August 16 – 21, 2020.
After our trip to Glacier National Park, we were once again looking for a place where we could just relax and pursue our newest hobby, stalking birds. Along our path to our next provisioning stop in Great Falls, I found Freezout Lake.
Freezout Lake is a Montana Wildlife Management area (WMA). Most states have WMAs or something equivalent. Usually, they are intended for the conservation of wildlife habitats and recreational activities such as birding, hiking, and hunting. Each state has different rules for their WMAs. Some you can camp at, some require an entrance fee, some encourage hiking and birding, and some seem to be strictly for hunting. Here in Colorado where we are right now, entering the equivalent of a WMA (called SWAs – State Wildlife Areas) one has to have a valid hunting or fishing license. Guess birds will be safe from the click of my camera in SWAs in Colorado.
We have visited a few WMAs before but Freezout Lake has topped them all. Over two hundred and thirty different species of birds have been documented on the WMA 12,000 acres. Of course, we didn’t get close to that number with our sightings but saw lots of birds we have never seen in the wild before along with a few critters, bugs, and reptiles. There was a nice free designated camping area plus you were allowed to camp at any of the designated parking areas throughout the WMA. Although there were no large towns nearby we had a great internet connection for our phone and tablet. The WMA has a couple of named lakes and many smaller ponds. One of the lakes has a boat ramp so we took the opportunity to blow up our kayak, Pirogue Bleue, and paddle her around a couple of times. And the sunrises and sunsets were spectacular!
It’s just too bad we visited in the summer and not the spring when Swans and White Geese stop by Freezout Lake during their migration. According to the Freezout Lake website as many as 300,000 white geese and 10,000 swans have been observed at the WMA at one time – although they point out this isn’t the norm.
The website also has some great resources for download on birds found at the WMA and White Geese. Check out those resources here on the WMA Map & Information tab.
* All pics are click to enlarge.
** We use iNaturalist for all of our wildlife ids. Sometimes we make mistakes. To see all of our iNaturalist observations, click here.