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Birding With Jack: The Weekly Bird Census

Left to Right: Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Jack Chiles and Terry Goode

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.

Occasionally there is room for a serious birder to join them.  Contact us for more information about how to participate.  More About the Birds of Hagerman.

For historical records, visit the Birding with Jack Archives

Thank you, Bird Census Team!

Click to Enlarge Photos

June 11, 2024 Complete Bird Census

66 Species Observed +1 other taxa, 651 individuals


Black-necked Stilt

It was another pleasant day for our census. Much of the refuge is not accessible because of high water so we only did the survey on the east side of the refuge. Lake level appears to be slowly receding and hopefully Wildlife Drive will be reopened sometime next week, if we don't get more heavy rains in the lake watershed. Note to get to the west side of the refuge you have to go via Hwy 82 to Sadler. We saw a female Barn Owl and at least one owlet in the box in the maintenance shed. We got the first Inca Doves of the season, two of which were near a residence north of the refuge on the way to the Goode area. We heard Bell's Vireos singing in 5 different locations. We had a good count of 23 Painted Buntings, 8 Indigo Buntings and 3 Blue Grosbeaks. There was a Wood Duck and a Green Heron at Meadow Pond along with a lot of flowering American Lotus. We saw one Hairy Woodpecker on the north side of the refuge near the dead Cedar of Lebanon tree. There was a hen Wild Turkey on Raasch Trail near the entrance of the wooded area. We saw 3 Prothonotary Warblers and one Common Yellowthroat. We finished the day with 66 species. Today's photo is a Black-necked Stilt.

June 4, 2024 Complete Bird Census

74 Species Oberved, 810 individuals

Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, American Golden-plover with Whimbrel, Whimbrel, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Swainson's Hawk and Red-headed Woodpeckers

The early morning rain had just passed by as we began today's census. We had some very good late spring sightings today. In the pond on the left just before you get to Plover pad we saw 2 Whimbrels resting along with an American Golden-Plover, 4 Franklin Gulls, some White-rumped Sandpipers and a Semi-palmated Sandpiper. On the crossover from Egret pad to Tern pad we found a nice breeding plumage Black-crowned Night Heron along with some of the many Snowy Egrets we saw today. We saw 6 Red-headed Woodpeckers, 4 of which were at Deaver Pond. We got nice closeup looks at a Green Heron at Meadow Pond and we also saw a Belted Kingfisher there. Coming back from Meadow Pond we had great looks at an Olive-sided Flycatcher. There was a Swainson's Hawk at the southwest end of Short Road. We saw 3 mature Bald Eagles at Sandy Point flying out over the lake as well as 4 Black Terns. We saw a total of 10 Painted Buntings. We finished the day with 74 species. Today's photos, Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, American Golden-plover with Whimbrel, Whimbrel, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Swainson's Hawk and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Thanks for looking.


May 28, 2024 Complete Bird Census

79 Species Oberved, 784 individuals

Red-shouldered Hawks and Northern Rough-winged Swallow

The day started out stormy for the census but cleared up some by 10:30. The pad roads are now open but I don't know for how long with more rain and storms in the forecast. Early on we found a Red-breasted Merganser in the pool on the left before you get to Plover Pad. Birding was pretty slow until the rain let up. We got a couple of first of year swallow species, Tree Swallow and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. We found a lone Buff-breasted Sandpiper in an area on the north side of Silliman Rd. We found a couple of warbler species, Prothonotary Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler, We saw over 200 Western Cattle Egrets today. We had a total of 3 Eastern Kingbirds. There was a Bewick's Wren singing near the residences on the road to the Goode Area. We finished the day with 78 species which was not bad considering the slow start.

Today's photos, the young Red-shouldered Hawks near the Big Mineral Picnic Area, that seem to be doing well and the Northern Rough-winged Swallow we saw at Meadow Pond.



May 21, 2024 Complete Bird Census

70 Species Oberved, 696 individuals

Swainson's Hawk

It was a breezy day for our census. The main road thru the refuge is now open but the north low water crossing is still closed as well as Tern and Egret pad roads. The road to Plover pad is open. We went to Deaver Pond early on to look for the Anhingas that have been seen there recently but did not find them. There are some shorebirds present, the majority being White-rumped Sandpipers, but they can be hard to locate because many are feeding in vegetation since there are no mudflats. Other shorebirds present include, Pectoral Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson's Phalaropes, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Hudsonian Godwits and Killdeer. We did not see any warblers today. We saw a Wood Duck and a Belted Kingfisher at Meadow Pond. We are settling into a warm weather pattern and most of the migrants have passed through. Breeding birds are singing in many places. We finished a day curtailed by a thunderstorm with 70 species. Today's photo is a Swainson's Hawk.


May 14th, 2024 Complete Bird Census

94 Species Oberved, 719 individuals 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting

Today was cool with a northerly breeze blowing. Wildlife Drive as well as Bennett from the Big Mineral bridge west is still closed but the lake is receding and hopefully the roads will be opened again soon after the lake recedes another foot or so and necessary repairs are made. Early on we walked from headquarters to the Harris Creek bridge to observe some shorebirds and were treated to very close up views of Sanderlings, Stilt Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, White-rumped Sandpipers, a Baird's Sandpiper and Least Sandpipers as well a a couple of Tricolored Herons.. Black Terns and a Least Tern were also flying nearby. We saw a few warbler species but I suspect that will change later in the week. Indigo Buntings, Painted Buntings and Dickcissels were numerous. Summer Tanagers were singing in quite a few places. We found 3 Mississippi Kites on the far west side of the refuge. We saw 4 Greater Roadrunners. We saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Meadow Pond hawking insects from his perch high up on a dead tree. We finished the day with 94 species. Today's photos, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a skulker that you find in wooded areas but it is a species that is very easy to overlook. You are more likely to hear there strange calls. They are sometimes referred to as Rain Crows by locals. The other photo is an Indigo Bunting.

May 7th, 2024 Complete Bird Census

85 Species Oberved, +2 other taxa, 1,044 individuals 

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and a Bobolink

It was a clear sunshiny day for our census, with a break in the rain. But recent rains have caused the lake level in Lake Texoma to rise and Wildlife Drive is covered in water for much of its length and has been closed. Bennett Lane from the Big Mineral bridge to the west side of the refuge is also closed. We had to go on Hwy 82 to Sadler to get to the west side of the refuge. The pad roads are now under water. We found Bobolinks in quite a few places, including north of headquarters in the fields, and west of the refuge east of Short Road. Our final count on Bobolinks was 41. Dickcissels were singing most everywhere we went. One good find was a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on the far west side of the refuge. They are becoming more common in this area but we don't often see them on the refuge. On the edge of the water covering the road north of headquarters there were some shorebirds accumulated including a couple of Hudsonian Godwits, Stilt Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs. On the other end of Wildlife Drive we found a Black-necked Stilt, 4 Long-billed Dowitchers, 20 Wilson's Phalaropes. Painted Buntings were singing in many places. There were 3 Red-headed Woodpeckers at Deaver Pond. Flycatchers were abundant with 39 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, 17 Eastern Kingbirds, 5 Great Crested Flycatchers and 4 Western Kingbirds. We heard 9 Summer Tanagers. Warblers were conspicuously absent today and we only saw 1 Prothonotary Warbler and 2 Northern Parulas. We finished the day with 85 species.

April, 2024

April 30, 2024 Complete Bird Census

90 Species Oberved, +2 other taxa, 1641 individuals

Grasshopper Sparrow by Mike Sanders, Spotted Sandpiper, and White-faced Ibis

Bird migration is reaching peak activity with many migrants making their long journey north. We set out with high hopes for some exciting finds. Our first stop was Harris Creek Trail where we found our first new migrant – a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We also saw Painted and Indigo Buntings, a male and female Blue Grosbeak, and many of our usual birds. Four male Wood Ducks flew by and gave us all a good view. From there, we headed to the Goode picnic area. Along the way we saw a male Baltimore Oriole at the top of a tree. We also saw a large flock of Cedar Waxwings feasting on the nearly ripe Mulberries in a yard in the area. Our next destination was Enterprise Road where we made our first futile search for Bobolinks, but we had to settle for a Bell’s Vireo and more Blue Grosbeaks. We returned to the refuge and found a single Upland Sandpiper and a few Cormorants on Plover Rd. Ducks, shorebirds, and gulls were scarce due to high water after the recent rains. At Meadow Pond we found a Green Heron on the emerging Lotus pads and a Tree Swallow perched in a dead tree. Turtles were very active and we had to dodge several crossing roads and trails. Out west, we found some lingering Meadowlarks and some arriving Grasshopper Sparrows. Our final count for the day was 90 species of birds, three snakes, four turtles, and a very large spider crossing the road. Photos today are Grasshopper Sparrow by Mike Sanders, Spotted Sandpiper, and White-faced Ibis.


April 23, 2024 Complete Bird Census 

87 Species Observed +2 other taxa, 1,171 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard.

Savannah Sparrow, Upland Sandpipers, and a pair of Mallards.

The day started out cool but the sun soon brought the temperatures up and with it, the birds. The annual Turkey Hunt prevented us from taking our usual route for the bird census, so we improvised. We started the day with a short walk on the Harris Creek Trail, where we got good looks at a Spotted Sandpiper on the bank of the creek. From there we drove east of the refuge and picked up our first Western Cattle Egrets. By the end of the day, we had collected over 200 of those. Continuing east, we saw our first Wild Turkey crossing Old Quail Run. At Enterprise Road, we heard a Bell’s Vireo along with Blue Grosbeaks and a few of our 21 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. We returned to the refuge and along the Auto Tour Route we saw 26 White-faced Ibis fly by. The water levels are high so there are few places for shorebirds, but we found a few Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and some others. Blue-winged Teals were the most common ducks today. Out to the west of the refuge, a few Upland Sandpipers are still in the fields and a Broad-winged Hawk was resting on a wire. We logged 87 species today despite our unusual route. Today’s photos are a Savannah Sparrow, Upland Sandpipers, and a pair of Mallards.

April 16, 2024 Complete Bird Census 

97 Species observed, 1,270 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick. Laurie Sheppard, Nancy Riggs and Terry Goode.

Bald Eagles and a Solitary Sandpiper

Today was a mostly clear day with a moderate breeze blowing. Early on we went to the Goode area and saw a flyby Crested Caracara. Then when we got to Dead Woman Pond we were greeted by a beautiful male Prothonotary Warbler sitting up in a dead tree. We had an immature Bald Eagle fly into a tree on Dead Woman Pond.. As we drove toward it, it took flight and disappeared but we soon saw 2 more Bald Eagles there near the lake having a dispute over a fish that a mature Bald Eagle had picked up. A near mature Bald Eagle decided he would try to take it away from the other eagle which then proceeded to land on the shore with the fish. It soon flew off to the west and disappeared with the other eagle in hot pursuit. At the end of Plover Pad we found a Sanderling, a Western Sandpiper, 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 10 Hudsonian Godwits. In the last several days we have seen over a hundred Hudsonian Godwits come thru as well as a Marbled Godwit. The Yellow-headed Blackbirds have begun to come thru and we saw one on Plover Pad and more out on the west side of the refuge near Short Road. Summer Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Red-eyed Vireos as well as Bell's Vireos. have also arrived. We saw 2 Greater Roadrunners, We finished the day with 97 species. Today's photos Bald Eagles and a Solitary Sandpiper.

April 9, 2024 Complete Bird Census 

95 Species observed +1 other taxa, 1,229 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Laurie Sheppard, Gary Meyer, Ken Hobson, Liz Bell, Peter Dunwiddie


After heavy rain overnight there was lots of standing water and the creeks were flowing bank full, but we were able to complete the census without any more rain falling. We found several first of season birds including Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole and the rare Snowy Plover which is not seen very often at the refuge. The marshes were flooded so it was difficult to locate shorebirds but we did finish the day with 12 shorebird species including 73 Upland Sandpipers in the fields near Short Road. We saw one Black-chinned Hummingbird at the feeder at headquarters. 13 species of ducks were still present. The male Hooded Merganser is still present in Meyer's Branch near the north low water crossing. We saw a total of 7 newly arrived Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. We finished the day with 95 species. Today's photo is of a rare Snowy Plover, a small light colored plover similar in appearance to the Piping Plover.


April 2, 2024 Complete Bird Census 

100 Species observed, +1 other taxa, 1,757 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders and Gary Meyer.

Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, Lark Sparrow and Upland Sandpiper.

It was windy and chilly for today's census but it was a good day species wise for our count. As we started out we found a beautiful male Hooded Merganser in the marsh by the north low water crossing. Later we saw an adult Bald Eagle at Dead Woman Pond as well as a flyby Wood Duck. Shorebird numbers are increasing along with the number of species. We saw 139 Long-billed Dowitchers, 19 Wilson's Snipes, 7 Lesser Yellowlegs, 10 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Dunlin, 4 Baird's Sandpipers, 23 Least Sandpipers, 45 Pectoral Sandpipers, 3 Western Sandpipers, 2 Wilson's Phalaropes, 4 Killdeer, 2 American Golden-Plovers and 45 Upland Sandpipers. There were 12 Little Blue Herons all in a group in Mineral Marsh along with a Tricolored Heron. While we were at Mineral Marsh an Immature Bald Eagle flew over. There was an American Bittern in Taylor Marsh. We saw 3 Red-headed Woodpeckers, 3 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Pileated Woodpecker and a Hairy Woodpecker. We found a singing Black-and-white Warbler on the road to Sandy Point. We finished a great day with 100 species for the second week in a row. 

March, 2024

March 26, 2024 Complete Bird Census 

100 Species observed +1 other taxa,1,374 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard and Mike Sanders.


The day started out near freezing again with the wind blowing from the north. Shortly after we started out while heading for the Goode Area we were alerted by Laurie Lawler of a Burrowing Owl on Wildlife Drive. We immediately turned around and met her at the location near the first pullout. She had seen the owl sitting on a log not far from the road but it soon flew down into the tall grass and disappeared. We waited for a bit to see if it would reappear but it did not happen so we decided to walk out to see if we could find it. As we were walking it flushed and flew a short distance and just sat there and posed for us while we photographed it. I have been doing the census at the refuge for 35 years and this is the first one I have ever seen on the Refuge. The only other sightings that I am aware of on the refuge was a sighting by Karl Haller in the 80's and later one of the refuge staff reported seeing one probably about 20 years ago. Needless to say, all of our group was very excited, seeing this owl. We had a very good day and saw a first of the season, Little Blue Heron, Western Cattle Egret and Yellow-headed Blackbird. We also saw a recently arrived Tricolored Heron. 13 species of ducks are still present. Shorebird species seen today included Killdeer, Long-billed Dowitchers, Wilson's Snipes, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Baird's Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers and Pectoral Sandpipers. There was a Belted Kingfisher at Meadow Pond. We finished the day with 100 species, which is the highest census count in March that I ever remember. Today's photo is the Burrowing Owl.


March 19, 2024 Complete Bird Census 

90 Species observed +1 other taxa, 1,468 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders, Gary Meyer.

It was 29 Degrees as we started our census but warmed up nicely later in the day. No white geese were observed today and they are probably gone for the season. They should return next November. Lots of birds were singing today. We saw or heard 94 Northern Cardinals, 33 Tufted Titmice, and 21 Carolina Wrens. We saw 5 Wood Ducks at Dead Woman Pond. There was an immature Bald Eagle soaring over Sandy Point. Duck numbers are down from last week. The most numerous duck species were Green-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers and Gadwalls. There was a pair of Cinnamon Teals in the marsh by the north low water crossing. We saw a total of 5 Wild Turkeys and 4 Greater Roadrunners. There were a couple of Franklin Gulls mixed in with the Ring-billed Gulls off the end of Plover pad. We saw 22 Killdeer, 18 Greater Yellowlegs, 3 Long-billed Dowitchers, 10 Pectoral Sandpipers, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, 5 Least Sandpipers and 1 Wilson's Snipe. We had a first of season Snowy Egret. We finished the day with 90 species. Today's photos, American Kestrel, Sharp-shinned Hawk and immature Bald Eagle.

March 12, 2024 Complete Bird Census List

90 Species observed +2 other taxa, 1,424 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Wayne Meyer, Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard and Gary Meyer.

It was a windy day for today's count. We started out by looking for the Short-eared Owls that have been seen recently. Just before sunrise we were observing the area on the left, with a lot of dead vegetation, on Wildlife Drive east of the Harris Creek bridge and shortly one appeared. It flew around a bit before crossing the road and flying by fairly close affording everyone excellent views. If you would like to see one, that area would be an excellent place to look at dusk or at dawn as that is their favorite time to feed. There were still 72 Snow and Ross's Geese present. We were surprised to see 20 Wood Ducks at Dead Woman Pond. On Egret Pad we had a flyby Cinnamon Teal. We had several first of season birds including, Purple Martins, Marsh Wren, Pectoral Sandpipers and a couple of Franklin's Gulls. We saw 8 Brewers Blackbirds in the fields just west of the refuge. We finished the day with 90 species and migration is just starting. Today's photo is Short-eared Owl.


March 5, 2024 Complete Bird Census List

91 Species observed +2 other taxa, 3,261 individuals

Observers:Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Nancy Riggs, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders

Fox Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow

It was a cool and cloudy day for our census with a lot of bird activity. Surprisingly about 350 Ross's and Snow Geese are still present. There are also good numbers of ducks and some of the duck species with larger counts were, 174 Northern Shovelers, 413 Green-winged Teals and 151 Gadwalls. We saw 13 species of sparrows with a really good count of 25 Vesper Sparrows, 42 White-crowned Sparrows, 47 White-throated Sparrows, 40 Savannah Sparrows, 28 Dark-eyed Juncos as well as other sparrow species. We had a great count of 75 Northern Cardinals. We found a couple of Winter Wrens on our trip to Meadow Pond and Big Mineral Creek. We had the first Barn Swallows of the season. We had a high count of 18 Eastern Phoebes. There was one Great Egret present in Silliman Marsh. We finished the day with 91 species. Today's photos, Fox Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow.

March 2, 2024 The Little Sit Event Complete Little Sit List

46 Species observed +1 other taxa 1,074 individuals

The Little Sit is held at sunrise the first Saturday of every month, the public is welcome!

February, 2024

February 27 2024 Complete Bird Census List

82 Species Observed +2 other taxa, 2,800 individuals

Observers:Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders

Crested Caracara

It was a pleasant cloudy day for today's census. There are still about 500 Snow and Ross's Geese present and there is plenty for them to eat. Most of the Northern Pintails have left. We counted 291 Green-winged Teal, 127 Northern Shovelers, 117 Gadwalls, 15 Mallards, 17 Canvasbacks, 24 Ruddy Ducks, 5 Ring-necked Ducks, 8 Lesser Scaups, 1 Bufflehead, 1 Redhead, 4 American Wigeons, 2 Blue-winged Teal and only 52 Northern Pintails down from nearly 1000 present in recent weeks. We saw a flock of 14 Wild Turkeys on the pipeline easement north of Meadow Pond. We had 8 first of season Common Grackles and one really nice find was a Crested Caracara in a field on Short Road being harassed by an American Crow. We counted 55 Wilson's Snipes in the marsh just before the road to Plover Pad. The snipes were really well camouflaged and would be easy to overlook. There were 175 Ring-billed Gulls on the Sandbar off the end of J pad, along with 77 Forster's Terns. We saw a Hairy Woodpecker, 5 Red-headed Woodpeckers,12 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 5 Downy Woodpeckers, 7 Northern Flickers and 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We finished the day with 82 species. Today's Photo, Crested Caracara taken previously.

February 20, 2024 Complete Bird Census List

87 Species Observed +2 other taxa, 5,726 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders, Terry Goode and Nancy Riggs

American Woodcock

It was a beautiful day for today's bird census. We still have about 2000 white geese feeding on the wheat which is starting to grow again. Duck numbers are still very good with a large number of Northern Pintails, many of which are still in the Harris Creek marsh. The Cinnamon Teal is still present. We had 15 species of ducks today. There was one raft of 150 Redheads. The American Woodcocks were still present today displaying before sunrise in the field at the southeast corner of the refuge near the information pullout. We saw Winter Wrens, House Wrens, Caroling Wrens and Bewick's Wrens today. Eastern and Western Meadowlarks were singing in the field near Short Road. We found 12 species of sparrows. We had a good count of 4 Brown Creepers today, a species that has been hard to locate on the refuge this winter. We finished the day with 87 species. Today's photo from last year near Picnic Pond.

February 13, 2024 Complete Bird Census List

72 Species observed +3 other taxa, 2,857 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Laurie Sheppard and Terry Goode

Eastern Bluebird

It was a nice mostly calm day, starting out on the cold side but warming up nicely as the day progressed. Bird species count was down over 20 species from last week. Duck numbers are good with over a thousand Northern Pintails present. Other duck species seen were, 2 Blue-winged Teal, 65 Northern Shovelers, 132 Gadwalls, 7 American Wigeons, 24 Mallards, 178 Green-winged Teal, 36 Canvasbacks, 1 Redhead, 13 Ring-necked Ducks, 6 Lesser Scaups, 5 Buffleheads, 2 Common Goldeneyes, and 40 Ruddy Ducks. We saw 3 Wild Turkeys on our way to Meadow Pond.There were a total of 19 Wilson's Snipes, most of which were in the marsh just before the road to Plover Pad. We saw a total of 46 Greater Yellowlegs and 7 Least Sandpipers. We had a great count of 13 Red-shouldered Hawks and 6 Loggerhead Shrikes. It is a good year for White-crowned Sparrows with 37 for the day, many of which were near the butterfly garden. A female Spotted Towhee came out on the path in front of us as we were returning from a short walk on Harris Creek Trail. We had a good count of 49 Northern Cardinals. We finished the day with 72 species. Today's photo, an Eastern Bluebird.

Bird Walk February 10, 2024 Complete Bird List

42 Species observed in a 1.5 mile bird walk on Harris Creek Trail!

Join us for the next Early Bird Walk on March 9th at 8:00 AM meeting at the Visitor Center


February 6, 2024 Complete Bird Census List

93 Species observed +2 other taxa, 2,361 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Terry Goode, Mike Sanders, Carlos Haller, Nancy and Janet Heath.

The Red-headed Woodpecker near the bridge at the Big Mineral picnic area, the Winter Wren and the House Wren

It was a beautiful, calm, early February day for our census. Birds were very active. Snow and Ross's geese numbers were low today but the large flocks have been coming and going. Usually the best time to see the most geese is in the afternoon. It is getting near the time that most of the white geese will depart the refuge. Duck numbers are very good with nearly 700 Northern Pintails, many of which are in the marsh near the Harris Creek bridge. Other species of ducks seen today included, 2 Cinnamon Teal, 68 Northern Shovelers, 92 Gadwalls, 6 American Wigeons, 21 Mallards, 108 Green-winged Teals, 35 Canvasbacks, 30 Redheads, 10 Ring-necked Ducks, 1 Greater Scaup, several Lesser Scaups, 24 Buffleheads, 2 Common Goldeneyes, and 44 Ruddy Ducks. An American Woodcock was seen by one member of our team early on in the field at the southeast corner of the refuge on Bennett Lane. The Woodcocks will probably be leaving soon and the best time to see them is around dawn or dusk. We saw 4 species of Wrens today, a Winter Wren, near the low water crossing on Bennett, a House Wren on B pad, a Bewick's wren on the road to Goode and Carolina Wrens in several locations. The large culvert area on the crossover from C pad to Sandy Point road was good today, with a couple of Barred Owls hooting at each other, an Orange-crowned Warbler, an Eastern Towhee and several other species. We saw 5 species of Woodpeckers including several Red-headed Woodpeckers and a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers. We finished a great day with 93 species. Today's photos, The Red-headed Woodpecker near the bridge at the Big Mineral picnic area, the Winter Wren and the House Wren.

January, 2024

January 30, 2024 Complete Bird Census List

85 Species observed

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Terry Goode, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders and

Keiko Inagaki

American Pipit, Ring-billed Gulls and American White Pelicans of the end of J pad and a Northern Pintail

The weather was fantastic today for our census. The Long-tailed Duck is still present. It was a good day for ducks. The Long-tailed Duck has been using Silliman and Muleshoe marshes. Also still present are Canvasbacks with a total of 98 today. We saw 726 Northern Pintails, , 506 Green-winged Teals, 7 Ruddy Ducks, 2 Common Goldeneyes, 115 Gadwalls, 11 American Wigeons, 14 Mallards, all seen in the marshes. We also saw 40 Redheads and 24 Ring-necked Ducks in the large pond by the railroad tracks east of the refuge. We saw over 1200 Ring-billed Gulls as well as a mature Lesser Black-backed Gull and a couple of Herring Gulls. A large number of 7200 Snow and Ross's Geese were present arriving from south of the refuge as the day progressed. We saw 7 woodpecker species today. We had a good count of 7 Loggerhead Shrikes. A good number of 85 Savannah Sparrows were seen. We had a good count of raptors today with 11 Red-tailed Hawks and 8 Red-shouldered Hawks. We finished the day with 83 species. Today's photos, American Pipit, Ring-billed Gulls and American White Pelicans of the end of J pad and a Northern Pintail.

January 23, 2024  Complete Bird Census List

66 Species observed, +1 other taxa; 2,781 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick and Laurie Sheppard.

The Bald Eagle at Meadow Pond, Wilson's Snipes and the Long-tailed Duck

It was a dismal day with rain most of the time for our bird census but bird activity was good. The ice on the lake and in the marshes at the refuge is starting to melt and there are more patches of open water each passing day. First of all, the rare Long-tailed Duck is still present in the west end of Silliman Marsh. The Long-tailed Duck we had last year stayed around for several weeks and hopefully this one will do the same. Duck numbers and species numbers of ducks are also good. We estimated a total of 894 Northern Pintails, and also counted 4 Wood Ducks, 41 Northern Shovelers, 145 Gadwalls, 18 American Wigeons, 70 Mallards, 93 Green-winged Teals, 18 Canvasbacks, 12 Ring-necked Ducks, 13 Lesser Scaups, 28 Buffleheads, 2 Common Goldeneyes, and 1 Hooded Merganser. An immature Bald Eagle that was harassing American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes last week at Meadow Pond was still present there today. We found a nice flock of 17 Wilson's Snipes near the entrance to Wildlife Drive. We counted 54 Dark-eyed Juncos most of which were in a large flock picking up grit on the road to Sandy Point. We found one flock of Brewer's Blackbirds on Judge Elliot Road. We counted almost 800 Red-winged Blackbirds. We finished the day with 65 species. Today's photos, Long-tailed Duck, the Bald Eagle at Meadow Pond and Wilson's Snipes.

January 21, 2024


Long-tailed Duck

Once again this year we have a rare visitor, a Long-tailed Duck. This is a male in winter plumage. It is present today in the western portion of Silliman Marsh. 01-21-24. There is still a lot of ice at the refuge but the areas of open water in the marshes is good for lots of Buffleheads, Lesser Scaups and Canvasbacks, as well as the usual wintering duck species that visit the refuge each year.

January 9, 2024  Complete Bird Census List

75 Species Observed +2 other taxa, 6,887 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders, Chuck and Kris Carlson, Kitta Dory

American Bittern

Tropical Kingbird

There was a stiff breeze and a chill in the air today but it was not near as bad as we had anticipated. There was a good rain yesterday and there is a lot of water standing in some places on the refuge. It was too muddy to go to some of the areas. The Tropical Kingbird is still present and this week might be your last chance to see it if you have not already, with severe cold forecast for the first part of next week. Our best sighting of the day was near the end of our census, an American Bittern in the marsh on the left just before you get to the Harris Creek bridge. It was in the dead vegetation and we were fortunate that Mike Petrick happened to spot it. There were over 2000 Gulls present today, mostly Ring-billed Gulls and 11 Herring Gulls. A little over 2000 white geese were present in the lake off the end of Plover pad. Shorebird numbers are down due to the lack of habitat due to the higher lake levels but we did see Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Least Sandpipers, Wilson's Snipes and one Western Sandpiper. Duck numbers are still good and a lot of them are close to the roads making for great viewing. There were 9 Pied-billed Grebes at Meadow Pond. We finished the day with 75 species. Today's photos, the American Bittern and the continuing Tropical Kingbird, a rarity for this area.

January 2, 2024  Complete Bird Census List

77 Species observed +2 other taxa 12,414 individuals

Observers: Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick, Laurie Sheppard, Mike Sanders

LeConte's Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

The morning started out cold and cloudy and there was very little bird activity at the beginning but things picked up soon. We went to Raasch Trail just past the bridge to begin with and there we saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Pileated Woodpecker but there was not the usual sparrow activity in that area. We then walked the entrance to Harris Creek trail and got Spotted Towhees, a Lincoln's Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrows and a few other species. We then went to the Goode Area via the north low-water crossing and found a lot of bird activity just past Myer's Branch. It was very still this morning so when we got to the Goode Area we decided to walk the field on the left side past the entrance gate to look for the much sought after LeConte's Sparrows. It is a tough area to walk but we were successful and found at least three LeConte's Sparrows and heard a Sedge Wren. After our walk in the field as we progressed down the road to Goode we found a Brown Thrasher and some Field Sparrows. There are still about 8000 white geese on the refuge but they have eaten most of the wheat on the refuge so pretty soon they will go out most days and feed on the farm fields in the area and come in from time to time to bathe and rest. We saw a couple of Greater Road Runners. There are lots of ducks on the refuge, especially Green-winged Teal with a total of 559 for today and 474 Northern Pintails, 12 Canvasbacks, 12 Buffleheads, 161 Gadwalls, 118 Northern Shovelers, 31 Mallards, 13 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Lesser Scaups and 3 American Wigeons. We did not see the Tropical Kingbird today but it was still on Terry Lane yesterday afternoon. We finished the day with 77 species. Today's photos, LeConte's Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow.

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Sherman, TX 75092

             

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