Badlands deer hunt presents birding opportunity

Badlands deer hunt presents birding opportunity

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Bismarck-Mandan Bird Club

The weather the past couple weekends has been incredible, along with the bird viewing!

Temperatures went from 50 degrees during deer scouting to wind chills of minus 15 with snow during the hunt, back up to temperatures in the upper 40s … wild swings and down. I guess it may be typical of this time of year. Whatever the weather, we still get outdoors and enjoy. Put the warm gear on and go.

The birding along with the deer hunts was also a lot of ups and downs as far as birds seen. During the warm, calm days, birds were more evident. Eastern bluebirds, white-breasted nuthatches, blue jays, black-billed magpies, American crows, red-tailed hawks and an American kestrel. During a warm scouting day, a magnificent bald eagle lifted off from a nearby Badlands butte ridge and flew over the Little Missouri River Valley and over Medora. What a sight! It never gets old seeing these beautiful birds. It also may have been a sign that this area I was scouting would be fruitful, as shortly after the eagle sighting, I found a woody draw loaded with deer for the next day’s hunt!

On a special day when the winds were surprisingly calm and the weather was warm, I found a parcel of the Little Missouri National Grasslands that held a group of four golden eagles! These eagle sightings never cease to amaze me! When I’m in these public grounds and see the amazing wildlife around, it’s an incredible feeling knowing that I’m part owner of the land, and I feel the need to protect and keep this land in good shape and keep it better than I found it.

A separate work trip brought me to the Southern Missouri Slope region of South Dakota along Lake Oahe. With the open water of Lake Oahe and iced-over back bays, the ducks were piled in along the icy edges. Ducks present included mallards, lesser scaup, redheads, buffleheads, canvasbacks and common mergansers, along with a handful of Canada geese.

One special day, I just pulled into a back bay to check for any new species, and almost immediately, a bald eagle took off from the lake shore and pursued a bufflehead in the air. I’ve never observed an eagle darting around almost effortlessly. It caught up to the bufflehead and made a midflight grab of the bufflehead with its talons! Wow! The eagle hovered a bit then flew up to a nearby tree limb and starting munching on its dinner! What a sight, I’ll never forget!   

While out and about traveling, working, hunting, or doing whatever your daily grind is, keep your eyes and ears on a swivel. You never know what you’re going to see out there!         

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