Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Medicine Lake birds

Yesterday while visiting the Whooping Crane at Medicine Lake NWR we found a few other birds on a short drive around part of the refuge.
As we pulled on to a crossing of a narrow arm of the lake the assorted waterfowl species gathered near the crossing began to flush away from us. This was expected. But what was not expected was most of the birds foraging and loafing further down the channel began to flush as well. When I put my binoculars up to look at these birds it became apparent that it wasn't our vehicle that was causing panic in the flock. A Peregrine Falcon powered into view and the beautiful deadly force coming straight at me in the midst of the scattering waterfowl was palpable and menacing, like staring down the barrel of a fine shotgun.
The falcon continued towards us in a fast powered flight and flared up in a quick pass at some the Northern Shovelers that had flushed in front of him. He missed, then rang up into the sky, and was gone.

We continued down the road and had a few American White Pelicans soaring around us. Medicine Lake NWR is home to one of the four pelican colonies in MT and I believe that it is the largest in MT.

Shorebirds were starting to show up and these Long-billed Dowitchers were foraging along the road.

Marbled Godwits were scattered across the refuge.
At one point we were driving along when an American Bittern popped out of the bullrushes. He walked along the edge of the water until he was flushed by another bittern. The flusher poked his head out of the rushes and then faded into the vegetation close to us. I got out of the car and spotted him doing the bittern thing and hiding in the rushes.

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