January 2, 2009

loon, gulls, ducks, and more

At Fort Randall Dam in South Dakota a number of good water birds have been recently found. The best of these was a Yellow-billed Loon that has been seen in the area below the dam for a few days. This species is a new bird for the state and I wanted to see it a lot. I called up a couple birders and we decided to head out there to find it. Even if we missed the bird we still would find Long-tailed Duck, Thayer's Gull, Glaucous Gull, and more which would all be worth the trip to me. We headed out at 6am and made the 2hr 30min journey up there. The sun was up and out when we arrived and so were the birds and I was getting excited. We drove down to where they had been seeing it and after only a short minute of looking for it I saw the loon sitting out in the middle of the river. It was easy to spot as he was much bigger than all of the other birds on the river. The pressure of finding it was off and now we could observe it as well as the other birds there with a little more ease. After a while of watching my 294th life bird swim around for a while we started paying attention to some of the other birds around the area.
A couple Thayer's Gulls, my 295th life bird and the second of the day were flying around with the Herring Gulls out in front of us. A Long-tailed Duck was also in the river in the tail race below the dam along with hundreds of other waterfowl such as mergansers and goldeneye. Bald Eagles were also everywhere and were a pleasure to watch as they went back and forth up the river looking for food.
Once the area was completely birded we decided to head for home. We missed the Glaucous Gull that were supposed to be there. Another dam was on the way back to Sioux City so we ducked in there for ma moment. About a quarter mile down the river we found our Glaucous Gulls! There were four of them sitting in the river. All of the birds that we were hoping to find today were found and it made for a very successful trip.
After a great day of birding we headed home with a good number of year and life birds under our belts!

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I love birding as well. Two years ago we traveled over to Eastern Shore (Chesapeake Bay)to where we heard there were two pairs of nesting eagles. We lucked out and spotted one of them soaring, looking for food - A magnificent sight.
We have put out various suet holders, but they continue to disappear. We think the squirrels and carrying them off and putting them in their nests.