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  • Writer's pictureKaren Hogan

North Dakota NWR Trip June 2013

Updated: Mar 4, 2019

During the spring of 2013 Teresa and I started planning our first National Wildlife Refuge Trip. We had completed weekend trips to a couple National Wildlife Refuges in North Carolina during January 2013 and three Tennessee National Wildlife Refuges during March 2013. We were ready to plan a week long trip to visit 6-9 National Wildlife Refuges. Teresa and I were intrigued by the idea of over 63 National Wildlife Refuges in one state, North Dakota and the big question; why does North Dakota have so many wildlife refuges? We decided our first major trip should be to the state with the most Refuges.

Karen and Teresa at Lostwood NWR June 5, 2013


Whenever I mentioned to my friends Karen and I were headed to North Dakota the first week of June, they asked, "What's in North Dakota?" I said Birds! I had driven through North Dakota in mid July of 2012 to visit a friend in Canada.  I could see many ducks and grebes swimming in the small bodies of water along the roadways.  I did not have time to stop for a good look to identify the species swimming with their young in the ponds but I knew someday I would be back for a closer look at these birds.

By the spring of 2013 Karen and I were more confident of our goal to visit every National Wildlife Refuge. We had completed weekend trips to National Wildlife Refuges in Eastern North Carolina in January 2013 and National Wildlife Refuge in Western Kentucky/Tennessee in March 2013. We were ready to plan a major National Wildlife Trip. Karen suggested the Upper Peninsula of Michigan but I wanted to go back to North Dakota. Karen and I both were intrigued by the idea of over 63 National Wildlife Refuges in one state, North Dakota and the big question; why does North Dakota have so many wildlife refuges? We decided our first major trip should be to the state with the most Refuges. We looked up each refuge on the National Wildlife Refuge website to see what Refuges had Visitor Centers and if the Refuge was open to the public. The drive from Lexington to Fargo, ND was 1100 miles and even farther for Karen since she would be driving from Chapel Hill, an additional 480 miles. We decided against an 1100 mile drive in one day. Instead we would start our trip on Friday night, May 31st. Karen would fly from Chapel Hill to Indianapolis and I would pick her up from the Indianapolis airport. We would drive a few more hours and then stop for the night at Bloomington, IL.


Dakota map National Wildlife Refuges

Our detailed trip plan also included dates for each National Wildlife Refuge visit including Sunday at Arrowwood, Monday at Chase Lake, Tuesday at Long Lake with a drive to Minot along highway 83 with a stop at Audubon, Wednesday we would visit Lostwood, Des Lacs and Upper Souris, Thursday we would visit Lake Zahl and Friday we would be driving east on highway 2 to leave ND with a stop at Lake Alice and Kellys Slough. Our hotel reservations were 3 nights stay in each hotel in Jamestown and Minot, we prefer 2-3 nights in the same hotel within easy driving distance of our destinations. This minimizes hauling our stuff from the car into the hotel. 


Friday May 31, 2013

The day arrived to begin our trip, May 31st, I drove from Lexington to Indianapolis and Karen arrived in Indianapolis by plane from Chapel Hill. Karen arrived at 7:30pm, the exact time I arrived at the airport to meet her, we then drove to Bloomington, IL where we spent the night in a Comfort Inn.


Saturday June 1, 2013 Upper Mississippi River and Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuges

We got up early the next morning and headed to Jamestown, ND. We drove up interstate 39 and then 90. Our original plans, Saturday was a driving day with over 1100 miles to reach our destination, Jamestown, ND so we would have no time for birding.  Since we started the trip on Friday night we were already 369 miles ahead of our original plan. We were excited it would be a more relaxing drive with time to stop and look around. While driving on interstate 90/94 we spotted American White Pelicans in a river under the highway bridge. We got off the next exit and looked for a way to get close to the river but we could not find a road even with the GPS on our cell phones. We drove around twice trying to get close enough for a good photo and finally gave up, if we had only realized we would be so close to Pelicans in North Dakota. Of course this was also our first good look of Sandhill Cranes, once again we made many stops trying to find a pull off spot to get some good photos. We had planned to drive up highway 94 toward Minneapolis, instead we stayed on 90 crossing the Mississippi River and visiting the Onalaska and Winona areas. It only seemed fitting that we make a quick stop at Trempealeau NWR, Wisconsin, where we got some better looks at Sandhill Cranes. We continued our drive along the Mississippi River and the Upper Mississippi River NWR, Minnesota,  stopping often to get a photo of the scenery and birds. We continued on highway 14 and 61 until we finally got back on 94 and headed to Minneapolis. We arrived in North Dakota sometime after 10 pm. We were about 45 miles outside of Jamestown when Teresa decided we should look for the Northern Lights. We got off the highway and sat for about 30 minutes on a country road. Teresa stood outside the car looking for the Northern Lights, I was beyond tired and ready for some sleep at the hotel. It was 1 am by the time we got to the Jamestown exit and what a relief to see the lights of the Comfort Inn right at the bottom of the ramp. Teresa said to get to the left lane and when I did I hit something that I couldn't see. The car jerked and rocked, Teresa said I was on the median. I was in disbelief as I drove off the median and felt the horrible sensation of driving on the rim of the tire. So many thoughts went through my mind, there is a policeman behind me with his blue lights on, he thinks I am drunk, I have ruined Teresa's tires, suspension, axle, that will cost us money and time, we have not even begun our birding in North Dakota and now it will be canceled or delayed because of something that I did. We were less than 100 yards from the hotel. The policeman cited me with a warning; drive with more care. We drove to the hotel on the rim of the tire, unloaded the car and then waited for the AAA tow truck driver Teresa had summoned.  The AAA tow truck driver arrived promptly with a great attitude and encouraging words. Teresa and I decided we would drive on the spare for Sunday and replace her flat tire on Monday at the tire store right across the street from our hotel.  During our visit to North Dakota we carried food for both lunch and dinner, in our car. The North Dakota National Wildlife Refuges are miles from restaurants and gasoline stations, there is not enough time to leave the refuge to look for gasoline or food. Our goal is to spend every moment of daylight at the refuge.


Sunday June 2, 2013 Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge

Our plan was to get up at 5 am to be at the refuge at sunrise, then head to our hotel as the sun goes down. Long days but well worth it.  We arrived Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge around 10 am, a very late start but we had been up until 3 am with the flat tire. As we drove down the gravel road to the wildlife refuge we could hear Yellow-headed Blackbirds and many other unknown bird calls. It was a bright sunny day with birds flying in every direction all around our car.  It was a truly magical moment and a fitting way to begin our North Dakota Adventure.

Yellow-headed Blackbird, Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, June 2, 2013
Clay-colored Sparrow Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Bobolink Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Olive-sided Flycatcher Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Yellow-headed Blackbird, Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
American Bittern Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
California Gull Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Marsh Wren Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Hawk Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Savannah Sparrow Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013

Arrowwood NWR was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds. The 11,500 acres of grassland at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge is very important for wildlife that depends on grasslands for nesting, cover and food. . Canada Geese and thirteen species of ducks nest on the refuge each spring and summer. There is a 5.5 mile auto tour on the refuge for observing waterfowl but it was closed due to flooding so we spent most of our time driving around 11th street and the road to the Visitor Center. We saw many ducks paired up for breeding including Blue-winged Teal and Ruddy Ducks. We watched hundreds of cliff swallows building nest on the bridge and gathering mud along the bank of the small pond next to the bridge. We saw gulls, terns and American White Pelicans in the Lake in front of the Visitor Center. 


Teresa Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge June 2, 2013
Cliff Swallows under a bridge at Arrowwood NWR, June 2, 2013
Cliff Swallow Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge 6/2/13
Male Ruddy Duck in breeding colors, Arrowwood NWR, June 2, 2013

 We realized we failed to stop at a gas station in Jamestown and we only had a 1/4 tank of gasoline. We asked some folks fishing at the Refuge and they said we should drive to Kensel for gasoline. The fishermen said there would be a pump in the middle of a field, no building, but a pump that took credit cards. To our relief we found the gas pump and filled the car with gasoline and headed back to Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge. 

Gasoline in Kensel, a few miles from Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, June 2, 2013

We visited the Warbler Woodland Watchable Wildlife Area where over 20 species of warblers and other songbirds have been observed. We saw several warblers but still new to birding didn't know the songs or the identifying field marks of warblers. We could definitely identify the many Yellow Warblers we observed.

Yellow Warbler, Arrowwood NWR, June 2, 2013

We saw a tornado like column of midges flying on the 11th Street. It was easy to spend the whole day at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, there were many birds to identify and we enjoyed being present in the expansive grassland habitat of this North Dakota National Wildlife Refuge. The Visitor Center was closed on Sunday so we decided to come back early Tuesday morning before heading to Minot. We definitely wanted to get our Blue Goose Stamp and talk to the folks at the Visitor Center. 

Column of Midges and flying Cliff Swallows at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, June 2, 2013
Visitor Center at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, June 2, 2013

Monday June 3, 2013 Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Monday morning we headed straight to the tire store in Jamestown and within an hour our tire problem was solved.  Monday's weather forecast was accurate, it was light to moderate rain most of the day with grey overcast skies for our drive and visit to Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We enjoyed talking to the staff at the Visitor Center and they told us where they had recently seen Upland Sandpipers and Wilson's Snipes. They also gave us detailed directions to Chase Lake to see breeding American White Pelicans. We drove the small country roads they had recommended and were immediately rewarded with great views of Wilson's Snipes and Upland Sandpipers sitting on top of the fence post along the road. 

Wilsons Snipe, Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, June 3, 2013

We also met this Marbled Godwit on the road and he seemed unconcerned as he continued to approach us when we got out of the car.

Marbled Godwit, Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, June 3, 2013

We left the Snipes, Godwits and Sandpipers to drive to Chase Lake.  The road to the lake was a small farm road with our car the only occupant. 

The road to Chase Lake NWR, June 3, 2013

As we approached the Lake area, the last section of the road to the platform was covered with water; we were out in the middle of nowhere and decided not to drive across the flooded dirt road. We could see the lake from gate crossing and thousands of Pelicans flying around and landing on the island in the middle of the Lake. Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to the largest breeding colony of American White Pelicans. Karen recorded some video of the Pelicans flying but the photos and videos we took were of poor quality because of the overcast sky and the distance we were from the birds. Chase Lake NWR was established in 1908 and consist of 4,385 acres of which 4,155 acres has been designated as a Wilderness Area. Chase Lake islands are home to more than 40,000 breeding birds, including pelicans, cormorants, gulls, herons and egrets. When we left Chase and headed to Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge.


Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

It was late afternoon when we visited with the folks at the Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge visitor center. They told us we would be able to see the Sharp-tailed Grouse from the Refuge blind just before sunset. We drove down the refuge road in pouring rain. The ground was saturated and it would be difficult to walk through the tall wet grass. Just as we drove up to the path to the blind 20 Grouse lifted into the air; we were thrilled. Teresa took this photo from our car window, no hiking in the wet grass.

Sharp-tailed Grouse in Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, June 3, 2013
American White Pelican, Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge June 3, 2013
Western Grebe Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge June 3, 3013

The wind was blowing hard and cold across the water at Long Lake and the misting rain never stopped. We enjoyed the American White Pelicans in the lake, for some of our best looks to date. When we left Long Lake it was still daylight, we had to time for one more Refuge, we headed to Slade National Wildlife Refuge.


Slade National Wildlife Refuge

There was a gate across the entrance to the Slade National Wildlife Refuge that said closed or restricted, we did not enter but took a photo of the Refuge sign and the immediate area, it was getting dark as we drove back to Jamestown in the pouring rain. When we got back to the hotel Karen tried to upload her photos she took during the day but her SD card became corrupted, we were both disappointed she lost the photos of the Slade National Wildlife Refuge sign and surrounding areas. She was also unable to recover the videos of the American White Pelican flying at the Chase Island and the videos of the Wilson's Snipe at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge. 


Tuesday June 4, 2013

We had spent three nights in Jamestown. It was time to head to our next destination, Minot, North Dakota but first we would make several stops at Arrowwood, Florence and Audubon NWRs.


Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge

We left Jamestown early on Tuesday, June 4th, we stopped at the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center to receive our Blue Goose Stamp. We enjoyed talking to Stacey at the Visitor Center, she shared her experience counting the Pelican chicks on Pelican Island at Chase National Wildlife Refuge. Stacey also told us about an event at the Refuge in October that we hope someday to attend. With great reluctance we left the blue skies over scenic Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge and headed north on highway 52, then west on highway 52/200 towards Florence and Audubon National Wildlife Refuges. The farther west we drove the skies became overcast and grey. We were making good time when we saw a road closed sign with road crews working on the water covered highway. We looked to our GPS phones for new directions to our next destination.

Road Closed Sign on State Road 200, June 3, 2013.

The woman in the car in front of us headed south on State Road 3, we had no choice but to follow her.  North Dakota folks were few but extremely friendly, we were not surprised when she stopped, walked back to our car, to let us know her husband had determined State Road 3 was clear and passable down to State Road 36.

Detour on State Road 3, June 3, 2013

State Road 3 was a gravel road and an unlikely choice for our detour but with this helpful information we felt confident it would get us to Florence National Wildlife Refuge. We thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful detour and were grateful for the road closure on State Road 200.

Detour on State Road 3, June 3, 2013

We finally met State Road 36, turned west, then headed north on State Road 14 to Florence.


Florence National Wildlife Refuge

We stopped for a short time in the GPS designated area for Florence National Wildlife Refuge, we did not see a sign for the Refuge and were hesitant to continue on the farm road right off the highway, not sure if we were on a privately owned road or not.

Teresa, Farm road to Florence National Wildlife Refuge, June 4, 2013
Red-necked Phalarope and some unidentified shorebirds in roadside pond near Florence National Wildlife Refuge, June 4, 2013
Gulls on a island in the middle of a pond along the roadway close to Florence National Wildlife Refuge, June 4, 2013

We took photos of the sparrows in the tall grass along the farm road and watched some sandpipers in the potholes along the road. We also saw along the main highway a island in a large pond, with hundreds of gulls.  We then headed north on State Road 14. We were thrilled to see a Ring-necked Pheasant cross the road, a life bird for both of us. 

Ring-necked Pheasant ran across the highway in the area around Florence National Wildlife RefugeJune 4, 2013

We continued north on SR 14 and got back on State Road 200 headed west towards Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.  Along the road were so many potholes filled with birds we had to force ourselves to continue west towards Audubon National Wildlife

Red-necked Phalaropes along the road headed to Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, June 4, 2013

During our trip to North Dakota we spent a lot of time birding on the side of the road because of low traffic and the opportunity to see new species. Something we would later decide not to do, no road birding for safety reasons and we prefer report birds on ebird with designated hotspots.


Audubon National Wildlife Refuge

We were greeted by the friendly staff at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge but were confused by their strange expressions when we told them we had just seen our first Ring-necked Pheasant and hoped to see more. They were very kind, describing what we would see on the wildlife drive and suggested we should visit Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge. It was late in the day and very overcast as we drove the 8-mile auto tour but the beauty of the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge was absolutely magnificent even with the overcast skies. We were thrilled to be on the Refuge that was created to save the Canada Goose.

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, June 4, 2013

Visitor Center at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge June 4, 2013

We saw so many pheasants on the refuge and now understood the surprised expressions of the staff from our request to see more Pheasants. Ring-necked Pheasants, a common bird at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge and in North Dakota.

Ring-necked Pheasant at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, June 4, 2014

We were disappointed we had not allowed enough time at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, it was late afternoon when we arrived and with overcast skies we only got to spend about 4 hours birding at this refuge.


We headed to Minot and saw many more flooded roads along the way. 

The road to Minot June 4, 2013

Wednesday June 5, 2013 Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge

We woke early to a beautiful blue sky in Minot on Wednesday June 5. We established two "to do checklist" for more prepared traveling between the populated areas and wildlife areas of North Dakota. Our first checklist to be applied when arriving at the hotel each night, we would setup the charging our camera batteries as soon as we got to the room, check the list of birds we had documented, list on ebird, upload photos and check IDs of birds we were unsure while birding that day. Our second checklist was for heading out the next morning, we would stop at a gasoline station for a fill up and wash the car windows, every window in the car was coated with several millimeters of dust each day. Birding from the car is a great way to reduce wildlife disturbance, clean windows with good visibility is always a must.  Driving on Highway 52 toward Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge we had several delays due to road construction.  We met some more great folks at the Visitor Center, they told us where we might see the Piping Plovers breeding on the Refuge. We drove the 7 mile auto tour through the center of the refuge. We stopped at the 100-foot lookout tower for great views of the rolling hills of prairie grassland. With interest we viewed the different bodies of water on the refuge including the salt pond. 

Blue-winged Teal Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013
Lookout Tower at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013
Karen and Teresa Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013
View from Fire Tower at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, January 5, 2013

Disappointed that our birding skills were lacking, we were unable to identify the Sprague's Pipits or Baird's sparrows at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, a perfect habitat for these species of birds.  Exhilarated by the large open areas of land and the amazing scenery it was difficult to leave this absolutely beautiful Refuge. We were thrilled by the diversity of wildlife habitat we had visited in North Dakota. We left Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge and drove the 16 miles east to Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge. 


Des Lac National Wildlife Refuge

Des Lac National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013

We drove the Auto tour along the Upper Des Lacs Lake to the boat dock. The sky was bright blue with the afternoon sun providing amazing lighting for some great photos.  Karen was on the passenger side of the car and took photos of a Blue-winged Teal and Northern Pintail. 

Blue-winged Teal, Des Lac National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013
Yellow Warbler Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013
Redhead Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013
Northern Pintail, Des Lac National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013
Western Kingbird Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013

We also drove down the other section of the auto tour and saw sparrows and bobolinks sitting on the fence wires and post on the sides of the road. We stopped at a group of bushes full of birds feeding on some insects.  

Clay-colored Sparrow feeding on an insect, Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013.
Tennessee Warbler Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge June 5, 2013

Driving back to Minot we saw a sign for Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge. We decided a quick stop would help orient us for our visit the next day.  We arrived at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge a few hours before sunset. The sun was low in the sky and cast beautiful shadows and a golden light on the rolling hills of prairie grass. We drove the 3 mile Prairie-Marsh Scenic Drive and looked forward to more time at this refuge the next morning. 


Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge

Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, June 5, 2013

Thursday June 6, 2013 Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge

Karen Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013

The next morning we were up early and headed back to Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge.  We realized it was fortunate that we had stopped the night before because the amazing colors and shadows were gone from the rolling hills, the sun was now in the east.  

Ring-necked Pheasant, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013
Gadwall Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013

We photographed American White Pelicans in Lake Darling Dam area. Once again the sun was in the exact position for creating some wonderful photo opportunities.

American White Pelican, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013
American White Pelican Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge

We left Upper Souris before noon to leave plenty of time to visit J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge. As we were heading east on State Road 5 we saw this young Swainson's Hawk doing some fancy flying to avoid some Crows.

Red-winged Blackbirds in pursuit of a Young Swainson's Hawk, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, June 6, 2013
Young Swainson's Hawk upside down with two Crows on State Road 5 after we left Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, June 6, 2013.

We had enjoyed all the roads we had taken through North Dakota and State Road 5 was also scenic and a great ride to J. Clark Salyer NWR.  The staff at the J. Clark Salyer Visitor Center said some of the Scenic Trail Auto Tour was closed due to high water.  As we drove down the Auto tour we recognized the call of the Sora. Karen recorded a video from the car window of the Sora, a life bird for me.

Sora, J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, June 6, 2013
Eared Grebes, J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, June 6, 2013
American Avocet, J Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013

Eastern Phoebe, J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013
J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2013

J.Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge was not included on our original itinerary but it was

definitely one of our favorite Refuges in North Dakota.  We saw so many birds and worked very hard to identify sparrows perched on the fence rows and hopping along the gravel road. We had to enter the back section of the Refuge Auto Tour because part of the auto drive road was flooded. The scenery was amazing and we stayed in the area for some time watching Orioles, shorebirds, ducks, grebes, phoebe, bluebirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. We were tired and I collapsed in bed when we got back to the hotel in Minot.  We would be driving out of North Dakota the next day on highway 2 with many stops including Lake Alice NWR, Sully Hill Game Preserve, Devil's Lake WMD, Pleasant Lake NWR and Kelly's Slough NWR.  I had wanted to see the Northern Lights but forgot because of complete fatigue. Karen checked the Aurora Borealis forecast  on a website she had found on the internet. The site said the Aurora was very active with a score of 4.67. I popped out of bed, got dressed and tried to determine the best place to drive to be out of city lights of Minot. Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge was just 30 minutes away and there was a nice parking lot outside the main gate to the auto tour. As we headed to Upper Souris the skies were cloudy and bright, not ideal for observing the Aurora Borealis. 

Forecast of the Northern lights on the internet.

Just as the skies became dark the clouds parted and then dissipated, suddenly there it was, the Aurora across most of the sky, a curtain of shimmering light. It was very much like watching a murmuration of birds, an entity with a life of it's own.  We watched for over an hour, what a great way to spend our last night in North Dakota.

Northern Lights, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, June 6, 2013.

Friday June 7, 2013

The next morning we packed up our car and headed east on Highway 2. We would be spending the night in Minnesota but we still had lots of stops before we left North Dakota, an amazing state with so many birds and a fantastic landscape. Our first stop was Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We were taken aback by the large tractor trailer trucks driving on the small dirt roads at high speed. We were excited to see our first Snow Goose in North Dakota resting in a large body of water possibility Broken Bone Lake. We were not sure of Refuge boundaries so we drove on the roads that seemed to surround the Refuge. Most of the land looked private so we decided not to stop.

Area we thought might be Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge, June 7, 2013
Road surrounding area we thought was Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge, We saw these trucks on dirt road speeding past.June 7, 2013
Snow Goose at area we thought was Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge, June 7, 2013
Wilson's Phalarope at area we thought was Pleasant Lake NWR, June 7, 2013

After leaving the Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge we drove east on highway 2 toward our next scheduled stop Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge.


Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge

We found road signs for Lake Alice NWR but every road we tried was flooded so we stopped and photographed the birds on the flooded road. 

Sign indicating we were just 6 miles from Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge but with flooded roads we did not proceed. June 7, 2013
Roadway 6 miles from Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge June 7, 2013
Teresa taking a photo of the flooded road to Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge June 7, 2013
Northern Pintail in flood water on roadway to Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge, June 7, 2013
American Avocet in flood water on roadway to Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge, June 7, 2013

Devil's Lake Wildlife Management Area and Sully's Hill National Game Preserve

We headed to Devil's Lake Wildlife Management Area and found a Visitor Information Center. We drove around the beautiful Devil's Lake to get to Sully's Hill National Game Preserve. 

Devil's Lake Wildlife Management Area, June 7, 2013

We enjoyed our time at Sully's HIll National Game Preserve. We walked the many steps to an overlook platform for an amazing view of the area. We were able to get great photos of the prairie dogs and the Bison that live at the Preserve. 

Bison at Sully's Hill National Game Preserve, June 7, 2013
Prairie Dog at Sully's Hill National Game Preserve, June 7, 2013
Stairs to overlook at Sully's Hill National Game Preserve, June 7, 2013

Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge

The last stop before we left North Dakota was Kelly's Slough.  We met a couple and their children at the look out tower and spent time talking about life in Grand Forks, ND.  A young woman working on a high school project  approached us for help, she needed good photos of birds for identification purposes and she thought Karen's zoom lens would provide better photos. Karen took some bird photos with the young woman's SD card but the birds were so far away the photos were just ok.

Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge, June 7, 2013
Ruddy Duck, Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge, June 7, 2013
North Dakota map of National Wildlife Refuge with pins indicating the Refuges we visited.

We had seen the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota and the ducks and other migratory birds that breed in this area. I have never seen so many ducks in one area in my life.  This area of wetlands that extends from Alberta and Saskatchewan Canada into the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa is a critical habitat to ducks but these wetlands are threatened by agriculture. Thanks to all the groups and individuals that have worked so hard to conserve areas for rest and breeding for our duck and other waterfowl in North Dakota and surrounding areas.

My flight out of Indianapolis back to Chapel Hill was for late Sunday afternoon. We had 919 miles to drive to Indianapolis during the next 2 days, we looked at the map for National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin or Minnesota to visit on Saturday morning. We chose Crane Meadow NWR just 245 miles a 4 hour drive from our Last Refuge stop in North Dakota.


Saturday June 8, 2013 Crane Meadow National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday morning we were at Crane Meadow National Wildlife Refuge listening to Wood Ducks in flight and realizing how many species of birds were unable to identify by song.

We also visited Rice-Skunk Lake State Wildlife Management Area where we got some good looks at a Fox with her kits.

We decided to drive 429 miles a 6 hour drive to Milwaukee, WI to spend the night Saturday night. That would leave us 279 miles a 4 hour drive to Indianapolis for our Sunday.


Sunday June 9. 2013

Unaware of the traffic conditions around Chicago even on a Sunday, we realized we might have miscalculated our drive to the Indianapolis Airport as we drove in bumper to bumper traffic on the highways around the city of Chicago. We arrived about 1 hour before my flight only to find out it had been delayed by a couple of hours.



Refuges attempted to visit or visited during our North Dakota NWR Trip June 2013

Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge 6/1/13

Trempeauleau National Wildlife Refuge, WI 6/1/13

Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/2/13, 6/4/13

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/3/13

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/3/13

Slade National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/3/13 visited around gated area

Florence National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/4/13 not sure we found the refuge

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/4/13

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/5/13

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/5/13

Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/5/13, 6/6/13

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/6/13

Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/7/13 flooded roads- sign said 6 miles to refuge

Sully's Hill National Game Preserve, ND 6/7/13

Devil's Lake Wetland Management District, ND 6/7/13

Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/7/13 not sure we found the refuge

Silver Lake National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/7/13 not sure we found the refuge

Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge, ND 6/7/13

Crane Meadow National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota 6/8/13


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