After such a cold, snowy spring, we’re finally starting to warm up. It was a nice sunny day of about 60 degrees, and even better, our ever-present wind wasn’t bad, so I headed out before dawn to look for migrants. My target for the day…shorebirds. If the day were to be measured on the basis of that target, I failed miserably! It’s APRIL 28th!! With such a wet, snowy spring, we have standing water all over the place! Shallow water, mudflats, flooded fields…there’s as much great habitat for migratory shorebirds as we ever have in the spring.
However, someone forgot to tell the shorebirds! I don’t think I’ve ever gone out at this time of year and seen so few shorebirds. Hopefully it’s just the cold weather that has them behind schedule, and we’ll get a nice pulse of shorebirds in the coming days. Today, however, I had to focus on other quarry. It WAS a beautiful morning for photography, and I did manage some nice finds south and west of Sioux Falls. It’s always fun to find migrating Loons (not all that common around here), and there were three at Wall Lake west of Sioux Falls this morning. I also found a few Sora in one wetland right as the sun rose, a few Wilson’s Snipe that were cooperative, and a few Franklin’s Gulls to photograph. Both the birds and the photo opportunities were FAR below what I normally expect this time of year, but it was still a nice morning. First-of-year birds for me for the day include Sora, Wilson’s Snipe, Barn Swallow, Green Heron, Western Grebe, American Avocet, Willet, Barn Swallow, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Spotted Sandpiper. A few photos from the day:
A Common Loon at Wall Lake, west of Sioux Falls. There were (at least) three on the lake, and thankfully one was fishing right off a point extending out into the lake, giving me great photo opportunities.
A Sora on the edge of a wetland, taken just as the sun was rising. Always good to get such a shy bird out in the open like this.
A breeding plumage Franklin’s Gull, with a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs in the background. One of my favorite birds in the Spring, particularly when they have the pink blush on their undersides such as this.
One thing I’ve learned to check in the spring are flooded ditches, as they seem to be favored haunts for Wilson’s Snipe.
I have a billion Yellow-headed Blackbird photos, but how can I resist? They’re such beautiful birds, and on a day like today when there just weren’t all that many birds around, the ever-present Yellow-headed Blackbirds make a great photo subject.