NOTICE: Weather permitting, the entire refuge will be CLOSED on Thursday, March 30, 2023, for an aerial feral hog control operation.
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!
**Turn Phone sideways prior to image enlargment! Point to bird images for full screen view**
Aug 30: Bird Census ResultsAfter an overnight rain, it was cloudy and humid for our bird census. We started the day by doing the short loop on Harris Creek Trail. There we found 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers, a flyby Green Heron, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 2 Downy Woodpeckers, a couple of Tufted Titmice and some Carolina Chickadees. We then proceeded to Plover Pad and found 22 Upland Sandpipers in a field on the way. We also wound up with a high number of 25 Buff-breasted Sandpipers. On a sandbar out from the two pump jacks on Plover we found a very large flock of terns, including a Caspian Tern, 2 Black Terns, 56 Least Terns, and 307 Forster's Terns. At the end of Tern Pad we found 7 Roseate Spoonbills and an eighth one at the end of Egret Pad. Egret and heron counts continue being good with totals of 260 Great Egrets, 144 Snowy Egrets, 28 Little Blue Herons, 16 Green Herons, 1 Tricolored Heron and 111 Cattle Egrets. We saw a flock of 24 White-faced Ibis flying near Taylor Marsh. There were a couple of Belted Kingfishers at Deaver Pond as well as an additional Red-headed Woodpecker. We saw 7 American Avocets as well as the continuing Marbled Godwit and other species of shorebirds. We saw a Greater Roadrunner much to the delight of our visitor from Australia. We finished the day with 69 species. Today's photo, Roseate Spoonbill. Thanks for looking.
Aug 23: Bird Census ResultsToday was very pleasant for our census, cloudy and cool. Shorebird numbers were down from the past week but we still managed to find 13 shorebird species. 2 Solitary Sandpipers were still present. We saw 2 Wilets, 16 Pectoral Sandpipers, 2 Upland Sandpipers, 1 Semi-palmated Plover 74 Least Sandpipers and several other species. There were still 35 Least Terns present. It has been an unusually good season for migrating Least Terns. There were 5 White Ibis in Taylor marsh. We found a Swainson's Hawk in the fields along Silliman Rd. We also saw a very distant Bald Eagle flying west of Sandy Point. The Red-headed Woodpeckers are still present on Harris Creek Trail. We finished the day with 61 species. Today's photo is a Solitary Sandpiper. Note the spotted back which differentiates it from the Spotted Sandpiper that has spots on the underside and subdued barring on the back. Thanks for looking.
Aug 16: Bird Census ResultsToday was hot and very dry. The only positive thing that I can see in that is that more and more mudflats are appearing and there was an abundance of shorebirds, terns, egrets and herons present. Early on we walked Harris Creek Trail and found 5 Red-headed Woodpeckers flying around. We also heard a late season Bell's Vireo singing there. As we ventured down Wildlife Drive we found a Willet near Goose Point. At the mudflats out from the oil jacks on Plover we saw many shorebirds including, Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Wilson's Phalaropes, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, 2 American Avocets. a Baird's Sandpiper, 15 Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, a Semipalmated Plover and a couple of Piping Plovers. We saw 8 Yellow Warblers in the Button Bushes along the pad roads. We saw a total of 22 Wood Ducks in the marshes along Wildlife Drive. Our egret and heron count was 351 Great Egrets, 229 Snowy Egrets, 11 Cattle Egrets, 50 Great Blue Herons, 50 Little Blue Herons, 1 Tricolored Heron, 1 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and 3 Green Herons. We happened upon a White-tailed doe with her fawn drinking water near the bridge over Big Mineral Creek. We finished the day with 69 species. Today's photos, White-tailed Deer, Yellow Warbler in Button Bush and Willet in flight displaying unique wing pattern.
White-tailed Deer Yellow Warbler Willet in flight
Aug 09: Bird Census Results
Today was calm and mostly cloudy as we started out on our census. We walked Harris Creek Trail to the first pond and found 3 Red-headed Woodpeckers. We then proceeded on to the pads along Wildlife Drive and found 10 Upland Sandpipers in the large field on the left across from the entrance to Plover Pad. That was the first of 17 shorebird species for the day. There is now more mud visible and it made for some excellent shorebird viewing. As we turned onto Plover we found a lone Willet on the dike along with Least Sandpipers, a Semi-palmated Sandpiper and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers. There were also 7 White-faced Ibis in Muleshoe Marsh. Farther down on Plover pad out from the pump jacks we saw 85 Forster's Terns and 28 American Avocets. We then proceeded to Egret Pad and saw 3 White-Ibis near the entrance to the pad. There is a very large number of Egrets and Herons present with counts of 366 Snowy Egrets, 265 Great Egrets, 46 Great Blue Herons, 42 Little Blue Herons, 52 Cattle Egrets, 6 Green Herons, and 1 Tricolored Heron. We also saw a mature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Meadow Pond. We found one Snowy Plover off the end of Tern Pad. Near the pad where Lucy is so fond of perching we saw 22 Stilt Sandpipers, 3 Short-billed Dowitchers and other shorebirds. There we also saw probably the best sighting of the day, a Roseate Spoonbill setting on a snag. At the end of Tern Pad we found 139 Least Terns a very large number for this species. The highest number of Least Terns we had recorded at the refuge in the last 33 years was in the sixties. We found 16 Wood Ducks most of which were in Mineral Marsh. 6 Blue-winged Teal flew in while we were at Mineral Marsh. We found a Swainson's Hawk in Taylor Marsh that had just caught a rodent. We finished the day with 72 species the same as last week. Most of the marshes have now been mowed and flooded which should make for some good birding in the coming weeks. Kudos to the refuge staff for that. Today's photos, Roseate Spoonbill accompanied by Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons, the Snowy Plover and a Little Blue Heron accompanied by a Green Heron. Thanks for looking.
Roseate Spoonbill with Snowy Plover Little Blue Heron with Great Egrets & Great Blue Herons a Green Heron
Aug 02: Bird Census Results
It was another hot summer day with a stiff dry southwest wind blowing. But there was some good news, that being, we now have some mudflats since the lake level has started to recede. There are now some good exposed areas off the end of Tern Pad. That said, we had a good shorebird day, with 15 species of shorebirds. Some of the highlights were 5 Western Sandpipers, 3 Wilson's Phalaropes, 5 Solitary Sandpipers(4 of which were at Dead Woman Pond), 10 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 10 Stilt Sandpipers, 11 Pectoral Sandpipers, an American Avocet, 14 Spotted Sandpipers and a Semipalmated Plover. We found 4 Tricolored Herons at Dead Woman Pond. We saw an early season Sharp-shinned Hawk on Raasch Trail. We had a high count of 72 Least Terns but there were no juveniles with them. There was also 36 Forster's Terns and two black Terns all off the end of Tern Pad. We counted 46 Mallards, probably all birds that were raised here this year. Once again a large number of Canada Geese, 182 in total. On another positive note they are going to cut the vegetation in the front part of Moist Soil Unit #7, the first large marsh on the right before you get to the entrance to Plover Pad. They are then going to flood it providing more much needed habitat for shorebirds. We finished the day with 70 species which is quite good for this time of year. Today's photo is a juvenile White Ibis. Thanks for looking.
juvenile White Ibis
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