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Birding with Jack

Thank you, Jack Chiles,

for the photos below.

May 25: Bird Census Results

Lake Texoma elevation is rising and some of the pad roads are submerged or soon will be. We felt fortunate being able to go down Wildlife Drive. We did get to see a few shorebirds on some of the pad roads since there are no mudflats. The rain held off early on but picked up as the day went on. We walked the short loop of Harris Creek Trail by the photo blind early on and had a Red-headed Woodpecker land near by and give us plenty of looks. On the back side of the loop returning to the photo blind area we saw a couple of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, a species that we don't see some years. We also had closeup looks at a pair of Painted Buntings and the female was carrying nesting material. There were still a few Black Terns and Forster's Terns and some Least Terns have arrived. At Deaver we flushed Lucy, the Bald Eagle near the road where she had apparently been eating a fish. When we arrived at Meadow Pond we were surprised to see a pair of Anhingas on the far shore sitting in a dead tree. We saw a good number of buntings, including Painted Buntings, Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks. On the road to Sandy Point we saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher sitting in the top of a dead tree. We quit early, ending up with 73 species. Today's photos, Red-headed Woodpecker, Painted Bunting and Anhingas.

Red headed Woodpecker

Anhingas by Mike Petrick
 Red Headed Woodpecker    Anhingas by Mike Petrick        

Male Painted Bunting

Male Painted Bunting
  Male Painted Bunting         Painted Bunting 

May 18: Bird Census Results

It was a very still morning with lots of clouds foreboding the heavy rains expected soon. Water levels are high and there are no mudflats. If the heavy rains do come the lake will probably cover the main roads at the refuge. Hopefully that does not happen. Spring migration is coming to an end and it appears the Bobolinks have moved on after one of the best Bobolink migrations that I can remember. We saw 3 Red-headed Woodpeckers by the photo blind on Harris Creek Trail and a family of White-breasted Nuthatches in the large willow there. Some shorebirds were present but were difficult to see. We saw a total of 11 Wood Ducks, including a group of 8 at the south end of Deaver Pond. After not seeing many Greater Roadrunners lately we saw 5 today. We found 6 Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Lucy the Bald Eagle was sitting on the power pole at the end of Egret Pad. Most of the ducks have moved on. Black Tern numbers were way down with only 6 seen after reports of hundreds yesterday. There was a Belted Kingfisher at the end of Sandy Point. We finished up early because of the rain but tallied 75 species. Today's photo is of a male Painted Bunting with a very interesting plumage variation. Normally the mature males are all red underneath. This one also has a tinge of green on the lores, the area between the eye and the bill. Thanks for looking.

Male Painted Bunting
  Male Painted Bunting

May 12, Special Update: Today I observed a first for me, after more that thirty years of observing Bobolink flocks during spring migration. Bobolinks migrate through this area each year, usually starting the last week of April continuing into the first couple of weeks of May. Then they disappear from the area until once again they appear in late April the following year to repeat the cycle. Male Bobolinks are one of my favorite birds that I see at the refuge each year. I enjoy looking at their unique plumage and listening to there seemingly incessant bubbly song. Migration patterns of Bobolinks are not yet fully understood. They have some of the longest migration paths of any passerine in the western hemisphere. Some go as far north as Canada and then return to their wintering grounds in central and southern South American, covering a distance of as much as twelve thousand miles, often flying distances of up to 1100 miles in a single day. The odd thing is that in migration here you see almost exclusively male birds. The females migrate farther east of here. But after all these years of observing them in migration I finally saw a female and was fortunate enough to capture a photo of the bird. Some of the nicknames the birds have been called are "reed birds" or "ricebirds" for their consumption of large amounts of grain from rice fields and are considered pests by some farmers. During their stay at the refuge they feed in the vetch fields feeding on seed heads and on the ground for fallen seeds and insects. They are also quite fond of armyworm moths. During their stay here they draw crowds of spectators in awe of the seasonal spectacle. Thanks for looking.

Female Bobolink
 Female Bobolink

May 11:  Bird Census Results

Today was an unseasonably chilly, rainy day but as I have often experienced, the days that are not favorable for the bird counters are oftentimes the very best days for seeing a lot of bird activity. That was the case on the pad roads today. There were large numbers of swallows feeding on the pads on insects that had hatched, along with Yellow-headed Blackbirds, lots of Spotted Sandpipers and other shorebirds. We parked in the road on the crossover from Tern to Egret Pad and witnessed much feeding activity up close. The Bobolinks are still present in good numbers in the vetch fields along Wildlife Drive as well as many Dickcissels and Eastern Kingbirds. We found a Peregrine Falcon in the trees just south of Mineral Marsh and also had a flyby Cooper's Hawk. We found a flock of 7 Hudsonian Godwits and 2 Upland Sandpipers in a field near Brook's Farm, west of the refuge. One nice find was a Warbling Vireo singing in the rain near the first bridge on the road to Meadow Pond. The White-rumped Sandpipers and Stilt Sandpipers have arrived but can be difficult to find because of the high water. We shortened our day because of the rain but finished with 81 species. Today's photos, Stilt Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Cliff Swallow and Hudsonian Godwits. Thanks for looking.

Hudsonian Godwits

Stilt Sandpiper
  Hudsonian Godwits         Stilt Sandpiper        

White Rumped Sandpiper

Tree Swallow
  White Rumped Sandpiper      Tree Swallow 

May 04:  Bird Census Results

Today was a partly cloudy day in the 60's with a strong northerly breeze blowing. Following recent rains the lake has risen and there are now no exposed sandbars, resulting in fewer shorebirds. The shorebirds that are present are difficult to see because of the vegetation. The most exciting thing at the refuge now is the large numbers of Bobolinks present. They are in evidence in all of the vetch covered fields. They will probably be here a few more days. Ducks are still present but their numbers are rapidly decreasing. We had 6 Pileated Woodpeckers but only found 1 Red-headed Woodpecker. On the road to Goode we heard a Philadelphia Vireo singing. Near the Harris Creek photo blind we found a Willow Flycatcher and it was calling. We finally got looks at first of season Common Yellowthroats. We only saw one Eastern Bluebird. We saw a flock of 21 Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Dickcissels are abundant as usual this time of year. We saw a total of 8 Clay-colored Sparrows making this an unusually good year for that species. Lark Sparrows were abundant with a count of 17. There was a pair of Green Herons at a small pond on Short Road. Black Terns are now at the refuge. We finished the day with 99 species. Photo is of one of the many male Bobolinks now present at the refuge. Best viewed full screen. Thanks for looking.


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6465 Refuge Road

Sherman, TX 75092

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