Monday, May 28, 2007

Making the Rounds

When I am at a National Wildlife Refuge, I drive the roads looking for wildlife. I try to get there as close to dawn as possible and scan for wildlife. I also like to make loops in the late afternoon around sunset. At any given refuge, I'll drive the auto loops over and over scanning for wildlife. By doing this, I learn where to expect to find certain animals. At Arapaho NWR, we saw a beaver several times as it swam in a pond near some tall grass. We knew the phalaropes, avocets, and yellowheaded blackbirds hung around one very shallow water area. There was even a place on the highway where we regularly spotted a golden eagle. While on one level it sounds repetitious - driving the same road over and over and over, sometimes it pays off. While the prairie dogs and ground squirrels were easy to find and photograph, we only saw the weasel on that one loup. Our last loop gave us a sighting of a badger. (I've only seen a badger twice in the wild - this was the second time.)

Sometimes you get to see some interesting behaviors. We see a lot of Canada geese. Usually they swim with their neck and head held high. However, on one of our loops we saw them swimming stealth style. Two geese (presumably male and female) were swimming in a pond with their goslings. The adults had their head and neck held closely to the water, it looked uncomfortable. But it also gave me the impression they were trying to "sneak" across the pond. From a human view, they were quite visible, but perhaps the lower profile might keep them less visible to one of their enemies.

All together we counted about 40 species of birds and mammals. Some we only saw once on different loops - such as what I think was a peregrin falcon, the willet, and the badger. But making the loops over and over, at different times of day increases what you will see.

American Avocet
Horned lark
Ruddy duck
some kind of woodpecker or sapsuckeer
Mourning dove
Pied billed grebe
Yellow headed blackbird - male and female
Brown headed cowbird
Redwing blackbird - male and female
Mallard - male and female
Northern shoveler
Canada geese & goslings
Lesser scaup
mountain bluebird - near nesting box
Western meadowlark
Gadwall - male and female
Golden eagle
Swainson's hawk
Peregrin Falcon (distant)
Eared grebe
Brewer's Blackbird
Western grebe
Wilson's phalarope
Cinamon teal - male and female
Blue winged teal - male and female
Marsh wren
White pelican
Black crowned night heron

White tailed Prairie dog
Wyoming ground squirrel (Richardson's)
Long tailed weasel
white tailed jackrabbit

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