Bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshiny day – Freezeout Lake

Is the song stuck in your head now?  Good.  It was stuck in my head all day yesterday as I could see clearly – so much more clearly – than my previous visit to Freezeout Lake in freezing fog.  The air was crystal clear, the sun was shining, and only friendly clouds floated in the sky above.
Freezout Lake on a gloriously sunny and warm April 22, 2012

I started my birding day at the boat launch, from where I could observe 20 or more species of birds, including several personal FOY’s (first-of-year birds) including American avocet, black-necked stilt, American white pelican, Franklin’s Gull, and marbled godwit.  Canada geese loudly protested the presence of a coyote patrolling the opposite shore.

Some of the American white pelicans were bunched up for group fish herding / hunting.  This is an interesting behavior to observe.

American white pelicans gathered 'round for a group fish herding / hunting expedition.

Later in the afternoon I parked along a stretch of road where I had seen a black-crowned night heron (another FOY) fly over a couple times, hoping for another look and maybe even a photo.  I was stymied in that goal.  However, while there, I watched double-crested cormorants, one after another, collect nesting material and fly back to their nest colony with it.

A double-crested cormorant, retrieving nest-making material -- one of many such so occupied on a late April day at Freezeout Lake.

Then, a big surprise!  An American avocet landed about 25-30 yards away and caught a minnow.  Fun stuff!

An American avocet enjoys a minnow for a late lunch and a warm and sunny late April afternoon at Freezeout Lake - Montana

On the way home from Freezeout Lake, I took a little detour to Brown’s Lake where I added a couple birds to the day list and then through Pattee Canyon, where I added a couple more.  Back at home it was still too nice to be indoors, so I downloaded photos on the back deck while enjoying a beer watching pine siskins, red-breasted nuthatches, and house finches on my feeder while an American robin serenaded and a downy woodpecker played percussion.  Ah… spring!!!!

Here’s the bird list for the day with location where I first saw that species yesterday.  Those marked with an * were a FOY for me.

American Robin Hwy 200
Tree Swallow Hwy 209
European Starling Hwy 209
Common Raven Hwy 209
Belted Kingfisher Hwy 209
American Kestrel Hwy 209
Osprey Hwy 209
Mountain Bluebird Hwy 209
Sandhill Crane Hwy 209
Northern Flicker Hwy 209
Red-tailed Hawk Hwy 209
Canada Goose Hwy 209
Horned Lark Hwy 287
Red-winged Blackbird Hwy 287
Western Meadowlark Hwy 287
Northern Harrier Hwy 287
Rock Pigeon Hwy 287
Black-billed Magpie Hwy 287
Ring-necked Pheasant Hwy 408
Snow Goose Hwy 408
* American White Pelican Freezeout Lake WMA
Ring-billed Gull Freezeout Lake WMA
Western Meadowlark Freezeout Lake WMA
Black-billed Magpie Freezeout Lake WMA
Northern Shoveler Freezeout Lake WMA
Mallard Freezeout Lake WMA
* American Avocet Freezeout Lake WMA
Green-winged Teal Freezeout Lake WMA
Northern Pintail Freezeout Lake WMA
American Coot Freezeout Lake WMA
Canada Goose Freezeout Lake WMA
Ring-necked Duck Freezeout Lake WMA
* Marbled Godwit Freezeout Lake WMA
Gadwall Freezeout Lake WMA
Great Blue Heron Freezeout Lake WMA
Snow Goose Freezeout Lake WMA
* Franklin’s Gull Freezeout Lake WMA
* Black-necked Stilt Freezeout Lake WMA
Greater Scaup Freezeout Lake WMA
Northern Harrier Freezeout Lake WMA
Double-crested Cormorant Freezeout Lake WMA
Cinnamon Teal Freezeout Lake WMA
American Wigeon Freezeout Lake WMA
Killdeer Freezeout Lake WMA
* Ruddy Duck Freezeout Lake WMA
Yellow-headed Blackbird Freezeout Lake WMA
* Red-breasted Merganser Freezeout Lake WMA
* Black-crowned Night-Heron Freezeout Lake WMA
American Robin Freezeout Lake WMA
Tree Swallow Freezeout Lake WMA
Eurasian Collared-Dove Sun River
Bufflehead Brown’s Lake
Canvasback Brown’s Lake
Black-capped Chickadee Pattee Canyon
Wild Turkey Pattee Canyon
Red-breasted Nuthatch Pattee Canyon
Pine Siskin Front yard
* California Gull Freezeout Lake
House Finch Back yard
House Sparrow Augusta

More photos from the day can be viewed here: http://www.bigskycountry.net/freezeoutlake_april2012

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