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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Mar 29: Bird Census Results
It turned out to be a very windy day for the census. More spring migrants are arriving every day. We saw or heard 11 White-eyed Vireos and 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. We had FOS(first of season) Vesper Sparrows, Snowy Egrets, Black-and-white Warbler and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Shorebird numbers were good with 27 American Golden Plovers, 4 Baird’s Sandpipers, 71 Least Sandpipers, 39 Pectoral Sandpipers, 84 Long-billed Dowitchers, 13 Greater Yellowlegs and 8 Lesser Yellowlegs. We saw 3 Wild Turkeys. There were still 4 Ross’s Geese and 1 Snow Goose hanging around. On Haller Haven Trail we found a flock of 22 Cedar Waxwings, a species that has been very scarce so far this year. We finished the day with 82 species. Today’s photos, a couple of hen Wild Turkeys on Raasch Trail and an American White Pelican displaying the bump on the top of the large bill. This conspicuous growth which evidently indicate’s the bird’s interest in breeding is on both males and females is shed at the end of the breeding season. The growth is called a nuptial tubercle. Thanks for looking.
Mar 22: Bird Census Results
Spring is here but you would never guess it today. It was very chilly and cloudy with a stiff northerly breeze. It appears that most of the white geese have finally headed north. We only saw a couple of small flocks today. There was a large flock of Pectoral Sandpipers on the mudflat by the north low water crossing as well as Long-billed Dowitchers, American Golden-Plovers and Yellowlegs. There was very little activity at the Goode picnic area. We saw several small flocks of American White Pelicans near the pads. We saw a total of 7 Wood Ducks, some at Meadow Pond and some at the low water crossing on Bennett Lane. We saw both resident Bald Eagles today and Ricky was seen flying toward their nest with a bunch of dry grass in his talons. During the nesting season Bald Eagles are constantly adding material to their nests. That is why a nest continues to grow in size and if nothing happens to the nest tree can become very large in size after years of use. We saw two pairs of Greater Roadrunners and another lone bird today. Ring-billed Gull numbers are decreasing and we just saw one Herring Gull today. There was a Belted Kingfisher at Meadow Pond. We saw 11 Eastern Phoebes today which is hopeful since their numbers seemed to be down after last year's severe cold. We did not see a single Eastern Bluebird today. We saw one Pine Warbler on the way to Meadow Pond but it quickly disappeared. We located 25 Brewer's Blackbirds near Basin Springs on the far west side of the Refuge. We saw a total of 22 Yellow-rumped Warblers today which is a big increase over what we have been seeing. We saw Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows and Cliff Swallows. We finished the day with 83 species. Photos, Tree Swallow and Pine Warbler. Thanks for looking.
Mar 15: Bird Census Results
The day started out cool with a good breeze after a one half inch rainfall overnight. As we crossed the north low water crossing we saw a large flock of Long-billed Dowitchers feeding in the shallow water on the left. We then saw a mixed flock of Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos and sparrows feeding at a feeder at the first residence. The Goode area was quiet with few birds. When we came back and proceeded down Wildlife Drive we saw a flock of white geese in the lake and a flock of cormorants feeding out in the lake. It was a good day for ducks and there were many in Silliman Marsh including 13 Buffleheads, a few American Wigeons and many Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teals. There were also a lot of Greater Yellowlegs and some Lesser Yellowlegs. We saw many Killdeer on the mudflats at the end of Tern Pad. Lucy was sitting on the pole at the end of Egret Pad. We saw a large flock of White-throated Sparrows near the Big Mineral Picnic Area as well as an Orange-crowned Warbler feeding in some Mistletoe. The most exciting moments of the day occurred as were returning to the refuge headquarters. We were on the end of Tern Pad and a flock of more than three thousand white geese all of a sudden took flight very excitedly. We figured some kind of raptor had startled them and our suspicions were soon confirmed when we discovered a pair of Bald Eagles, one mature and an immature chasing a Ross's Goose. We were at least one third of a mile away but we were able to watch them pursue the goose relentlessly for a long time. They even went as far as the far southeast corner of the refuge then proceeded west over the stand of trees along Bennett Lane. At times they would appear to have caught up with the goose but somehow it would evade them. There were lots of ohs and ahs from our group as they would nearly capture the goose. We lost sight of the birds after they disappeared behind the trees so we don't know how the exciting chase ended. On our way back to headquarters we found a large raft of Redheads off the end of Goose Point. We finished the day with 76 species. My apologies for no report last week but my internet was misbehaving. Thanks for looking. Have a good week. Photos, white geese including Snow and Ross's Geese after being startled by the eagles and a distant highly cropped image of the pursuit.
Snow & Ross Geese
Eagle pursuit of Ross's Goose
Mar 08: Bird Census Results
Mar 01: Bird Census Results
It was a lovely day for the census and there was plenty of bird activity. Surprisingly there are still several thousand white geese at the refuge and the Cackling Goose is still hanging around with them. Duck numbers are down but we saw 35 Buffleheads, a very high number for that species, in Steedman Marsh and there was also a male Common Goldeneye there. There is still a large number of Long-billed Dowitchers but we could only find one Wilson's Snipe. It was a good day for Red-shouldered Hawks with a high count of 12. We also saw 12 Red-tailed Hawks. We also saw 9 American Kestrels. On Terry Lane we saw Brewer's Blackbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Chipping Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and lots of American Robins. We finished a most enjoyable day with 76 species. Photo, American Robin.
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