Monday, October 4, 2021

Trip Report - Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Clear blue skies and warm sunshine accented the reds and golds of fall during the October 2 LAS trip to Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  The surprising lack of the usual Wyoming wind was much appreciated by the small group of birders who gathered to enjoy the morning.  The stillness allowed everyone to hear sounds that might have been missed on a gustier occasion:  the subtle song practice of immature White-crowned Sparrows, the distant yipping of several coyotes, and the feathery wingbeats of a flock of Ravens flying just overhead.  Horned Larks, the most numerous bird of the morning, announced their identities with their sweet, light calls.  Our outing began and ended with the burbling of a chatty Marsh Wren, who was making good use of the rushes and shrubs despite the lack of water in much of the refuge.

While many of the wetlands were completely dry, Hutton Lake still had enough water to attract a small number of ducks.  We watched as the tranquil water showcased the swimming path of a Ruddy Duck, while nearby Eared Grebes dove and disappeared.  We waited for dabbling Shovelers to raise their heads for us to admire their distinctive bills and admired a lone Avocet in white winter plumage wading at the water's edge. 

Here's hoping that a snowy winter and wet spring will return more water to this important haven.  Many thanks to LAS member and certified Wyoming Naturalist Alexandria for leading the trip!

Bird species list:  Canada Goose, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Eared Grebe, Ferruginous Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, American Avocet, Killdeer, Marsh Wren, Horned Lark, White-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Western Meadowlark.

Mammals seen:  Pronghorn, White-tailed jackrabbit, Cottontail, White-tailed prairie dogs, Thirteen-lined ground-squirrel.