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Birding with Jack

Master Naturalist Jack Chiles,

Mike Petrick and Dr. Wayne Meyer

Each Tuesday a team of experienced birders, including Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, traverse 35 miles of refuge roads and hiking trails, documenting every bird they encounter. This Bird Census is reported to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in research, and each week we will bring you a link to their actual bird count, and a summary of their adventures.

Thank you, Bird Census Team!

**Point to bird images for full screen view**

July 20: Bird Census Results

The flooding at the refuge is gradually receding but it will probably be a while before the level will be down enough to cleanup and reopen the roads. So we continue doing the census on the outskirts of the east side of the refuge. The three young Barn Owls are still in the box in the maintenance shed but should be leaving soon. We stopped in the overflow parking area at the visitor center and were able to observe lots of Canada Geese, egrets and herons feeding in the flooded fields to the north. We did see several Wood Ducks in that area. We went to Dead Woman Pond early on and found the continuing Red-headed Woodpeckers feeding in that area. We also saw a Mississippi Kite and a Green Heron there both sitting in the same dead tree. The Hibiscus that are blooming there were even more spectacular than last week. The buntings and Northern Cardinals were very active this morning which was a quite pleasant day for this time of year We did hear one singing Summer Tanager. For anyone interested in seeing the 50 acres of American Lotus blooming at Meadow Pond, this would probably be the best time. We saw 58 species in the 4 hours that we were out. Today's photo is a panoramic view of the American Lotus in full bloom at Meadow Pond taken with my iPhone. Best viewed full screen.

   American Lotus in full bloom at Meadow Pond

July 13: Bird Census Results

The refuge is still flooded and the lake level is around 623 feet above sea level so it will probably be flooded for some time. The Barn Owls are still in the nest box in the maintenance shed. From the visitor center parking lot we observed many Canada Geese and egrets along the waters' edge along with an American White Pelican. We saw Red-headed Woodpeckers along the Harris Creek Trail, at Dead Woman Pond and at Deaver Pond. There were 3 Anhingas in some trees near the flooded areas along the south end of Wildlife Drive. Northern Cardinals, Blue Grosbeaks, Painted Buntings, and Indigo Buntings were numerous. We observed Wild Turkeys walking down the road on the way to the Goode Area. We saw a pair of Black-and-white Warblers on the road to Meadow Pond just past the long bridge and a little farther down the road we had close up looks at a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron feeding in the ditch along the roadside. We finished the day with 59 species. Today's photos, a lone pink Hibiscus blooming amongst a large number of blooming white Hibiscus, There are more Hibiscus blooming at the refuge especially in the vicinity of Dead Woman Pond than I have ever seen and this is the first pink blossom that I have ever observed on the refuge. A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and a couple of Red-headed Woodpeckers at Deaver Pond. They also had a young bird with them.

Pink Hibiscus

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Red Headed Wood Peckers
  Pink Hibiscus             Yellow-Crowned Night Heron        Red Headed Wood Peckers           

July 06: Bird Census Results

We had to do an abbreviated census today, doing only the outskirts of the east side of the refuge. The reason being that the lake level is high again, at 623 feet above sea level. The water covers Wildlife drive at 621 feet above sea level Thus the main roads thru the refuge are blocked off. The only shorebird we saw was a flyby Killdeer. Painted Buntings were numerous and they are now starting their second nesting. We saw several males displaying in the roads. We did hear singing Summer Tanagers at a couple of locations. Because of all the rain we have had this spring the vegetation is very thick most everywhere and is very green. We saw one Greater Roadrunner perched in the top of a tree, not where you typically see them. There were lots of egrets and herons on the flooded roads. We saw Red-headed Woodpeckers both at Deaver and Dead Woman ponds. There are still 3 young Barn Owls in the box in the maintenance shed. We were happy to have the van back with the AC fully functional. We finished the day with 52 species in less than four hours. There were few photo ops today so I am including a Wild Turkey photo taken earlier this spring.

Wild Turkey
  Wild Turkey 

June 29: Bird Census Results

It was a very pleasant, mostly cloudy day for the census. Egret and Plover pads are now open. Tern pad is closed for nesting Least Terns. We did see a total of 10 Least Terns feeding. There is an abundance of herons and egrets around the pads. Red-shouldered Hawks were abundant today with a count of 12. We saw Red-Headed Woodpeckers at both Deaver pond and the crossover between C pad and Sandy Point road. There was a good number of Painted Buntings with at least 16 sighted. Northern Cardinals were abundant with a count of 33. We saw over a hundred Canada Geese. There were 3 American White Pelicans near Goose Point. We finished the day with 56 species. Today's photos, Lark Sparrow that we saw in the Butterfly Garden and a pair of Wood Ducks spotted near Goose Point.

Pair of Wood Ducks

Lark Sparrow
  Pair of Wood Ducks         Lark Sparrow

June 22: Bird Census Results

We had a beautiful, cool summer day for today's bird census. The main pad roads off of Wildlife Drive are still closed awaiting cleanup and repairs. We walked to the photo blind on Harris Creek Trail and saw the resident Red-headed Woodpeckers, a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher and numerous Painted and Indigo Buntings. There was also a singing Orchard Oriole there. In the field on the left just after we turned onto Wildlife Drive we saw a good number of Killdeer, a bird that has been unusually scarce this year, up until now. There we also found a Willet a large shorebird that you usually don't see here in early summer. As we proceeded down Wildlife Drive we saw a Wood Duck sitting in a dead tree near the entrance to Plover Pad. We saw a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on the road to Meadow Pond and a couple of Green Herons at Meadow Pond. The Lotus at the far end of Meadow Pond are now blooming nicely. There was a Prothonotary Warbler singing at the low water crossing on Bennett. The approaches to that low water crossing have been repaired but it is still covered by some water. The young Barn Owls were still in the maintenance shed. We finished the day with 70 species. Today's photos: Neotropic Cormorant showing the green eye and the V shaped white feathers below the eye and the lack of yellow on the lores which distinguishes it from the Double-crested Cormorant, a Snowy Egret showing off its yellow toes, an Indigo Bunting and a Greater Roadrunner.

Neotropic Cormorant

Greater Roadrunner
  Neotropic Cormorant      Greater Roadrunner        

Indigo Bunting

Snowy Egret
  Indigo Bunting         Snowy Egret


June 15: Bird Census Results

Summer has not arrived yet but it sure did feel like summer today. It was very still making it seem that much hotter. Notable sightings today included a family of Pileated Woodpeckers that we saw flying in and out of the trees on the road ahead of us on the way to Meadow Pond. There is now a family of Barn Owls in the maintenance shed. They have nested there before. We saw a couple of Wild Turkeys and a Greater Roadrunner. The lake is still above 620" and some of the pad roads are still closed. Also I would not advise attempting to cross the low water crossing on Bennett. There is a deep washed out area at each end of the crossing. We did not see a single shorebird today and the absence of Killdeers is puzzling. Wildflowers are really putting on a show this year and it is worth a trip to the refuge just to see them. We finished the day with 63 species. Today's photo is a Green Heron that perched up for us at Deaver Pond.

Green Heron
  Green Heron

June 8: Bird Census Results

The good news is that we did not have to contend with the rain this morning. The lake is over part of the pad roads but the main road is still open and the low water crossing on Bennett is still passable if you have a vehicle with high clearance but be sure and don't take any chances. We did not see any unusual birds today, only the usual summer breeding birds and a few non-breeders including 3 American White Pelicans. There are lots of Canada Geese spread out over the refuge with a count of 145 today. We only heard one Prothonotary Warbler. We did see one mature Bald Eagle sitting in a tree across the lake from Sandy Point. Buntings were present in good numbers. We saw a couple of male Painted Buntings displaying for females. We finally saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Hummingbird numbers seem to be very low this year. We finished the day with 64 species. Photos opportunities were few today. Today's photo is a female Dickcissel, one of our local breeding birds.

Female Dickcissel
  Female Dickcissel

June 1: Bird Census Results

The first bird census of June started out on an unseasonably cool cloudy day. The lake is rising threatening to cover the main road. Several of the pad roads are already closed and the low water crossing on Bennett was barely passable for the van. Most everywhere you look there is water. We did not see a single shorebird and only heard a single Killdeer. We saw a pair of Wood Ducks up close at Deaver Pond and also saw several Red-headed Woodpeckers there as well as a Barred Owl. Buntings were abundant and were singing at many locations. We heard 2 singing Eastern Wood-Pewees. Cliff Swallows were abundant and we also saw a couple of Tree Swallows, a Cave Swallow and some Barn Swallows. We finished the day with 12 Eastern Bluebirds including at least 6 young bluebirds which is encouraging after losing so many to the severe cold this winter. . We saw a Green Heron at Meadow Pond and a couple more on the west side of the refuge. All of the birds we saw today were birds that breed here in the spring and summer. We finished the day with 70 species. Today's photos, Tree Swallow, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Wood Ducks, Mallard family, Canada Geese.

Tree Swallow

White Eyed Vireo
Blue Grosbeck
Blue Grosbeak
  Tree Swallow        White-eyed Vireo       Blue Grosbeak

Wood ducks

Mallard Family

Canada Geese

  Wood Duck           Mallard Family         Canada Geese

Birding with Jack Archives

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