It was another pleasant spring day in Iowa as 12 young birders, parents, and friends embarked on a search for birds at Dudgeon Lake Wildlife Area near Vinton, Iowa. Dudgeon Lake is well known for hosting a variety of birds including Prothonotary Warbler, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Pileated Woodpecker, all of which prefer the vast expanse of flooded forests found on the area. It is also a favorite location of young birder Coralee Bodeker, who served as co-leader and local expert on our trip. As we gathered in the parking lot, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo sang from across an adjacent pond and several Great Crested Flycatchers were vocalizing in the nearby trees. These birds excited us all to search for more!
As we started down the road, we immediately heard a Gray Catbird singing in the shrubs and learned the call note of a nearby Rose-breasted Grosbeak (a quick squeeze of a squeaky toy). We stopped to watch a male American Redstart foraging low in a tree and listened to an Indigo Bunting singing along the edge of an open field, all the while numerous Turkey Vultures were soaring overhead and Tree Swallows cruising by. Further up the road we encountered both a Wilson’s Warbler and a Tennessee Warbler, our first two migrants of the trip. While hiking down the road, we also stopped to admire a baby Painted Turtle and baby Snapping Turtle found by young birder Andi, as well as several turtles basking on logs in the water.
Next, we started down a trail towards some ponds in search of waterbirds. We were greeted by a singing Common Yellowthroat and a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds. Further along, we spotted a Red-headed Woodpecker perched high on a snag and were able to get great views through the spotting scope. Approaching another pond, we spotted an American Coot and later a Spotted Sandpiper foraging along the shore. We started back towards the vehicles, hearing a singing Warbling Vireo and later seeing a Green Heron flying away over a pond. It was a great finish to a great morning!
Many thanks to Coralee Bodeker and her family for helping organize and lead this trip! We’re also grateful to volunteer leaders Linda Rudolph and Bill Scheible for joining us on this fine morning. You can view our species list here and some photos from our trip here.