NOTICE: Weather permitting, the entire refuge will be CLOSED on Thursday, March 30, 2023, for an aerial feral hog control operation.
Thank you, Jack Chiles,
for the photos below.
April 27: Bird Census Results
Today was a cool cloudy day and there was lots of bird activity. The last week of April and the first week of May are probably the most exciting times to do the bird census at the refuge. Many migrants are arriving as well as a lot of the local breeding birds. Some of the birds that winter here have not left yet so it makes for great counts on the census. Of course most birders get excited when the Bobolinks arrive and that happened late yesterday afternoon. We found at least 30 singing males today in the vetch fields along Wildlife Drive and Silliman Road. Dickcissels have also arrived in large numbers and were very vocal as is the case every year when they arrive. Some will nest here but many will move on to other areas north of here. Due to the recent rain Steedman Marsh has filled with water and so the large numbers of shorebirds have moved to other parts of the refuge, especially the shallow areas west of J Pad. Many of the Hudsonian Godwits have moved on but we still counted 22 individuals today. We found at least 182 Wilson’s Phalaropes. Other shorebirds that were numerous included, 62 Baird’s Sandpipers, 65 Least Sandpipers, 93 Long-billed Dowitchers and 22 Lesser Yellowlegs. We had 4 warbler species, but only 1 of each, Prothonotary, Mourning, Yellow and Wilson’s Warbler. We saw 22 Swainson’s Hawks sitting in the fields on the west portion of the refuge near Short Road. There were 3 Red-headed Woodpeckers at Deaver Pond. We saw a Merlin a couple of times on Wildlife Drive. We saw 10 Yellow-headed Blackbirds near Mineral Marsh. We also saw first of season Orchard Orioles and Green Herons. We finished the day with 100 species and hope to best that number next week. Today's photos, Bobolinks and Hudsonian Godwit. Thanks for looking.
Bobolink Bobolink Hudsonian Godwit
April 20: Bird Census Results
Shortly after we arrived at the refuge to do the census the cold front arrived with very strong frigid winds, at least frigid for this late in the spring. with a freeze forecast for tomorrow morning. So birds were hunting sheltered areas. It was a very good day especially for shorebirds, with 16 species tallied. The shorebirds were spread out and challenging to count. The lake is still down and there is an abundance of mudflats. We saw a first of season American Avocet, 18 Hudsonian Godwits, 149 Baird's Sandpipers, 26 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 58 Long-billed Dowitchers, 2 Western Sandpipers and 10 other shorebird species. We saw a Black-and-White Warbler on the road to Sandy Point and at Sandy Point we saw the newest pair of Bald Eagles sitting on the shore along with an immature Bald Eagle. On Tern Pad we drove up on a large flock of 50 Mature male Yellow-headed Blackbirds feeding on recently hatched out insects. Probably the best sighting of the day was a couple of Clay-colored Sparrows on Short Road. At least 2 Cinnamon Teals are still present as well as a good assortment of other duck species. We finished the day with 93 species which is amazing considering the windy conditions. The next three weeks, birding should be exceptionally good and it is a good time to plan a trip to the refuge. Photos from today include female American Avocet, identified as a female due to shorter more strongly recurved bill than a male. A Clay-colored Sparrow and a group of Great Blue Herons fishing accompanied by an American White Pelican feeding off the end of Goose Point giving you an idea of the conditions on the lake today.
Great Blue Heron w/Pelican Clay Colored Sparrow Female American Avocet
April 13th: Bird Census Results
The morning started out cool, light jacket weather, with a stiff northeastern breeze. We started by going down Raasch Trail not seeing much activity, just the usual vultures, titmice, chickadees etc. We then went north to the Goode area and Dead Woman Pond. About the only activity there was a flyby Wood Duck and an assortment of shorebirds on the shore of the lake. Later as we ventured down Wildlife Drive we found a group of six mature Yellow-headed Blackbirds on the shore. Then we continued out to the end of Plover Pad and found some American White Pelicans, and Forster's Terns sitting on a sandbar. We also saw both Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants there. As we continued on to the other pads we saw a good number of shorebirds, mostly Baird's Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. As we continued on to Silliman Marsh we saw the large group of Long-billed Dowitchers that have been around for some time. We also saw some arriving first of season Franklin Gulls. Later in Mineral Marsh we saw a lot of ducks including 7 male Cinnamon Teals and American Wigeons. On our way to Meadow Pond we saw a first of season Swainson's Thrush and 4 first of season Summer Tanagers. In a field on the west side of the refuge we saw a flock of Upland Sandpipers. We had a flyover immature Bald Eagle at Goode and Lucy was present early on. We finished the day with 86 species. Photos from today, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Franklin Gulls, Swainson's Thrush, Summer Tanager. The next several weeks should be very good as migration picks up.
Yellow Headed Blackbird Franklin Gulls<! Second Set of 3 pics, copy path and update caption >
Summer Tanager Swainson's Thrush
April 6: Bird Census Results
Today was a cloudy, windy morning, starting out cool but warming up later in the day. Early on in the day we had a close flyby Peregrine Falcon while we were driving down Wildlife Drive. There were good numbers of shorebirds in Muleshoe and Steedman Marsh. A standout was an early season Marbled Godwit in Steedman Marsh. Pectoral Sandpipers were abundant with a total of 135 for the day. Baird's Sandpiper count was 113. Long-billed Dowitchers were also abundant.. In a field near the far side of Short Road we saw 24 Upland Sandpipers our first of the season. Near Brooke's Farm we saw a Swainson's Hawk sitting in a tree near the road and another one near the end of the road to Meadow Pond. Lucy was sitting on her favorite pole. We found a couple of Wood Ducks on a small pool on the far west side of the refuge. Two of the Cinnamon Teal were still present in Mineral Marsh along with a good variety of ducks including, 14 Redhead. 13 American Wigeon, a Northern Pintail and many Blue-winged Teal. We saw a Broad-winged Hawk at Meadow Pond. We finished the day with 83 species. Today's photos, Swainson's Hawk, Lucy, the Bald Eagle, Marbled Godwit and Marbled Godwit.
Marbled Godwit Lucy, Bald Eagle Swainson's Hawk
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