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**
Nov 30: Bird Census ResultsIt was a beautiful fall morning for today's census. We started our morning on Raasch Trail and found an abundance of birds including most of the winter sparrows. We then proceeded to the Goode Area and saw a flock of Tom Turkeys in a wheat field near the Hagerman Cemetery. On our way back from Goode we were very surprised to see a flock of 12 Rusty Blackbirds in a tree by one of the private residences. They were busy preening and allowed us all to get numerous photos. As we proceeded on to Wildlife Drive we encountered a large flock of white geese, blocking the road, including about 4000 Ross's Geese and 3500 Snow Geese. When we arrived at the end of Plover pad we found a Lesser Black-backed Gull in with a flock of Ring-billed Gulls, Forster's Terns and a Bonaparte's and Franklin's Gull. There was a mature Bald Eagle at Deaver Pond. We saw a good number of ducks at several locations and saw a couple of male Canvasbacks out on the lake. We finished the day with 74 species. The next few weeks should be excellent for ducks and geese. Today's photos, a male and a female Rusty Blackbird, a Lesser Black-backed Gull with a flock of Ring-billed Gulls and Forster's Terns and a group of Turkey vultures catching some early morning rays.
Male Rusty Blackbird Female Rusty Blackbird
Lesser Black-backed Gull Turkey Vultures w/Ring-billed Gulls & Forster's Terns
Nov 23: Bird Census Results
We started the day on Raasch Trail behind the maintenance buildings. There were lots of birds in that area, including Swamp Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Lincoln Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, American Goldfinches, a House Wren, a Belted Kingfisher and other birds. We then proceeded to the Goode Area where we saw a Wood Duck, some Wilson's Snipes, American Pipits, Golden and Ruby Crowned Kinglets, a Downy Woodpecker, lots of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, an Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warblers, many Blue Jays a Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk and other species. As we progressed on to Wildlife Drive we were greeted by about 3500 white geese, both Ross's Geese and Snow Geese, Off the end of Plover Pad we saw Ring-billed Gulls, Franklin's Gulls, Herring Gulls and a lone Bonaparte's Gull along with a large number of Forster's Terns and some American White Pelicans. We saw a nice flock of Harris's Sparrows on the road to Meadow Pond. There were large numbers of Gadwalls at Meadow Pond. We saw other species of ducks at other locations including a dozen Buffleheads off the end of Goose Point. We had a couple from England with us and they really enjoyed the day. We finished the day with 82 species. Today's photo is a Fox Sparrow, a beautiful sparrow that has a beautiful song. Thanks for looking. Hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving.
Nov 16: Bird Census Results
It was warm and very windy for our census and as a result a lot of the song birds were staying low in the vegetation making them difficult to find. White geese numbers are increasing and we saw about 1000 Ross's Geese and 750 Snow Geese. Many more geese should soon arrive and there is plenty for them to eat. There were a good number of gulls off the end of Plover Pad including 700 Franklin's Gulls, 10 Ring-billed Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls and 1 Bonaparte's Gull as well as some Forster's Terns. There we also saw a nice flock of American White Pelicans. American Kestrels were numerous with a count of 12 for the day. We saw 9 species of winter sparrows including some early arriving Harris's Sparrows and a couple of Fox Sparrows. We saw a nice male Eastern Towhee at the Big Mineral picnic area. We saw a total of 64 Killdeer and 53 Least Sandpipers as well as a late season Stilt Sandpiper. We finished the day with 67 species. Photo, is Harris's Sparrow, one of my favorite sparrows.
Nov 9: Bird Census ResultsToday was a bit breezy and partly cloudy,. We started the day on Raasch Trail and ran into some activity just past the bridge. There we saw a couple of American Goldfinches and a couple of House Finches. There we also saw several species of sparrows including White-throated, White-crowned and Song Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow. We continued on to Goode, but there was not much activity there, just a flock of Gadwalls , a few Mallards, some Double-crested Cormorants and a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. As we headed toward Wildlife Drive, just north of the low-water crossing we found a flock of 31 Least Sandpipers, 14 Killdeer and a Greater Yellowlegs. As we proceeded down Wildlife Drive we saw a few small rafts of ducks near Goose Point, containing Northern Pintails, Lesser Scaups, Redheads and a lone Canvasback. We saw a good number of Red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels and Northern Harriers spread out over different areas of the refuge. Lucy, the female Bald Eagle was sitting on her favorite pole. White geese numbers were up a bit with about 400 Ross's and 100 or so Snow Geese. We are expecting to see large flocks of white geese soon. We finished the day with 67 species. Today's photos, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Northern Harrier. Thanks for looking.
Nov 2: Bird Census ResultsMost of the morning we experienced intermittent rain and drizzle which let up going into early afternoon. Birds were on the move today and a lot of migrant sparrows have arrived. There are at least 300 white geese, a third of which are Snow Geese and two-thirds Ross's Geese. There was a nice flock of about 117 Greater White-fronted Geese. We ran into several mixed flocks of sparrows, the best of which was just past the long bridge on the road to Meadow Pond. We counted 44 White-throated Sparrows but there were probably many more that we missed in the thick undercover. Other sparrows we saw included Chipping, Field, Fox, White-crowned, Vesper, LeConte's, Savannah, Song, Lincoln's and Swamp. We saw 1 Spotted Towhee and 1 Eastern Towhee and Dark-eyed Juncos. We had a first of season American Goldfinch and Hermit Thrush. Near Deaver Pond we saw a Pileated Woodpecker and a Red-headed Woodpecker as well as a Belted Kingfisher. Lucy, the Bald Eagle was sitting on her favorite pole and we saw another Bald Eagle at Sandy Point. Ducks were numerous and we saw a group of 8 Ruddy Ducks at Sandy Point. There were 2 Black-bellied Plovers and 7 Dunlin near the end of Tern Pad. We counted 600 Franklin Gulls but there were probably many more flying over the lake. We had a good count of 6 Loggerhead Shrikes. Meadowlarks were numerous and we saw 4 Brewer's Blackbirds. We finished the day with a very satisfying count of 87 species. Today's photo is part of a flock of American White Pelicans on a sandbar off the end of F Pad. Conditions were not good for photography today. Thanks for looking. American White Pelicans
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