OK, now back to Sullys Hill National Game Preserve. Just beyond the prairie dog town, was the winter feeding area where they provide hay as supplemental feeding for the resident bison, deer and elk. I was lucky to see a large bull elk nearby in this field. They are beautiful animals and he was growing a nice set of antlers, still covered with velvet. He wasn't real thrilled about me standing near the fence to take some pictures, but I tried to be still and he eventually seemed to ignore me.
Here's a little video of him walking through the pasture and enjoying some nice tender grass.
Also in this pasture were two turkeys--a tom and a hen. This is the closest I've been to a tom turkey this spring. This guy was pretty quiet and not gobbling or displaying for the hen at all. He was a nice big bird, but it looks as though he may have some sort of an injury to his wing (or maybe his feathers are just molting).
I made a stop at the visitor's center to see if they had a bird checklist for the park (yes!) and to purchase a souvenir sweatshirt. They had quite a few birdfeeders set up outside the center and I was surprised to see that they had several clay-colored sparrows and pine siskins at their feeders. They also had a couple of nectar feeders with hummingbirds visiting.
After leaving the center, I found this very large buffalo wallow. Because of the recent rains, it was almost full of water, but you could see plenty of animal footprints around the muddy edges. In this picture, you can also see the wildlife trail (white arrow pointing to it) that comes down from the woods directly to this wallow/watering hole.
I continued following the road which wound around through the beautiful oak/ash forest. There were so many birds singing in these trees and I was able to stop periodically and roll down the window to watch and listen. In one spot, I heard a thrush singing (WOW!) I knew it wasn't a wood thrush and the birding checklist I picked up earlier showed the park had 3: Swainson's, Gray-Cheeked, and Hermit. I took this little movie and if you listen really closely (right around the 3 second mark) you should be able to hear the thrush singing.
Later in the evening at our wine tasting reception, I replayed this movie for Sharon (the Birdchick) and she positively identified the thrush as Swainson's. Thanks Sharon!
My last stop before leaving the park was the Devil's Lake Vista. Again, this must be a fantastic view on a sunny day, but still quite a nice sight even on a rainy day. Even from up here, you could see all the whitecaps on the lake from the strong wind that was blowing.
It was getting late in the afternoon, so I decided after leaving the park to run up to the city of Devil's Lake and find a little lunch. The road to town runs right along this lake. I almost changed my mind about proceeding down the highway when I saw this sign:
Fortunately, there was no water on the road and I had an uneventful drive into and back out of the city of Devil's Lake.
I got back to Carrington just in time to attend a seminar called, "The Ten Most Important Things You Can Do for Birds and Bird Conservation." It was a good talk presented by Paul Baicich. I learned that some of the things I'm already doing, but also a few new things that will be easy for me to start doing.
Later that evening we walked over to the wine tasting and appetizers event at the Historic Putnam House near downtown Carrington. It's a beautifully restored home that was built in the early 1900's. We were also treated to music by Bill Thompson, Julie Zickefoose and some of their equally talented friends (who just happened to also be attending this festival). As we say here in Minnesota, "A good time was had by all!"
I hope to post the final installment of my North Dakota trip tomorrow night. I hope you've enjoyed these stories and pictures enough that you will think about maybe trying to attend this festival next year (or another year in the future). It was a well organized festival and the groups were small. Everyone was very friendly and some of us had the added benefit of already knowing people when we got there (through blogging). As you know, it's so nice to go someplace where you already know people.....