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 27: Bird Census Results
The summer heat has arrived and it began to heat up rapidly. Most of the roads are still flooded and Wildlife Drive is closed as well as Bennett west of the Big Mineral Picnic Area. Starting out we checked the owl nesting box in the maintenance shed and the 3 young Barn Owls are still in the box but look like they are just about ready to fledge anytime. We then proceeded to the area overlooking Wildlife Drive and saw our first Tricolored Heron of the year. We also observed a large flock of terns sitting on the gravel road in the vicinity of the the first bridge on Wildlife Drive. They were at quite a distance but we put the spotting scope on them and counted 24 Forster's Terns, 19 Least Terns and a couple of Caspian Terns. We only get Caspian Terns a couple of times a year most years so that was a good find. When we were there we also saw 3 Spotted Sandpipers, a Pectoral Sandpiper and a couple of Killdeer. We saw a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker at Dead Woman Pond and did not see a Red-bellied Woodpecker today which is quite unusual. We also only saw one hawk, a Red-tailed Hawk. We saw quite a few mature male Painted Buntings and they will be around for about three more weeks. The American Lotus are spectacular at Meadow Pond. We saw a Bobcat on Bennett hunting rodents. We finished the day with 58 species. which is not bad, with much of the refuge closed and with the heat. The first two photos are the Barn Owls in the nest box and the other is the Bobcat we saw.
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 ResultsThe 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.
July 06: Bird Census ResultsWe 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.
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Special thanks to Nancy Miller for the amazing photo of the Visitor Center