This past weekend, I had an opportunity to head up north with a friend to try our luck at finding a few walleyes in the great Lake Sakakawea. When I looked at the weather forecast for Friday evening through Sunday, my answer was a definite “yes,” and I was hopeful the fish would cooperate.
Friday afternoon rolled around and I was able to travel to the big lake. While traveling, my head was on a swivel looking for birds of any sorts. Nearby wetlands held many brown ducks. While driving at speeds of 70 mph, the acuteness of my vision is challenged, but I was able to discern abundant gadwalls, blue-winged teal, American widgeon, ruddy ducks, mallards and great blue herons.
Rock islands in wetlands held double-crested cormorants. Larger wetlands held foraging American white pelicans and flocks of Canada geese. Fencelines, utility lines and hay bales held red-tailed hawks and Swainson’s hawks. Cattails and crop fields held flocking mixed groups of blackbirds.
On Saturday morning, we arose to the sounds of Eurasian-collared doves and mourning doves. The mourning doves appear to be bunching up and staging together as we get closer to their migration season. The Eurasian-collared doves have become abundant in this area as compared to 10 years ago.
The morning hours had a moderate breeze that waned a bit throughout the day as the afternoon went on. The big lake held low numbers of birds in the areas we fished. Birds observed included Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, Franklin’s gulls, ring-billed gulls and common terns. Surprisingly, I didn’t see a single American white pelican.
Maybe the pelicans know where to find walleyes for dinner more than we do, as fishing was relatively slow but we were able to squeak out a few for the next morning’s breakfast.
During the next few weeks, shorebirds will be migrating south, if they haven’t left already. Mourning doves will be heading out of here as well just after the season opens for hunting. The waterfowl will begin showing their newly developed, brightly colored feathers and the blackbirds will begin their flights to Southern climes while in large stream-like flocks. Now is the time to get outdoors and witness these birds before they begin their journeys.