the last few weeks.  January was cool and dry, most of February was snowy, and the past week or so felt like April!

In January the lake and ponds were getting a lot of use with skating, hockey, ice boating, and fishing.  MLK weekend was amazing with large numbers of folks enjoying the glass smooth ice.  February’s snowy weather brought good snowmobiling, snowshoeing and xc-skiing around the Watershed.

Last week Megunticook Lake has 5 inches of snow and 14 inches of ice. The ice settled under the weight of the snow and some slushy spots were around. On Norton pond I found 5 inches of snow, then water on top of the ice.  The slushy spots show up as darker looking areas on the snow surface. Snowmobilers should always be careful when stopping on the lake not to get stuck in the slush.

Fishing has been very good with reports of 2 lb. Rainbows and 14 inch Brook Trout caught on worms and shiners (small bait fish).  On the River at Hodson Park folks were  fishing with rod and reel.  Their kids were playing in the snow while the adults fished the open water below the bridge

BUT   warm weather over the last week has caused the snow, and lake and pond ice, to melt.  Temperatures from 40 to over 50 degrees melted most of the snow and opened up the brooks. The rise in water level has lifted the ice away from the shore.  Open water can be seen along the edges of all the local lakes and ponds.  Reports over the weekend showed ice depths falling to 6 to 10 inches.  The rain in the forecast over the next few days will mean more melting, unstable ice.

Have fun in the Watershed and catch big fish; and keep a sharp watch for the Bald Eagles around the shore line sitting in the tops of trees.

BUT   Be safe, extra caution should be used on the ice, especially near the shore.

Warden Dale Dougherty

Winter Storm Warning

Posted on | February 12, 2017 | Comments Off on Winter Storm Warning

NOAA Weather has issued a Winter Storm Warning for our Watershed starting at 2:00 PM today until 4:00 AM Monday.  Then things get fun with a Blizzard Watch until 9:00 PM Monday.  We’re expecting lots of snow and wind.

It might be a good idea to check (or have someone check) on camp roofs as some of this snow has the potential to be heavy and wet.
So stay safe during the storm and we’ll have a Warden’s Report from Dale following the storm.



* HAZARD TYPES…Heavy snow, strong winds, and blowing snow.

* Accumulations…Snow Accumulations of 18 to 26 inches

* TIMING… Snow will begin this afternoon and become heavy at
times overnight and Monday. Winds will increase and become
strong late Sunday night and Monday and allow for blowing and
drifting along with very low visibilities.

* IMPACTS…Treacherous travel, low visibilities, and the
potential for power outages. Blizzard conditions will be
possible late Sunday night and Monday. The snow may be heavy
and wet for a time Sunday afternoon and night along the coast
which could lead to power outages.

* Winds…North 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.

* Temperatures…In the 20s.

* Visibilities…one quarter mile or less at times.

2017- Warden’s Report- Skating and Fishing

Posted on | January 19, 2017 | Comments Off on 2017- Warden’s Report- Skating and Fishing


All is well around the watershed, the ice has firmed up nicely on the lake and ponds. The ice fishing folks were the first ones out on the ice, soon followed by skaters and skiers. The water level has been up and down several times over the last few weeks due to a few big rain storms. This has caused the ice to buckle and break along the shoreline. Caution is advised near shore and getting out onto the ice.
Fishing for brook trout this fall and winter in the local ponds has been great thanks to fall stocking by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W). Ponds all over have been stocked with brook trout some as large as 20 inches. Check the stocking reports available here ME Stocking Report 2016 and ME Stocking Report Brood 2016.
The posting of membership signs is moving along well without any deep snow, and I hope to soon use the snowmobile for posting and patrolling. I have it ready to go at Camp Rabbit, but more ice and some snow would help.
I`m seeing lots of bald eagles around the watershed. They come to eat the bait and fish that icefishers leave on the ice. A word of caution to those fishing on the hardwater; protect those fish you want to take home for supper! I heard of one fisherman who pulled a beautiful 20” brookie out of a hole. As soon as he had the hook out another flag went up. As he hustled over to the next trap to play that fish an eagle swooped down and took off with his trophy!
Hey, if you catch a black crappie feed it to the eagles (or yourself, they’re good eating). They have been illegally introduced to our watershed and are now here to stay. But keeping the population down will help our native fish compete. Send pictures of any fish you catch this winter, especially black crappie to the Lake Warden at
Finally, the U.S. Coast Guard is offering boating safety classes this winter Boater Safety Course. Classes for small and big boats are available. This is also a great time to check your boat and clean off any ice or snow on the cover. Check the bilge for ice and water. Better to find a small problem now than a big one in the spring.

When heading out on the waters of the Megunticook Watershed have fun and be safe. Warden Dale Dougherty

Ice-In and Ice Safety

Posted on | December 21, 2016 | Comments Off on Ice-In and Ice Safety

Both Norton Pond and Megunticook are buttoned up after our last cold snap.  However, we urge all of you to use extreme caution if you venture out on the ice.  Here’s a clip of Lake Warden Dale Dougherty from last week (at the 4:21 mark)

Ice Safety:

General Ice Thickness Guidelines – For New, Clear Ice Only:

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ May allow Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5″ often allows for Snowmobile or ATV travel
8″ – 12″ of good ice with supports most Cars or small pickups
12″ – 15″ will likely hold a Medium sized truck.

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice (otherwise known as “black ice”). Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.  Currently the ice is about half black ice and half refrozen, cloudy ice, so the strength of the ice is less than the Guidelines above.12-20-16-05

When going out on the ice, tell someone your plans (leave a note on  your windshield with your plans), wear a PFD under your coat.  Get some ice picks and a throw bag.  Be Safe, be Smart!  Here are a couple of videos about self rescue:  ice picks       throw bag.


From the Maine Warden Service-

What if someone else falls in?

If someone else falls through and you are the only one around to help? First, call 911 for help. There is a good chance someone near you may be carrying a cell phone.

  • Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole. This would most likely result in two victims in the water. Also, do not risk your life to attempt to save a pet or other animal.
  • Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go
  • PREACH – Shout to the victim to encourage them to fight to survive and reassure them that help is on the way.
  • REACH – If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, ladder, or jumper cables to the victim. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.
  • THROW – Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.
  • ROW – Find a light boat to push across the ice ahead of you. Push it to the edge of the hole, get into the boat and pull the victim in over the bow. It’s not a bad idea to attach some rope to the boat, so others can help pull you and the victim to safety.
  • GO – A non-professional should not go out on the ice to perform a rescue unless all other basic rescue techniques have been ruled out.

If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform the rescue, call 911 for help, keep reassuring the victim that help is on the way, and urge them to fight to survive. Heroics by well-meaning but untrained rescuers sometimes result in two deaths.

New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.

Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.

Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges, and culverts. In addition, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.

Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.

Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.

If your car or truck plunges through the ice, the best time to escape is before it sinks, not after. It will stay afloat a few seconds to several minutes depending on the airtightness of the vehicle.

  • While the car is still afloat, the best escape hatches are the side windows since the doors may be held shut by the water pressure. If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.
  • A vehicle with its engine in the front will sink at a steep angle and may land on its roof if the water is 15 feet or deeper. As the car starts its final plunge to the bottom, water rapidly displaces the remaining air. An air bubble can stay in a submerged vehicle, but it is unlikely that it would remain by the time the car hits the bottom.
  • When the car is completely filled, the doors may be a little easier to open unless they are blocked by mud and silt. Remember too, chances are that the car will be upside down at this point! Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished. This underscores the necessity of getting out of the car before it starts to sink!

The following guidelines can help you make wise choices:

  • Check for known thin ice areas with a local resort or bait shop.
  • Test the thickness yourself using an ice chisel or ice auger.
  • Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.
  • If you must drive a vehicle, be prepared to leave it in a hurry–keep windows down, unbuckle your seat belt and have a simple emergency plan of action you have discussed with your passengers.
  • Stay away from alcoholic beverages.
  • Even “just a couple of beers” are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life. And contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder rather than warming you up.
  • Don’t “overdrive” your snowmobile’s headlight.
  • At even 30 miles per hour, it can take a much longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated the hole in the ice.
  • Wear a life vest under your winter gear.
  • Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits. And it’s a good idea to carry a pair of ice picks that may be home made or purchased from most well stocked sporting goods stores that cater to winter anglers. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to pull yourself back onto the surface of unbroken but wet and slippery ice while wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 lbs of water. The ice picks really help pulling yourself back onto solid ice. CAUTION: Do NOT wear a flotation device when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle!

Update on Loon Rescue

Posted on | December 20, 2016 | Comments Off on Update on Loon Rescue

Sad news from Avian Haven. Looking for a news year resolution?  Get rid of all the lead in your tackle box.



COLO 2418 Megunticook Lake
The Common Loon rescued from Megunticook Lake on Friday, December 16, did not survive her encounter with lead fishing tackle. She died overnight last night.

This is the sinker we flushed from her gizzard, a 1/8-ounce chunk of illegal fishing gear. The sale AND use of this type of gear was banned in 2013. Please be informed of Maine laws regarding the use of lead fishing tackle. Even if you don’t fish, it’s important information to know, and share.

Fish Lead-Free is a region-wide initiative to help anglers switch to lead-free tackle:

The State of Maine Lead Sinker Law and its interpretation:

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes for the loon. It is always a terrible heartbreak for everyone at Avian Haven when our best efforts are futile, and we lose one of these innocent beauties.

Loon Rescue

Posted on | December 18, 2016 | Comments Off on Loon Rescue

Avian Haven posted this on Facebook yesterday. The Loon was up in the Trout Hole past Chaney’s Narrows. Doug and Lake Warden Dale tried unsuccessfully to capture the Loon on Thursday. But Doug got her early Friday. Way to go Doug!

COLO 2418 Megunticook Lake
Another Common Loon arrived at Avian Haven yesterday, this one not as lucky as the Partridge Lake loon we posted earlier today. This adult loon was getting iced-in on Megunticook Lake, as reported to us late Thursday afternoon by Doug Gilson. At the time, the loon still had just enough open water to evade capture, but overnight temperatures were headed for sub-zero. Doug says he didn’t sleep well that night, but he was up at dawn to look for the loon again. He found her resting on top of the ice, close to shore, and was able to capture and transport her to Avian Haven.

We found no obvious injuries so we were puzzled as to why this adult bird had lingered too long on the lake. We gave her a few minutes in the pool to swim and drink, then we took an x-ray. We were horrified to discover that the loon had ingested lead fishing gear! We also did blood work, and her blood lead level was off the scale of our screening instrument. In the x-ray, you can see several pieces of hook, but the lead sinker is not as easy to see among the pebbles in her gizzard. The blue arrow on the x-ray photo shows the location of the sinker. We were able to remove it by gastric lavage yesterday afternoon, and gave her a chelating agent to help lower the lead level. But with a lead level that high, prognosis is guarded. We’ll continue with supportive care, while she alternates between resting on a soft mat near the Pool Hall heater and having some swim time in a heated pool.

Thank you, Doug Gilson, for rescuing this loon – you were her angel!

Warden’s Report December 2016

Posted on | December 12, 2016 | Comments Off on Warden’s Report December 2016

Well, when it rains in the Fall it pours! The Megunticook Watershed has recovered from the summer drought.  Rains of recent weeks have raised the lake, pond, and river to near full pool. Small brooks and gullies ran wild, overflowing their banks with leaves clogging their main channels. 12-12-16-0212-12-16-04

12-12-16-03The ground drank up the water and soon those same wild brooks were again moving slowly. The groundwater table is still low, and, after such a dry summer it may take some time before wells are full again. The lake has a new look with the water levels back, things just look better.

The fishing was good this fall after the water cooled some. Both bass and trout were caught near the surface. There are still lots of ducks and geese on the water. The Megunticook River is a safe haven for ducks and geese this time of year as there is no hunting pressure.  Soon the ice will limit their space to small pockets and birds are forced to the saltwater or south.12-12-16-01

We have removed all the navigation buoys in the watershed. They have been cleaned, sorted and stowed for the winter. There are roughly 50 buoys on the lake and pond.  We also assisted the towns of Camden and Lincolnville with removing their swim area floats and buoy systems.  The patrol boat, after the engine has been serviced and winterized, will be stowed for the winter until ice out next spring.

Now that the snow is flying it’s time to transition to winter patrolling.  Hopefully we’ll have enough snow for the snowmobile this winter; it is also getting serviced for the upcoming winter season. The snowmobile will help with patrolling and posting properties this winter.  12-12-16-05


12-12-16-06Posting is the checking of camps and buildings in the watershed. We check windows and doors, look for damage or danger to the property, and report if necessary. Posting the property with a MWA card tells everyone that this place is being watched. Riding the snowmobile along the shore of the lake is a lot easier than snowshoeing in unplowed camp roads!

As the ice grows and thickens people will be temped to push their luck and get out on the ice to fish.  For those hardy (foolhardy?) souls, please, check the ice conditions frequently as you head out.  Here are some Guidelines from the Maine Warden Service:

General Ice Thickness Guidelines – For New, Clear Ice Only:

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ May allow Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5″ often allows for Snowmobile or ATV travel
8″ – 12″ of good ice with supports most Cars or small pickups
12″ – 15″ will likely hold a Medium sized truck.

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.


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