Due to the lack of spring runoff and no risk for flooding, we've been fortunate enough to start drawing down (i.e dewatering) Cory Lake (aka Hamlin Wildlife Management Area) and expose prime mudflats just in time for the shorebird migration. Cory Lake is located about 4 miles west of Dawson on 212 and 2 miles south. In previous years we've attracted 1,400 plus shorebirds in the fall, but this has been our first chance to experiment with spring manipulations. My family made a visit to the site this morning to sample the results and I couldn't be more pleased. First off, the 150 acre basin is already about 80% dewatered. What water remains is harboring many 6" carp that are an obvious draw for pelicans, eagles, ring-billed gulls, herring gulls (at least one), bonapartes gulls, great egrets, GB herons and one big snapping turtle. There are also several thousand shorebirds and ducks (including pretty much every dabbler we have, but mostly teal).
The highlights included: 5 avocets, 23 ibis (at least 7 were white-faced, but we weren't close enough to the other 16), several godwits that looked to be mostly marbled but we're almost positive there was at least one Hudsonian, and one striking breeding drake cinnamon teal. The cinn teal appeared to be by himself at first, but then seemed pretty tight to a hen that we couldn't id.
I have photos of the avocet, wf ibis and cinn teal if anyone is interested. Sorry, I'm not techie enough to know how to post them! :(
I invite folks to get out there and enjoy this opportunity, but I also hope folks will respect our efforts to improve stop-over habitat for these critters and view them with minimal disturbance.
For what it's worth, I wanted to throw out a kudos to DNR's primary partner with this project: Ducks Unlimited. They made a key land acquisition, which without it we wouldn't be able to manage water levels on this basin. They also went above and beyond with their efforts to design and construct a water control structure that could accomplish exactly what was needed to improve water quality and habitat within this drainage. The project was primarily funded by a NAWCA Grant (North American Waterfowl Conservation Act); these federally appropriated funds have been dwindling, so please continue to let your congress men and woman hear your support for NAWCA appropriations that can make projects like this possible. With that, I must also throw in a plug for DNR's attempts to secure a License Fee Increase during this session. Even if we can obtain federal funds to construct the projects, we still need a sufficient Game and Fish Fund to keep these sites operating into the future.
Curt Vacek, LQP Area Wildlife Supervisor
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