Super Senior: Mike Korkuc

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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SALISBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - On Lake Dunmore, there’s a pontoon boat like no other. At the wheel is Mike Korkuc and his longtime love, Rosie Spahn. The boat is aptly named “The Loonatic.”

Korkuc is passionate about the birds on an island, just a short distance from their home. “The loon is on the nest. I can see it from here,” Korkuc points out. “It’s got its head down, looking north.”

Korkuc has taken thousands of pictures of the loons since he started seeing them here in the mid-90s. They started nesting on the lake about a decade later.

The 79-year-old is part park ranger, making sure people stay a safe distance away from the nests. “Somebody thinks there’s something wrong with the loons, I come and check it out,” Korkuc said. “It’s only been a handful of times when people have been nasty about it.”

In a couple of weeks, the chicks are expected to hatch. Loons are no longer on the state endangered list and Kirkuc can take some credit for that good news. On shore, others would agree.

Fellow birders gathering this week to congratulate Kirkuc for an honor he’s about to receive -- Green Mountain Power’s Meeri Zetterstrom Award. It’s given out yearly for someone who’s made a contribution to Vermont’s environment.

He is always out in the Loonatic watching out for our loons out on the lake,” said Joan Gumble, who nominated Kirkuc for award

“I’m not a person who’s an award person. I never think about awards. I certainly don’t do this for an award, but I do appreciate it and I can kind of accept it on behalf of the folks work with me doing this with me,” Korkuc said. “On behalf of all the volunteers, I really appreciate this.”

The prize is a trophy and $2,500. “And they ask, ‘Why do you do that?’ I say, ‘Because...’ And they don’t understand that. Now, I can tell them, ‘I do it for the money!’”

A portion of the cash will go directly back to the cause. “I know we’ve made a difference on the lake,” Korkuc said.

As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. “I love him, I like him,” Spahn said.

Life on the lake -- protecting nature and getting so much in return. “This has been the best 20 years of my life,” Korkuc said. “There’s nowhere else we’d rather be.”

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