Last week our Communications staff put out this news release stating that now is a good time for eagle viewing. It is. A portion of my trek to twitch the Brown Pelican last Saturday included a stop at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area. The recent cold snap froze Lake McConaughy and almost all of Lake Ogallala. However, this can be positive because limited open water will concentrate birds. Since open water (and very importantly food) is present immediately in the spillway at Lake Ogalalla, it provides a great opportunity to see Bald Eagles and several species of gulls and waterfowl at close range. Central Nebraska Public Power District provides a great set-up for eagle viewing at Lake O (as well as at the J-2 Plant near Lexington).
While the masses love to see eagles (and eagles are, indeed, cool), most hardcore birders like me get a little more excited about gulls. Several species of gulls can be present at sites such as Lake Ogalala. Gulls, in general, are an identification challenge. Furthermore, there is always the allure that rare gulls or even a mega-rarity might be found. Early in the new year, an Ivory Gull discovered in Quincy, Illinois, sent shock waves of excitement through the birding community. If you head to Lake Ogallala to watch eagles, be sure to also notice the gulls and waterfowl. Even though there were only about 50 gulls present total, there were six species. Below, I provide a few photos from my brief stop.