In 1995, the refuge did not have a nice building and visitor center. It had a self-guided auto tour road. Hikers were not really supposed to be on that for some reason, but we got away with it. We only saw maybe 2 cars in the whole distance. Now there are really nice displays, educational programs, and offices. The Central Flyway Chapter of the NCTA keeps a designated trail mowed. They just mowed 7 miles of it on Friday.
The refuge takes its name from Lake Audubon, which is the eastern portion of Lake Sakakawea. There is a two-mile causeway that serves as the dividing line between the lakes. You can just see it in the distance in this picture- the light colored line that goes all the way across.
I DID see lots of wildlife, and I took a ton of pictures. Not all of them are so good. I'll only show you a few today. I might get better pictures of some of these critters yet. The wildlife doesn't stay inside the refuge boundaries.
The yellow-headed blackbirds are like old friends to me. I first encountered them in the summer of 1993 when I was working at a wetland project in Illinois. I think they are really lovely birds.
This little one was standing tall in the trail ahead of me. I wasn't sure what it was until I could see the picture on my computer. It's a 13-lined ground squirrel, the same as I have at home. That was a little disappointing, but this one seemed very tall to me. Perhaps they grow a little bigger here.
This is a duck I've also seen at home, but not very often. And this is defintely my best picture of one. This is the male Northern Shoveler.
There are deer everywhere- ho hum. I don't find them very interesting unless they are doing something a little special. This one was enjoying a nice drink at the lakeshore.
The trail doesn't follow the lakeshore the entire way, but it gets close often enough that you can really enjoy the views of the water. I took way too many pictures- all of them poor substitutes for the real thing.
My most interesting "wildlife" encounter was with the cattle, er "beef," as they say out here. It's not uncommon for the trail to go through a pasture in North Dakota. Usually the beef just ignore hikers. When this herd saw me, they briefly moved farther away.
Then they turned around and came TROTTING toward me. Cows are curious creatures, but they were very interested. Perhaps they thought I was bringing them some fresh hay. With all this grass, I wouldn't think they'd get hay delivered to them very often.
I mean, they got really close! Several stood right in the trail. I walked slowly and talked a good line- I addressed them by ear tag number and made suggestions about the kind of behavior I expected, or complimented the mamas on their babies. I did suggest that 7707 not smear the foot-long mucus drip he was working on all over me. Did I mention they were close? At any rate, they did let me pass, although I had to walk out in the grass.
Miles today: 16.2. Total miles so far 2481.6.
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