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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**

Dec 28: Bird Census Results

The day started out calm and warm with steadily increasing winds as the morning progressed. We wound up with a fair number of passerine species but low numbers of many of the species. Of note we did not see a Dark-eyed Junco today which is most unusual for this time of year. There are still several thousand white geese but the food supply has just about disappeared. Duck numbers continue low. There were very few shorebirds but we did see 1 Wilson's Snipe, 4 Least Sandpipers, 9 Greater Yellowlegs and 4 Killdeer. There was a large number of Ring-billed Gulls resting on the sandbars, near the end of our count and several Herring Gulls. We also saw one Bonaparte's Gull. We saw one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, another hard to find bird this season. We finished the day with 72 species. Possibly bird numbers will increase after the next cold front. Happy New Year to all. Today's photos, a male American Kestrel, North America's smallest falcon and a female Northern Pintail.



Male American Kestrel

Male American Kestrel

Northern Pintail
  Male American Kestrel    Male American Kestrel          Northern Pintail              
    


Dec 21: Bird Census Results

The morning started out cold and very foggy but conditions improved rapidly and it was a very nice day for the census. As we started out there were thousands of white geese just north of headquarters. We also found the Cackling Goose in the group. We proceeded on to the Goode Area and Dead Woman Pond. We found 8 Wilson's Snipe at Dead Woman. We found numerous birds at the Goode Picnic area including American Goldfinches, Harris and White-throated Sparrows, a Brown Creeper and other species. We saw a large flock of blackbirds just after we turned onto Keefer Rd, including 250 Brewer's Blackbirds and 50 Brown-headed Cowbirds. When we proceeded down Wildlife Drive we found our first of the year Marsh Wren which was a difficult bird to locate this year. We saw a Crested Caracara feeding on a fish near Mineral Marsh. There we also saw an immature Bald Eagle flying high over Steedman Marsh. We later saw a mature Bald Eagle. We found a Spotted Towhee on Oilfield Road. We also saw a Greater Roadrunner on Short Road, a species we were not able to find on the Christmas Bird Count, Saturday. We finished the day with 81 species. Today's photo, Crested Caracara a species we don't see more than several times a year. Thanks for looking and hope that you have a Merry Christmas.


 Crested Caracara


Dec 14: Bird Census Results

The day started out foggy but cleared up some when the wind picked up. The big story of the day was the large number of white geese, approximately 7000. The wheat is disappearing fast and the dry weather has not helped matters. There were a lot of gulls flying around and a good-sized group were sitting off of Plover pad including Ring-billed, Bonaparte’s and Herring Gulls. We saw a total of 3 mature Bald Eagles. Cormorants were present in large numbers. We saw both Spotted and Eastern Towhees. There was a Merlin on Raasch trail. Shorebirds seen included Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipes, Killdeer and a lone Dunlin. We finished the day with 77 species.



Dec 07: Bird Census Results

It was a chilly morning following the cold front that blew in yesterday. We started the census on Raasch Trail and the area before the bridge was quite productive. Sparrows were popping up and down everywhere. Species seen there included Fox, Swamp, Lincoln's, White-Crowned, Song, White-thorated Sparrows along with lots of Northern Cardinals and Dark-eyed Juncos. We then proceeded to the Goode Area and walked the field to the left after you enter the gate, in search of LeConte's Sparrows. We had no success there and if you venture into this field be very careful because the Feral Hogs have done a number on it and there are lots of mounds and holes. We found Brown Creepers Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Brown Thrasher at the Goode area. As we proceeded down Wildlife Drive we encountered a large flock of approximately 7000 Snow and Ross's Geese grazing in the fields to the left. There were many Double-crested Cormorants today and a few Neotropic Cormorants. On Plover Pad we found Lucy the Bald Eagle trying to catch something near the crossover. She gave up and went and sat on her favorite pole. We saw her mate sitting in a large Sycamore tree while we were traveling down the road to Meadow Pond. It is a good year for Fox Sparrows and we saw a total of 14 today. We also saw 3 Eastern Towhees. There was a nice mixed flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned and Golden Crowned Kinglets as well as an Orange-Crowned Warbler at the Sandy Point rest area. We finished the day with 80 species. Photo is a pair of Northern Pintail ducks. Thanks for looking.


 Northern Pintailed Ducks



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