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Birding with Jack

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**

Oct 26: Bird Census Results

Today was a cloudy cool fall day. Great weather for the bird census. Our first stop of the day was Raasch Trail, behind the maintenance buildings. We were fortunate to come upon a mixed flock of feeding birds just past the bridge. We saw numerous House Finches feeding on Ash seed pods. Also in this area we saw Downy Woodpeckers, a Pine Warbler, Orange-crowned Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and first of season Lincoln Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Song Sparrows White-crowned Sparrows and a Bewick's Wren. As we continued on to Wildlife Drive we encountered a small mixed flock of Snow and Ross's Geese. There was a good number of American White Pelicans at the ends of Plover and Tern Pads. We also saw a large assortment of Ducks, including a large number of Gadwalls along with Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, Mallard, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal in Mineral Marsh and other locations. When we were returning from Sandy point on the crossover to C pad, we found another mixed flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Golden-crowned Kinglets along with Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Orange-crowned Warblers and Tufted Titmice. We finished the day with 62 species. Today's photos, a Red-shouldered Hawk that had just finished off a meal near the Martin Branch bridge, an Eastern Phoebe showing the yellow undersides often seen on fall birds and a Crested Caracara that I saw briefly near Wildlife Drive last Saturday. Thanks for looking.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Eastern Phoebe

Crested Caracara
  Red Shouldered Hawk           Eastern Phoebe                  Crested Caracara             

Oct 19: Bird Census Results

The morning started out cool and it was very calm. We went down on Raasch Trail to begin the count and was greeted by a Pileated Woodpecker sitting on the top of a dead tree. Other than that it was pretty quiet there with a few vultures and blackbirds. We then proceeded to the pads and found the first two Snow Geese of the season along with 31 Greater White-fronted Geese grazing on the wheat that is doing quite well after the recent rains. The lake has risen some but there are still some sandbars but very few shorebird remain. Lucy was siting on her favorite perch at the end of the crossover pad. A good numbers of ducks have come in and most of them were in the back side of Mineral Marsh. We saw at least 60 American Wigeons, 83 Gadwalls, 36 Northern Shovelers, a Redhead, 3 Ring-necked Ducks and Mallard, Teal and Northern Pintails. There were almost no passerines on the road to Meadow Pond as was the case everywhere else we went on the refuge. We did see 7 American Kestrels and Western Meadowlarks are starting to arrive. We finished the day with 54 species. Today's photo, Lucy our resident female Bald Eagle. As I guess you have figured out by now, I never tire of taking photos of her. Best viewed full screen. Thanks for looking.

Female Bald Eagle (Lucy)  

Oct 12: Bird Census Results

We were greeted today by some much cooler fall weather as we ventured out on the census. As we proceeded down Wildlife drive we observed a large flock of American Coots that had just arrived numbering more than 300 birds all huddled closed together. We later saw another 150 or so near the pads. We were interested to see if the rare Red-necked Phalarope that arrived yesterday morning was still present so we went directly to Silliman Marsh and found the bird near the road to Tern Pad. This is a bird that frequents both coasts and we only see here on an average of 1 time every three years. Both of the Bald Eagles were present today and one was sitting on the double power pole near J pad. We saw some recently arrived Rubly-Crowned Kinglets just past Meadow Pond. We saw many migrating Turkey Vultures with a total count of 165 individuals for the day. We also saw a large kettle of migrating Swainson's Hawks containing more that a hundred individuals. Shorebirds numbers were good but had dropped off quite a bit from yesterday. American White Pelicans are still coming thru but in smaller numbers. We finished the day with 56 species. Today's photo is the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope. Thanks for looking.

Red-necked Phalarope

Oct 5: Bird Census Results

It was a beautiful fall day for our weekly census. Some of the fall migrants that will winter here are beginning to arrive. We saw 5 Northern Flickers and a first of season Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Noticeably absent today were the large number of egrets that we have been seeing as of late. Shorebirds numbers were decent for this late into migration While on Egret Pad we had a flyby Peregrine Falcon. One has been hanging around for a couple of weeks .We saw a first of season Franklin's Gull hanging out with the pelicans off the end of Plover Pad. We saw a distant Bald Eagle soaring off the end of Sandy Point. We saw no warblers today even though we walked the short loop on Harris Creek trail by the photo blind. Passerines were few and far between. The wheat that was recently sewn in the fields for the migrating geese has mostly germinated. Hopefully we will get a rain on it so that it does not die. We finished the day with 55 species. Today's photo is Long-billed Dowitchers a common migrant shorebird at the refuge. A key to identifying this species is its sewing machine motion of the bill while feeding. It is a medium sized bird(11 1/2 inches). Often makes a keek call while feeding. Watch for the large white upper rump seen in flight.

Long Billed Dowitcher

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