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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May 31: Bird Census Results
We have now settled into the mostly breeding birds only time of year at the refuge with very few migrants remaining. It appears to be a very good year for Wood Ducks as we have been seeing quite a few adult birds and today we saw a female with a dozen ducklings at Dead Woman Pond. Canada Geese are plentiful now at the refuge and there are a lot of goslings. There is a pair of nesting Prothonotary Warblers at Dead Woman Pond. There we also saw a Tree Swallow which is probably one of a nesting pair. On the far west side of the refuge we found a Black-and-white Warbler and a Northern Parula at another location. We saw 13 Eastern Bluebirds, some of which were fledglings. There are no mudflats but we did see a pair of Black-necked Stilts in Mineral Marsh and a Lesser Yellowlegs in Steedman Marsh. There were 3 Least Terns off the end of Plover Pad. Cattle Egrets were abundant today. We finished the day with 60 species. Today's photos include a common sight at the refuge currently, Canada Geese and their goslings. Also a Tree Swallow. Thanks for looking.
May 24: Bird Census Results
The day started off cloudy with a light mist and visibility deteriorated as the day progressed and the rain increased. But it was a good day with a lot of bird activity. There were quite a few shorebird species and they continue to be a challenge to locate because of high water backed up into the vegetation. The Ruddy Turnstones have been here now for about a week. We had close up looks at one in breeding plumage on the end of Plover Pad. There is a good number of White-rumped Sandpipers present and we saw them in the area north of the north low water crossing and in the other marshes along Wildlife Drive. 4 Black-necked Stilts are still present as well as 7 Dunlins. We wound up with 10 shorebird species. Black Terns have arrived and were flying over the marshes feeding on insects. Black Terns come thru this time of year and are only present for a short period of time We only saw 1 Least Tern. We heard Barred Owls hooting in a couple of places. We watched as a Bald Eagle swooped down and caught a fish and headed back toward the nest site. We saw Canada Geese in many places around the refuge and most of them had young goslings trailing along after them. We saw 1 Wild Turkey. We had a flyby Pileated Woodpecker on Oil Field Road. We saw a late season Swainson's Thrush on F Pad catching insects in the Button Bushes. Cliff Swallows were flying around almost everywhere we went. Of note were 40 Wood Ducks most of which were in the back side of Mineral Marsh. There were two Inca Doves near headquarters. We finished the day with 73 species. Photos, Ruddy Turnstone, immature Little Blue Heron and Black Terns. Thanks for looking.
May 17: Bird Census ResultsSpring migration is coming to an end but we still had a good day. One of the Glossy Ibises is still present. It was in Silliman Marsh which seems to be its favorite place to feed. Water levels are still high with few mudflats showing, continuing to make it hard to locate shorebirds. We saw a couple of Hudsonian Godwits, 39 White-rumped Sandpipers, 6 Stilt Sandpipers, 4 Wilson's Phalaropes, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers and a few other shorebirds in Silliman Marsh. It was a good day for Olive-sided Flycatchers with a total of 3. We only saw 4 warbler species today, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler and Northern Parulas. We had a fly over Crested Caracara on the way back from Sandy Point. We had a good bunting day with 19 Painted Buntings, 20 Indigo Buntings, 40 Dickcissels and 2 Blue Grosbeaks. It was a good egret and heron day with 9 Little Blue Herons, 33 Great Egrets and 57 Snowy Egrets. As a side note yesterday was one of the best warbler days at the refuge in recent years with 11 species which is very good for Hagerman. Most of the warblers were on Harris Creek Trail. The storm the night before must have caused a mini fallout. We finished the day with 87 species. Today's photos, Glossy Ibis, Black-necked Stilt and Blue-winged Teal ducklings. Thanks for looking.
May 10: Bird Census Results
Here we are, not even having reached mid May and it seemed like summer time. The day started off fairly calm but the winds increased as the morning progressed. We started the day by driving down behind the maintenance buildings to Raasch Trail. There we found a couple of Bobolinks in the nearby field. Bobolink numbers are nothing like they were last year. We are not sure why that is. Possibly all the high winds we have been having lately caused them to pass us by. We found some nice birds in the area including Common Yellowthroats, Painted Buntings, an Orchard Oriole, Lincoln Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds and an Alder/Willow Flycatcher. This is a pair of small flycatchers that can only be reliably identified by their call which you don't often hear in migration. We then walked a portion of Harris Creek Trail hoping to find some warblers there but we were not successful. We did see a Red-headed Woodpecker and several Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Painted and Indigo Buntings. We then proceeded to the Goode Area and Dead Woman Pond. There we found a Yellow-breasted Chat and Blue Grosbeak. Then we went on to Wildlife Drive. Finding shorebirds there is difficult because the lake is still high and there are still almost no sandbars. There was not much activity at Meadow Pond but we did see a Swainson's Thrush on our return. Of note were a few female Yellow-headed Blackbirds on Tern Pad. The male Yellow-headed Blackbird is another species that did not come thru in large numbers this year. We finished the day with 81 species. Today's photo, a female Yellow-headed Blackbird. The females usually come thru after most of the males have left. Thanks for looking.
May 03: Bird Census Results
The first week of May is historically the best week of the year for the years highest census species count and today did not disappoint. It was a very chilly day for early May and was breezy starting out but the winds died down later on. Bobolinks a bird of special interest for many birders were a little slow arriving this year but were here in decent numbers today along Wildlife Drive and Silliman Road with a count of 55. The lake was up even more from the Big Mineral Creek inflow from recent rain so areas for shorebirds were hard to find but we wound up with 12 species. Wilson's Phalaropes have been here in good numbers for the last week. There were 6 Hudsonian Godwits. There are still a good number of Blue-winged Teals present but all the other duck species are low. There was a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron near the low water crossing on Bennett. We saw many buntings including our first of season Blue Grosbeaks and 28 Painted Buntings. Indigo Buntings were singing in many locations. Dickcissels are here in large numbers. We found a Broad-winged Hawk near Meadow Pond and another one on the way to Sandy. We saw 6 species of warblers which is good for the refuge. We only found 6 Yellow-headed Blackbirds and their numbers seem to be down this year. We ended up with a count of 23 Clay-colored Sparrows today and I don't think I remember a year when they were present in such numbers and so wide spread. We finished the day with 115 species, a tie for our all time day's record. Today's photos, Indigo Bunting, Broad-winged Hawk and Clay-colored Sparrow. Thanks for looking.
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