September 10, 2009

Weekend by the Lake

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A couple of weeks ago my mom, dad, sister, and I went up to Iowa's great lakes (Spirit Lake/Okoboji Lake area) to go fishing, enjoy the scenery, look for birds, and to top it all off go to a drive in movie.

While I was up there I was hoping to find a Black-headed Gull that had been coming to a certain location on Spirit Lake right on the IA-MN border during the fall for a number of years. Even though it was seen the week before I got there it managed to remain hidden despite constant searching.
Despite the fact I missed the gull I did see some other birds while I was there including a very cooperative juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper (above) that posed nicely for the camera. Many of the birds we saw, including the sandpiper, were seen from or near a fishing dock at Black-headed Gull location. Ring-billed Gulls as well as a few Franklin's Gulls were out and about on the lake all weekend long and were resting near the fishing dock. With a few chips and a little patience I managed to bring some in for photos.

American White Pelicans were in good supply as well. I enjoyed watching them soar overhead. One group had about 52 birds in it.

When I got tired of fishing I took a kite (no, not the bird), tied the string to my fishing line that was still on the fishing pole, and let the kite soar way up high. I had a lot more string than usual so it went much further than usual. I was flying it over a lake so when it fell into the water I just reeled it in. This was good practice for when a Muskie hits my line and I have to try to reel it in(yea, right). The kite appeared to draw in a few curious pelicans which would come and soar near it. One thing I can say that many people can't was that I was flying a kite in Iowa and was standing in Minnesota while doing it, plus the kite was attached to a fishing pole!

Night fishing really is the coolest fishing there is, at least in my opinion. My dad and I were out on the dock at Spirit Lake until 2am one night and heard so many interesting things including a lot of mammals. A group of Coyotes began howling not far from where we were. We howled back (hopefully no one heard us) and they responded. Some Northern Raccoons also began making some noise from some woodlands nearby. I even heard some birds while I was out there. Lots of migrating warblers, although not in view, made very faint calls as they flew overhead making their presence known. We watched the moon rise and fall and saw seven "falling stars" as well. We finally drove back to the campground and saw and almost hit a Northern Raccoon and a Striped Skunk on the way. Talk about a lot of wildlife! We caught a few bullheads that night but that was all. About 10 miles from the fishing dock is West Lake Okoboji. At Pike's Point State Park (which is right on the lake) my dad and I watched the beautiful sunset and got some neat photos with the one below being the best.
Sunrise on Spirit Lake was just as neat as the sunset on West Lake Okoboji, if not more so. There was steam coming off of the lake in the crisp 38 degree farenheit morning air which was amazing.
Gulls were already out and about on the lake. The steam and interesting lighting helped to make some cool photos.

On the way home a stop at Sunken Grove WMA revealed a Northern Waterthrush and a young Pied-billed Grebe (below).

And that concludes my weekend by the lake. Tomorrow I will post more about my New Mexico trip.