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!
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Sept 27: Bird Census ResultsToday was a gorgeous day for the census. It started out in the lower sixties and was calm and clear. We are at the height of the fall migration for many waterbirds. We saw approximately 4800 American White Pelicans today and they will continue to come thru the refuge most of October. They were feeding in Steedman and Muleshoe marshes and many were just resting on sandbars. When we arrived at the first marsh on the right going down Wildlife Drive we found 12 Soras feeding near the dike. We also found Pied-billed Grebes there. Great Egrets were numerous in Steedman Marsh and were a sight to behold in the early morning light. We counted 338. They were accompanied by Snowy Egrets, many Great Blue Herons, White-faced Ibises, and a Tricolored Heron along with many shorebirds including a Marbled Godwit. We counted 167 White-faced Ibis today but there was an astounding number of over 700 yesterday. Late in the day yesterday we also saw 15 Black-crowned Night-Herons. Stilt Sandpipers were numerous as well as Least Sandpipers. We also saw Black-bellied Plovers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, American Avocets and Semi-palmated Sandpipers. There is a good number of Wood Ducks present in the marshes. We saw a Belted Kingfisher at Deaver Pond and a late season Green Heron at Meadow Pond. Past Meadow Pond as we drove down to the creek we found 5 Wild Turkeys. We got the first Northern Flickers of the season and American Coots are starting to arrive. We finished the day with 56 species. Passerines were hard to find. We did get 5 first of season Savannah Sparrows. Today's photos, a photo of a very small fraction of the American White Pelicans we saw today showing you how tightly they bunch together when they are fishing, the Marbled Godwit, and one of the Soras.
American White Pelicans Marbled Godwit Soras
Sept 20: Bird Census Results
Our first stop was by the maintenance buildings on our way to Raasch trail. We saw 4 Inca Doves by the equipment shed as well as several Eastern Bluebirds. On Raasch trail we found a large number of both Black and Turkey vultures awaiting the thermals. Then we went to Harris Creek Trail and found a Red-headed Woodpecker and some Chickadees, Indigo Buntings, a Hairy Woodpecker and some Downy Woodpeckers. Continuing on toward the Goode area we saw a couple of Tricolored Herons out from the north low water crossing as well as many Least Sandpipers and Killdeer. The Goode area was pretty quiet, but we did see 6 Wild Turkeys there. When we ventured down Wildlife Drive and went down Plover Pad we were greeted by a large flock of Forster's Terns, more than 100 White-faced Ibis and many Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and a few species of shorebirds including Long-billed Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs and many Neotropic Cormorants. On Egret Pad across from where the observation platform used to be we saw a Virginia Rail standing in the open but it quickly retreated into the reeds. But we continued to watch and it ventured out into the edge of the reeds and allowed us a few fleeting looks. There was a Roseate Spoonbill in the back of Deaver along with some Wood Ducks. At Meadow Pond we found a Green Heron. We did an abbreviated census today due to the heat and tallied 57 species. Today's photo, a Wild Turkey. Thanks for looking.
Sept 13: Bird Census ResultsActivity has picked up a bit since last week. We were able to find 11 species of shorebirds including a Sanderling, 2 American Avocets, 2 Semipalmated Plovers, 1 Black-bellied Plover, 7 Pectoral Sandpipers and other shorebird species. More ducks are arriving and we saw 51 Blue-winged Teal,3 Northern Shovelers, 3 American Wigeons, and 10 Mallards. At Deaver Pond we saw 2 Belted Kingfishers, a Red-Headed Woodpecker and a Clay-colored Sparrow, a species we don't often see here in late summer. We saw a Green Heron at Meadow Pond. They will probably be leaving soon. We saw a total of 62 White-faced Ibis. We found 4 Loggerhead Shrikes out on the west side of the refuge near Short Road. We finished the day with 62 species. Today's photo, a Green Heron. Thanks for looking.
Sept 06: Bird Census ResultsWe started the census today by taking a short walk down the Harris Creek trail near the photo blind. Just as we arrived there we heard a Great Horned Owl hooting. There we also saw a couple of Red-Headed Woodpeckers and heard a Pileated Woodpecker. As we ventured down Wildlife Drive we saw Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets the first of many seen today. At the end of Plover Pad we found 155 Forster's Terns but only one Least Tern. The only Roseate Spoonbill we saw today was in the back of Deaver Pond. There we saw Wood Ducks, a Red-shouldered Hawk and a couple more Red-headed Woodpeckers. Green Herons were still present at Meadow Pond. We found numerous Yellow Warblers and 1 male Wilson's Warbler in the Button Bushes along the pad roads. The first birds of the day were 4 Baltimore Orioles in a tree by the Friends building. White-eyed Vireos were still calling. Shorebirds were scarce but we did see a small flock of 7 Stilt Sandpipers. We got a brief glimpse of Wild Turkeys on the far west side of the refuge. We finished the day with 56 species, a low count but that sometimes occurs this time of the year. Today's photos, some of the stars from the past week, 2 Wood Storks, a Red-necked Phalarope and a Roseate Spoonbill. Thanks for looking.
Wood Stocks Red-necked Phalarope Roseate Spoonbill
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