Sunday, June 17, 2007

Medicine Lake waterfowl and waders

While browsing the Internet several months ago I came across a site of a photographer who had gotten some great pics of eared grebe in breeding plumage. I was fascinated by the shots and fortunately for me the website listed that the photographs had been taken at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge in early June. So I did some research and found that Medicine Lake was located in Montana near the North Dakota border. Since we were planning on going back through Montana and North Dakota on our way back from Yellowstone we made a plan to make a one day side trip to Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Medicine Lake is a pretty flat refuge with only a few slight rolling hills and even fewer trees. The two areas that have any trees to speak of are the area around the headquarters and the picnic area where the only bathroom, outhouse style, is located. The Picnic area is where we spotted the great horned owls and their nest. The majority of the park is Medicine Lake and the adjacent smaller lakes which are managed through a series of damns and dikes. We found a lot of waterfowl and waders on the small lakes and potholes.

We saw a few american avocet wading through the shallows, their heads were rusty red with the breeding plumage.
Mixed in with the avocets we saw a couple of marbled godwit.
There were quite a few Killdeer both on the shore of the lake and scouring the dirt roads.
The Wilson's Phalarope were also in breeding plumage. They swam, mostly in pairs, in tight circles close to the shore of the smaller lakes.
The eared grebe where in breading plumage and were magnificent. There were quite a few of them around.
About 10 of them swam under a small bridge that we were parked on giving us perfect views and marvelous pictures.

There was also a pair of western grebe near the highway on Medicine Lake.
We also got some good shots of several types of ducks.
They included ruddy ducks,
northern pintails
northern shoveler
and blue-winged teal.
After a day full of clouds on Friday as we drove across Montana, the weather on Saturday was perfect. The great weather, the owls, the eared grebes, and all the great shots that we got helped to make up for some of the things that we missed, and the bad weather that we had in Yellowstone. We also saw a few prairie birds in the fields surrounding the lake but I will include them in my next Medicine Lake post.

1 comment:

Compare Cord Blood Banks said...

Hi, great bunch of photos.
That is a beauty of a Wilson's
Phalarope on the water. Gotta tell
you tho, I believe that large
flock of flying phalaropes is a
bunch of Red-necked Phalaropes.
I've been enjoying your blog for
some time now. Keep up the good
Hap in New Hope