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!
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Feb 22: Bird Census Results
It was a windy cold day for our census today and a lot of the birds were in sheltered areas avoiding the chilling winds. There is still a good number of white geese with about 2500 present today. We had a good overnight rain and there were lots of wet areas and most of the sandbars were under water. At the end of Egret Pad we saw our first of season male Cinnamon Teal. There were a good number of gulls in a flock on a sandbar at the end of Tern Pad containing over 500 Ring-billed Gulls, some Herring Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. We saw a group of 12 American White Pelicans. Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads are still in Silliman Marsh as well as a good number of Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers and other ducks. We saw a mature Bald Eagle picking on an Armadillo carcass on the road on the west side of the refuge. This was not one of the nesting pair of Bald Eagles on the refuge. There were many American Coots, Gadwalls and Mallards at Meadow Pond. We also saw a pair of Pied-billed Grebes there. We saw a pair of Barn Owls in a nest box. Hopefully they will stick around and nest there. We will try not to disturb them. We saw a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers on the road to Meadow Pond. We finished the day with 71 species. Today's photos, a rare dark morph Ross's Goose, the Bald Eagle accompanied by an American Crow giving you a good idea of how large Bald Eagles are and a Northern Harrier. Thanks for looking and stay safe in the upcoming freezing weather.
Feb 15: Bird Census Results
Today was very windy and our bird census reflects that with a lower count than normal. We saw many sparrows on Raasch Trail but were unable to identify many of them due to birds being too far and poor lighting. On the way to Meadow Pond we found our first of the year Winter Wren near the second bridge. There were a good number of gulls off the end of Tern Pad including Ring-billed, Herring Gulls and a single Bonaparte's Gull. We saw a Bald Eagle in flight to the west of Sandy Point. Yellow-rumped Warblers were difficult to locate but we finally found several in the Junipers at Sandy Point along with some Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. There were only about 150 Snow and Ross's Geese present today. There were still 11 Common Goldeneyes in Silliman Marsh and a couple of pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers off the end of Tern Pad. There was a single Dunlin mixed in with 103 Long-billed Dowitchers near the pad where Lucy likes to sit. We saw 61 species today. Today's photo, Red-breasted Merganser.
Feb 08: Bird Census Results
The morning started out cool but warmed up nicely as the morning progressed. Sparrows were very active today and we saw large flocks at quite a few locations. On our way from Terry Lane to the Goode Area we saw a Crested Caracara chasing a Black Vulture. At the Goode Area we found a flock of American Goldfinches and lots of sparrows by the picnic tables. As we ventured down Wildlife Drive we were surprised to see a large flock of more that three thousand white geese fly in from the southeast and settle in on the lake. Some years most of the white geese would already be gone by this time. On the way to Meadow Pond we saw a lone Pine Siskin. They have really been scarce so far but maybe their numbers will increase later this spring. When we arrived at Sandy Point we found a lone Horned Grebe feeding out in the lake. It was submerged more than it was up. There were nearly a hundred Long-billed Dowitchers present today, and more than a couple of thousand Ring-billed Gulls. On our way back to headquarters we located a Merlin in the dead trees west of headquarters. We had been alerted that a Merlin was present in that area which helped us to locate it. We finished the day with 79 species. Photo, Merlin, taken on a previous census.
Feb 01: Bird Census Results
We did our bird census a day early this week and it was a very good day weatherwise for the last day of January. White geese numbers were down which is to be expected this late with an absence of food on the refuge. Duck numbers are also down but we saw a dozen Common Goldeneyes, mostly males and the Buffleheads that have been in Steedman Marsh for several weeks. The Cackling Goose is still present and is still hanging around with the white geese. We saw a Pileated Woodpecker on the road to Meadow Pond but could not locate a Red-headed Woodpecker. We saw a Hairy Woodpecker on Raasch Trail. We had first of year Cedar Waxwings on Terry Lane. There was a lone Rusty Blackbird in with a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds at Dead Woman Pond. There we also saw 4 male Wood Ducks fly in. There was a large number of meadowlarks and American Pipits in the field north of headquarters. We are beginning to see a good number of American Robins. We finished the day with 83 species. Today's photos, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing and Northern Pintail. Thanks for looking.
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