Master Naturalist Jack Chiles,
Master Naturalist 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**
Sept 28: Bird Census ResultsWe started the day by going down behind the maintenance buildings and proceeding on to Raasch Trail. There, just past the bridge we saw a couple of Cooper's Hawks and a Red-shouldered hawk along with a Hairy Woodpecker, a bird that can be difficult to locate on the refuge. Then we proceeded to Wildlife Drive and near the first pullout we saw a flock of shorebirds on the edge of the lake and just as we were about to try to identify them they took flight and we soon discovered why as a Peregrine Falcon zoomed by. Today was very good for shorebirds and we were surprised to see so many this late in the season. The conditions are really good for them at present with the lake elevation near 615.5 feet above sea level exposing a lot of mudflats. We wound up with 15 species of shorebirds. Some of the better sightings were, 5 Sanderlings, a Black-bellied Plover and an American Golden Plover, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a Wilson's Phalarope,113 Stilt Sandpipers, and 112 Least Sandpipers. We observed the Peregrine Falcon for a second time sitting in a tree near the dike on Mineral Marsh. Ducks are starting to arrive in larger numbers. We heard and had a flyby Pileated Woodpecker on Harris Creek trail by the photo blind. Passerines were once again very difficult to come by but as we made a second trip around the pads on Wildlife Drive we were fortunate to find a Palm Warbler. It was feeding near the ground under Button Bushes and was catching a lot of caterpillars. This is a rare species for the refuge. We finished the day with 68 species. Today's photo is the Palm Warbler. The plumages on this species are highly variable and this is a very dull individual. Thanks for looking.
Sept 21: Bird Census ResultsThe first day of fall was a great day for birding at the refuge. After the overnight arrival of a cool front there was a stiff northeasterly cool breeze blowing which was welcome after the heat yesterday. We started out by walking the Harris Creek Trail by the photo blind which was completely nonproductive. Then we proceeded down Wildlife Drive and found an Osprey sitting in the edge of the water on the peninsula to the right of Plover Pad. At the end of Plover Pad we were greeted by a large flock of American White Pelicans resting on a sandbar. We wound up with an estimated number of 2150 pelicans. Other species of ducks are arriving and we saw Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintails and Northern Shovelers along with the Blue-winged Teal that have been here for a while. There was a large number of White-faced Ibis in the marshes and we wound up with a count of 116. As we ventured down the road to Meadow Pond we saw our second Peregrine Falcon of the day perched in a dead tree in Deaver Pond. The bird had a full crop and had probably just caught its breakfast. The falcon was very tolerant of us as we photographed it. There are a large number of egrets spread out all over the refuge and we saw 2 Tricolored Herons. We finished the day with 54 species, a low number due to the absence of a lot of passerines and a much declined number of shorebirds. Today's photos, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey and American White Pelicans. Thanks for looking. Enjoy your week.
Sept 14: Bird Census ResultsIt was a pleasant late summer day for our bird census with a cooling breeze blowing. As we headed down Wildlife Drive near the first pullout we found a flock of shorebirds including about 20 Buff-breasted Sandpipers and a Ruddy Turnstone which looked much like the one we saw a couple of weeks ago. The mudflats that the shorebirds were feeding in, in the Harris Creek marsh have mostly dried up and now the largest concentration of shorebirds is in the area where Myer's Branch empties into the lake. That area was covered with shorebirds including many Least Sandpipers and a few Western, Semipalmated and Bairds Sandpipers along with many Stilt Sandpipers. We saw 15 species of shorebirds. As we proceeded down Wildlife Drive we had an American Bittern flying up the lake toward Goose Point that reversed direction and flew into the marsh farther down Wildlife Drive. We were able to observe it there along with White Ibis and White-faced Ibis. There were also many shorebirds on the sandbars off the end of Plover and Tern Pads. At Deaver Pond we saw 4 Red-headed Woodpeckers and watched a Belted Kingfisher catch a fish and perch in a tree and proceed to eat it. At the marsh near the low water crossing on Bennett Lane we saw a mature Black-crowned Night-Heron and White Ibis and a Green Heron. By the big culvert on the crossover from C pad to Sandy we saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher. We saw a couple of Loggerhead Shrikes and an American Kestrel on the west side of the refuge. We finished the day with 63 species. Today's photos, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Sept 07: Bird Census Results
It was not quite as hot today as it has been the last several weeks. It was a great day with 18 species of shorebirds and some species were present in large numbers. The reason for this is probably that there are almost no locations in North Central Texas that have shorebird habitat at this time. Water levels at the refuge in the marshes are controlled and this makes for a great location to see shorebirds. One of our first good finds as we turned onto Wildlife Drive by the first turnout was a Ruddy Turnstone and a flock of Buff-breasted Sandpipers. We had a high count of 42 Buff-breasted Sandpipers today. Many of the shorebirds were on the far side of Harris Creek Marsh making them difficult to identify. But there were plenty in the other marshes that were close enough to identify easily. The two American Avocets and the Short-billed Dowitchers are still hanging around. We saw a total of 87 Pectoral Sandpipers, 47 Least Sandpipers and a good number of Western and Simi-palmated Sandpipers. Egrets and herons were present in large numbers as well as many Blue-winged Teal. We also saw several Northern Shovelers and Wood Ducks. We had three species of Warblers, Yellow, Orange-crowned and Common Yellowthroat. Migrating Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are moving thru with a total of 20. We found 4 Loggerhead Shrikes in the area of Short Road. We saw 69 White-faced Ibis and 4 White Ibis. We finished the day with 68 species. Today's photos, Ruddy Turnstone accompanied by Least Sandpiper, American Avocet, Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and a Green Heron.
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