Monday, 25 January 2010

Birding in Pierre, SD

Late this last November I went on a birding trip to central South Dakota with two local birders for three days. We were going to Pierre for the state's ornithologist union meeting and were hoping to see Mew Gull, Red-throated Loon, and maybe even Gyrfalcons at Lake Oahe and surrounding areas. We birded around Lake Oahe and the Missouri River a lot that weekend but didn't see many of our target birds. Despite that I did get to see my lifer Lesser Black-backed Gull along with lots of Red-necked Grebes, Western Grebes, a Glaucous Gull, and a couple Thayer's Gulls. A California Gull (pictured below, right bird) was hanging around the area too. Some of the best birding was at Fort Pierre National Grasslands where we saw an astounding 10 Golden Eagles (!), about a dozen Ferruginous Hawks, several Prairie Falcons and a Rough-legged Hawk. One of the Golden Eagles is pictured at the top of the post and a Ferruginous Hawk is pictured below this paragraph.
Birds were not the only thing that caught my attention at the grasslands. We saw a group of Pronghorn (one of the fastest land mammals around, pictures below) and Black-tailed Prairie Dogs not to mention the White-tailed and Mule Deer.
On the way home we saw lots of Bonaparte's Gulls at Big Bend Dam which made for a nice way to end the trip. No Little Gulls though :-(

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