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!
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Jan 25: Bird Census ResultsIt was a chilly day, but a good day for the bird census. Birds were active and we saw a lot of birds on Raasch Trail. Sparrows were plentiful there. Later, as we ventured down Wildlife Drive we found a small flock of white geese at the entrance to Plover Pad and they were still there at the end of the census. In Muleshoe Marsh we came upon a good find, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. They were very busy diving. They would pop up and almost immediately dive again. It would have been easy to miss them. Hundreds of gulls were sitting on the sandbars near Tern Pad. Among the gulls we found 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls 10 Herring Gulls mixed in with the Ring-billed Gulls. Lucy was present early on, sitting on her favorite perch. There was a large number of Long-billed Dowitchers in Steedman Marsh and we counted 83. We found a Greater Roadrunner on Short Road, a bird that can be difficult to find in the winter. We saw a good number of Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks and Northern Harriers. We finished the day with 79 species. Today's photos, Great Blue Heron finishing off its catch, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Thanks for looking.
Jan 18: Bird Census ResultsThere was a strong southerly wind blowing today but the birds were very active. We started our day on Raasch Trail and were greeted by many sparrow species, including Lincoln's, Fox, Harris's, Swamp, Song, and White-throated Sparrows. On our way to the Goode area we saw a mixed flock of 10 White-crowned Sparrows, Brewer's Blackbirds and American Goldfinches. At Dead Woman Pond we found 7 Wilson's Snipe. We found several nice mixed flocks of birds including, Ruby-crowned and Golden Crowned Kinglets, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-breasted Nuthatches. There are still about 4000 white geese but they are spread out in the fields along Wildlife Drive. There was a good number of duck species also spread out over the refuge with a large number of Gadwalls at Meadow Pond. On the road to Meadow Pond we saw a Hermit Thrush and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk flying over Mineral Marsh. There was a nice flock of Common Goldeneyes and a flock of Buffleheads in Steedman Marsh. We saw a total of 5 Loggerhead Shrikes. There was a good number of Red-tailed Hawks and Red-shouldered Hawks present. We finished the day with 73 species. Today's photo is of Lucy, the resident female Bald Eagle that was struggling to stay on the pole in the strong south wind.
Lucy, Female Bald Eagle
Jan 11: Bird Census Results
Today was a, you couldn't ask for much better, January day. There was a lot of bird activity on the refuge today. Sparrows were active on Raasch Trail but they were popping up and down so fast that many of them were difficult to identify. Large numbers of white geese were still present with more than 5000 estimated today. Near the entrance to Meadow Pond trail we saw a couple of Hermit Thrushes and a couple of White-breasted Nuthatches but were unable to locate the American Woodcock that has been seen in that area. On the way back from Meadow Ponds we saw some soaring vultures and raptors. One of the raptors turned out to be a Rough-legged Hawk. Duck numbers on the refuge are increasing and are to be found in many locations. We saw 6 male and 1 female Common Goldeneye in Steedman Marsh along with 19 Buffleheads. There was a Lesser Black-backed Gull in a large flock of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls on a sandbar off the end of Plover. We saw a Pileated Woodpecker on the crossover from C pad to Sandy Point Rd. past the large culverts. The most exciting sighting of the day was a feeding flock of more that 3000 Double-crested Cormorants off the end of Sandy Point. This is the largest flock of cormorants that I have ever seen at the refuge. We finished the day with 74 species. Today's photos, Northern Harrier, White-breasted Nuthatch and an American Kestrel. Thanks for looking. Enjoy your week.
Jan 04: Bird Census Results
White geese(Snow and Ross's) numbers are still good with at least 4000 present today. The Cackling Goose is still present and was seen in front of a large group of white geese on the lake by Wildlife Drive. Duck numbers are still relatively low with small groups spread out in the marshy areas around the refuge. There are 8 Buffleheads that have been hanging out in Steedman Marsh. We also saw a lone Ruddy Duck in Mineral Marsh. We found a group of 5 Wilson's Snipes near the road at the end of Egret Pad. There are good numbers of Ring-billed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls mixed in. We found a couple of Dunlin sitting with the gulls off the end of Tern Pad. There is also a good number of Bonaparte's Gulls, a smaller gull with a black beauty mark on the head in winter plumage. The lone Red-headed Woodpecker we saw was just before the low water crossing on Bennett Lane. We found a lone Western Sandpiper mixed in with a flock of Least Sandpipers near the Harris Creek bridge. There was a large flock of American Pipits at the end of Egret Pad. There were five American White Pelicans in the cove to the west of Sandy Point. We also saw a mixed feeding flock of Golden-crowned, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets as well as Yellow-rumped Warblers in the cedars close to the end of Sandy Point road. We finished the day with 67 species. Today's Photos, Wilson's Snipes, Red-headed Woodpecker and Ruddy Duck. Thanks for looking.
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