Foam Lake Birding o. 144


No. 144

            This past week we had the pleasure of taking some friends of ours from Foam Lake on a birding tour at the Llano Grande State Park.  We saw a good variety of water birds including a Roseate Spoonbill that was close to the viewing station.  To somebody who has done very little birding the spoonbill with its rose/pink goose sized body is quite spectacular.  The usually reliable sighting of the Paraque was not to be as it was not in its usual roosting place.  As compensation we did see a large twelve foot alligator floating lazily on the far side of a small pond. 

            One of the more noticeable birds seen during our excursion was the Black Necked Stilt.  The stilt is a striking black and white crow sized wading bird that is unmistakable in the field.  The long slender black neck, long needle like black bill and almost grotesquely long coral pink legs add to its distinctive look.  In flight the legs protrude a long way back giving the bird a distinctive flight profile.  The name, stilt, is very appropriate as the bird does look as if it is walking on stilts.  Although, normally very vocal these were silent. 

            The stilts are common throughout the southern part of the USA but can also be seen occasionally in some extreme southern areas of the four western provinces in Canada.  They are, however, common only in the marsh lands along the Trans-Canada Highway near Brooks, Alberta.  One summer, a few years back when my wife and I were returning home from Calgary we saw a very gangly juvenile running in a mud flat along the highway on the outskirts of Brooks itself.  A year or two later we saw a flock of several dozen adults feeding in a stubble field along the very same highway just east of Brooks during a late spring snow storm.  For those interested, a stop at the Brooks marshlands might prove productive for seeing a Black Necked Stilt. 

            This week’s photos of a pair of Black Necked Stilts were taken at the Llano Grande State Park when we were there with our friends from Foam Lake.  I got a very good shot of the Roseate Spoonbill also, but that photo will be seen only on my web page in a future article.