Friday, August 3, 2012

Field Notes 8.3.12

Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area is THE Place for Waterfowl !

Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area was closed from February through July 15 for waterfowl nesting. We decided to check out the area today and were pleased to see that there is plenty of water there and an abundance of waterfowl and shorebirds. We entered the area via the north entrance and parked at the first parking lot. The first lake, which is deeper than the others, had a number of ducks, grebes and coots swimming at the far western edge.
As we approached the next lake on the trail we were treated to a group of white pelicans flying overhead. These birds are extremely quiet and as they circled in the thermals we could hear only the whirring of their wings. The shores of the southwest lake were lined with at least 15 great blue herons, several black-crowned night herons and a spotted sandpiper. Floating on lake were numerous eared grebes tending to their squeaky babies, pied-billed and western grebes, American coots and several species of ducks in addition to rafts of white pelicans.  Two Forster’s terns flew overhead as did a Swainson’s hawk, a turkey vulture and a common raven.
The southeast lake was literally filled with dozens of white-faced ibises, American avocets, Wilson’s phalaropes, great blue herons and white pelicans. Along the shore we identified a juvenile Bonaparte’s gull, a long-billed dowitcher and greater and lesser yellowlegs.
As if all that weren’t enough, we stopped at Johnson Lake at the western edge of the state wildlife area and saw at least a dozen snowy egrets, white-faced ibises and American avocets. The highlight of our Johnson Lake sightings was a single black-necked stilt – a bird that we have been hoping to see for quite some time.

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