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Birding With Jack Archives

The Weekly Bird Census

January through April, 2023

Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick and Dr. Wayne Meyer

More About the Birds of Hagerman

Birding with Jack Archives

April, 2023

April 25, 2023: Complete Bird Census List of 98 species.

Summer Tanager

Grasshopper Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Immature White Ibis

Census Notes:

It was yet another chilly and cloudy day for our census and migrants are continuing to arrive but at a slow pace. Shorebird numbers are still good with an estimated 257 Long-billed Dowitchers present. We had a first of season Black-bellied Plover and 32 Semipalmated Plovers. Other shorebirds included 5 American Avocets,19 Upland Sandpipers, 3 Bairds' Sandpipers, 86 Least Sandpipers,69 Pectoral Sandpipers, 6 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 1 Western Sandpiper, 4 Wilson's Phalaropes, 11 Spotted Sandpipers, 35 Greater Yellowlegs, 28 Lesser Yellowlegs and 1 Killdeer. There was an immature Bald Eagle sitting on a snag off the end of Plover Pad and nearby were 22 American White Pelicans sitting on a sandbar. We saw 40 White-faced Ibis and 1 immature White Ibis near the north low water crossing. There was a Green Heron in the small pond by the photo blind on Harris Creek Trail. We saw our first of season Western Kingbird along with several Eastern Kingbirds.There was a singing Bell's Vireo on Enterprise Road, as well as a Warbling Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak and Yellow-breasted Chat. We saw quite a few Lincoln's Sparrows on Raasch Trail near the bridge. There was a singing Prothonotary Warbler at Meadow Pond as well as a singing Summer Tanager just past Meadow Pond. We finished the day with 98 species but next week should be even better. The Bobolinks should be arriving any day now. 

April 18, 2023: Bird Census List

It was a breezy but pleasant day for the census. More spring migrators are arriving every day. First of season birds today included Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Dickcissel, Prothonotary Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Green Heron, and Hudsonian Godwits. Lake level has dropped exposing a lot of mudflats and there are many shorebirds present. One could spend the better part of the day looking at shorebirds. Some of the more numerous shorebird species included 307 Long-billed Dowitchers, 86 Least Sandpipers, 46 Pectoral Sandpipers, 45 Greater Yellowlegs, 30 Lesser Yellowlegs and 109 Upland Sandpipers. Duck numbers are declining with 50 Blue-winged Teal, 53 Northern Shovelers, 6 Gadwalls, and 7 Mallards counted today. We finished the day with 83 species. Next week the count should go up quite a bit. Today's photos, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Lincoln's Sparrow, House Wren and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Thanks for looking.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Lincoln's Sparrow
House Wren

April 11, 2023: Bird Census List

It was a beautiful, almost dead calm day for our census. Early on we saw a Clay-colored Sparrow in the visitor center parking lot. There was a Brown Thrasher singing in the trees across the road from the Friends building. Lark Sparrows were also present near the visitor's center. As we progressed north from the visitor center there was a Solitary Sandpiper near the low water crossing. When we arrived at Dead Woman Pond we found a Tricolored Heron.There are lots of shorebirds present especially in the mudflats near the Harris Creek bridge. We had a total of 149 Long-billed Dowitchers, 75 Pectoral Sandpipers, a Semipalmated and Western Sandpiper a Spotted Sandpiper, 11 American Avocets, 10 American Golden-Plovers, 31 Least Sandpipers and other species of shorebirds. Many of the shorebirds were too distant to identify. We also found 38 Upland Sandpipers in the fields on the west side of the refuge. We saw a Cooper's Hawk catch a bird in a field west of the refuge. We had a total of 6 Fish Crows on the crossover between Tern and Plover pads. Northern Cardinals, White-eyed Vireos, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were plentiful today. Bird numbers should increase for the next 3 weeks. We finished the day with 93 species. Today's photos, American Avocets, Singing White-eyed Vireo and a Greater Roadrunner. Thanks for looking.

American Avocets

White-eyed Vireo

Greater Roadrunner

April 4, 2023: Bird Census List

It was a pleasant short-sleeve weather day for our census, although it was windy. The lake has risen some after recent rains and mudflats are limited but there is an area just past the Harris Creek bridge that was good today. There we found many Least Sandpipers, a few Semi-palmated Sandpipers, a Western Sandpiper, a Stilt Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitchers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer. As we ventured down Wildlife Drive we saw a lone Snow Goose on the shoreline, apparently with an injured wing. On our way to Meadow Pond we saw a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in the small marsh on the right of Deaver Pond. There were also a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers in that area. At Meadow Pond we found a singing Louisiana Waterthrush. There are still a lot of Blue-winged Teals as well as the continuing 4 Cinnamon Teal. There was an Eastern Towhee at the entrance to Meadow Pond trail. We had a singing Northern Parula on the far west side of the refuge. Upland Sandpipers have returned and we had close up looks at them in a field west of Short Road. We saw 2 Bald Eagles. today. A good number of American White Pelicans are present. There were three Tree Swallows at Deaver Pond and we saw Northern Rough-winged Swallows flying near Plover Pad. The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are arriving and we saw 7 today. We finished the day with 95 species and a lot of happy birders. Today's photos, an Upland Sandpiper and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Thanks for looking. Enjoy your week.


Yellow Crowned Night Heron
 UplandSandpiper                 Yellow Crowned Night Heron  

March, 2023 (Scroll Down)

Mar 28: Bird Census Results

It was a clear, chilly day, for our bird census with a stiff northerly breeze blowing. There is a good number of ducks still present with 13 species sighted today. At least one Cinnamon Teal is still hanging out in Taylor Marsh. It appears that the last of the white geese left a couple of days ago. We found one nice flock of American Wigeons on a pond near Short Road. There was a pair of Wood Ducks on Picnic Pond. We saw a total of 13 Pied-billed Grebes. There was an immature Bald Eagle flying around near the pads. We saw 9 species of shorebirds including 24 American Golden-Plovers, 61 Long-billed Dowitchers, 32 Pectoral Sandpipers, 39 Wilson's Snipe, 14 Greater Yellowlegs, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs and a Baird's Sandpiper. We saw a Pileated Woodpecker on the road to Sandy Point. There was a Northern Parula on the far west side of the refuge. For the second week in a row we saw a large flock of at least 200 Brewer's Blackbirds near the intersection of Bennett Lane and the east end of Short Road. Egret and heron numbers are increasing with at least 5 Little Blue Herons in Mineral Marsh. We saw 48 Snowy Egrets, 16 Great Egrets and 41 Cattle Egrets. We found a total of 96 Cedar Waxwings. There was a lone Vesper Sparrow just past the low water crossing at Deaver Pond. We finished the day with 90 species. Today's photos. one of five Yellow-headed Blackbirds seen today, a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers and an American Golden-Plover. Thanks for looking.

Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Long-Billed Dowitcher

American Golden-Plover
 Yellow-Headed Blackbird           Long-Billed Dowitcher           American Golden-Plover

Mar 21: Bird Census Results

It was a cloudy morning, with a light mist falling, for our bird census on the first full day of spring. There was a lot of bird activity, a noticeable increase over the past few weeks. There were a couple of dozen white geese still present including 16 Snow Geese and 8 Ross's Geese. Duck numbers are decreasing but there are still a lot of species present. We saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers in the marsh by the north low water crossing. We saw a total of 4 Cinnamon Teal, some in Mineral marsh and some in Taylor marsh. We saw Wild Turkeys in several locations with a total of 13 sighted for the day. We saw 107 Wilson's Snipe spread out over several areas. Pectoral Sandpipers are arriving with 23 for the day and 7 Western Sandpipers. There were a couple of flocks of gulls off the end of Tern Pad, including 153 Ring-billed Gulls, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 5 Franklins's Gulls. We saw the first 2 Great Egrets of the season and more should be arriving soon. We saw 3 White-eyed Vireos, the first of the season. We also saw 5 species of swallows. We found a Black-and-white Warbler on the road to Sandy. Near the juncture of Short Road and Bennett Lane close to where the new houses are being built a large mixed flock of blackbirds containing at least 200 Brewer's Blackbirds was seen. We finished the day with 90 species a very good count for this early in the spring. Today's photos, Black-and-white Warbler and large flock of blackbirds containing mostly Brewer's Blackbirds.(Best viewed full screen) Thanks for looking.

Black-and-White Warbler

Brewer's Blackbirds
 Black-and-White Warbler                 Brewer's Blackbirds     

Mar 14: Bird Census Results

Spring migrants should be arriving in good numbers soon. There are still a few white geese hanging around and a good number of ducks including 230 Blue-winged Teal, 208 Gadwall, 113 Northern Shovelers, 3 Cinnamon Teal, 2 Green-winged Teal, 18 Mallards, 2 Wood Ducks, 2 Northern Pintails, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 3, Lesser Scaup, 7 Buffleheads, and 119 Ruddy Ducks. Blackbird species are coming through in good numbers, 66 Common Grackles, 129 Brown-headed Cowbirds, 4 Brewer's Blackbirds, and 250 Red-winged Blackbirds were counted. 12 Pied-billed Grebes were seen. Shorebird Species seen were, 71 Killdeer, 87 Least Sandpipers, 18 Long-billed Dowitchers, 8 Wilson's Snipe and 16 Greater Yellowlegs. 78 species were counted today. Today's photo, a drake Northern Shoveler in breeding plumage.

    Northern Shoveler in breeding plumage.

Mar 07: Bird Census Results

Before we departed headquarters we heard a Wild Turkey gobbling in the woods to the east. Later we saw another one crossing the big field at the south end of Wildlife Drive. At Dead Woman Pond we had a couple of Wood Duck drakes fly by. Other than that there was not much activity there, just a few Gadwalls, Mallards, Canada Geese and Eastern Phoebes. The Eastern Phoebes seem to be making a bit of a comeback with a total of 11 seen today. The male Cinnamon Teal is still present in Taylor Marsh. There was a pair of Canvasbacks in Mineral Marsh along with Buffleheads, Lesser Scaups, and a drake Common Goldeneye. There are still good numbers of Northern Shovelers and Gadwalls, present as well as lesser numbers of Northern Pintails, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeons, and Mallards. We also saw a total of 71 Ruddy Ducks in Steedman Marsh. It appears that most of the white geese have left with only 18 Snow Geese and 8 Ross's Geese present today. We only saw 3 species of shorebirds, 42 Killdeer, 32 Least Sandpipers and17 Greater Yellowlegs. We only saw 2 Red-tailed Hawks today, one of which was the Krider's sub-species. Tufted Titmouse were singing at many locations with a total of 22. There was a Tree Swallow sitting on a snag at Deaver Pond. We saw a male Spotted Towhee on the way to the Goode area and a female Eastern Towhee just past Meadow Pond. We finished the day with 69 species. Today's photo, the pair of Canvasbacks we saw in Mineral Marsh. It was a gray morning, not very good for photos. Thanks for looking.


February, 2023 (Scroll Down)

Feb 28: Bird Census Results

The day was very pleasant temperature wise, and it was very calm early on. There was a controlled burn taking place today as a brush control measure. Some of the highlights of the day were a pair of Cinnamon Teal in Taylor Marsh and a mating pair of Belted Kingfishers at Meadow Pond. We observed some interesting Red-tailed Hawks, one an adult Harlan's hawk different from the overall dark one we have been seeing. This one had a mostly white tail. We also saw an adult partial albino one with a very striking pattern on the wings. A Canvasback is still present as well as numerous Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks. Lesser Scaup and 4 Common Goldeneyes, There is still a good number of Gadwalls and Northern Shovelers as well as lesser numbers of Northern Pintails. There are still hundreds of white geese present. We saw six Lesser Yellowlegs, the first of the season. We saw a couple of Greater Roadrunners on Short Road. We had a flyby Pileated Woodpecker at the Big Mineral picnic area. We saw a Rusty Blackbird near the new houses being constructed on Brook's Lane. We finished the day with 71 species.

Photos are the unusual Red-tailed Hawks that we saw today. The Harlan's was kiting(hovering in place) over one of the areas of Smartweed that was burning probably looking for a rodent trying to escape the blaze.

Red-Tailed Hawk

 Red-Tailed Hawk                       Harlan's     

Feb 21: Bird Census Results

The morning started out calm with winds increasing later in the day. It was a good day for Red-tailed Hawks with a total of 11 for the day. Both subspecies, Harlan's and Krider's were present in the area just past the Big Mineral picnic area. We saw a Belted Kingfisher at Meadow Pond and a large number of Gadwalls are still present there. We finished the day with 8 Red-bellied, 3 Pileated and 1 Downy Woodpeckers. We also saw 5 Northern Flickers. Lucy was on her favorite pole early in the day. There are still over 3000 white geese present. They are feeding off refuge and come in later in the day to rest and bathe. We saw a pair of Greater Roadrunners on the road to Sandy Point and a couple from Houston and myself saw 5 Sunday morning. So it appears to be a good time to see roadrunners. 3 Common Goldeneyes are still present as well as continuing Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, Lesser Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, Redheads and a couple of Canvasbacks as well as lots of the more common duck species. We saw a total of 24 Wilson's Snipes near the pool on the side of the road going down Wildlife Drive. The best birds of the day were a couple of Rusty Blackbirds on Brooke's Lane near Bennett Lane in the vicinity of all the new home construction. We finished the day with 74 species. My apologies for the late post but I had some technical issues with the post. Today's photo is a Wilson's Snipe. Thanks for looking.

   Wilson's Snipe

Feb 14: Bird Census Results

The morning started out with light rain, soon ending, following a night of heavy rain. Early on the birds were very active as the clouds started giving way to clearing skies. Later in the day the winds from the south became strong. After several recent rains the ground was saturated and water was standing in many places around the refuge. Recently the area around the butterfly garden near headquarters has been good for sparrows. There we saw a large number of Harris's Sparrows as well as Fox Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows. North of headquarters we saw many meadowlarks on the way to the Goode Area. At the Goode Area we saw a lot of Harris's Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows and American Goldfinches. On the way back from Goode we encountered large numbers of American Robins in the field near Hagerman Road. Gadwall numbers are still good with a count of 390 for the day, many of which were on Meadow Pond. The Common Goldeneyes are still present, as well as Buffleheads, Lesser Scaups, Rudy Ducks, Ring-necked ducks, American Wigeons, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teals and a Blue-winged Teal. Near the end of the census we saw several thousand white geese in the large field on the left going down Wildlife Drive. We finished the day with 72 species, It was good to be back after missing a couple of weeks due to medical reasons., Today's photo, American Kestrel. Thanks for looking.

      American Kestrel

Feb 07: Bird Census Results

Today was a good day for ducks, as the old adage says. Rain that was predicted to start after noon began in earnest at 7:59 AM. We avoided most of the locations where we might encounter mud and concentrated on packed gravel or paved roads as much as possible. Ducks remained the predominant birds, with Gadwalls topping the list with 236 individuals. Northern Pintails also had a significant representation with 147 individuals and we found 91 Northern Shovelers, mostly seen from the Auto Tour Route. Buffleheads, Lesser Scaup, and Common Goldeneye are also easily found in the same area, and Ruddy Ducks are common, with 52 individuals in Steedman Marsh. One of the observers heard an American Woodcock calling from the field at the eastern Bennett Road entrance. We saw two Belted Kingfishers – one at Deaver Pond and one at L Pad. Loggerhead Shrikes were found in fields on the east and on the west. There were 11 Northern Flickers topping the list of woodpeckers, and Dark-eyed Juncos were the most common of the eleven Sparrow species seen today. Today’s list included 79 species. Due to the weather, the photos are of a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Loggerhead Shrike taken this past weekend. Thank you for looking.

Black-backed Gull

Loggerhead Shrike
 Black-backed Gull             Loggerhead Shrike     

January, 2023 (Scroll Down)

Jan 24: Bird Census Results

It was a very dreary morning for our census, with continuous rain with a bit of sleet mixed in. We started the day out going down Wildlife Drive. There were good numbers of ducks in the marshes. Green-winged Teal numbers are still high with a count of 570. Other duck species seen were, 94 Northern Shovelers, 296 Gadwall, 83 Mallards, 154 Northern Pintails, 1 Canvasback, 1 Redhead, 2 Ring-necked Ducks, 16 Lesser Scaup, 10 Bufflehead, 17 Rudy Ducks, and 2 Common Goldeneye. We were unable to locate the Long-tailed Duck today. We saw 33 Wilson's Snipe. There were over 300 gulls off the end of Tern pad, most of which were Ring-billed Gulls, and 3 Herring Gulls, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 1 Bonaparte's Gull. We saw one mature Bald Eagle in the tree at Big Mineral picnic area and a three year old at Deaver Pond. Great Blue Herons were abundant with a count of 40. We saw an unusually high count of White-throated Sparrows and ended up with 133. We also saw 37 Harris's Sparrows and small numbers of White-crowned, Savannah, Song and Swamp Sparrows. We finished the count with 69 Species. Today was to inclement for photos so this is a photo of Lucy on a day when the weather was much nicer. Thanks for looking.

   Lucy - Female bald eagle 

Jan 17: Bird Census Results

It was another beautiful January day for our census. It was very calm most of the day. We walked the short loop of Harris Creek Trail early on and did not find many species there. The Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk is still hanging out in the trees across the creek there but there were few sparrow species in that area. We then continued on to Raasch Trail and saw a large number of Black and Turkey Vultures near the bridge. On down the road near the edge of the woods we saw 15 Wild Turkeys and farther down the road near the last open field we found a Brown Creeper, lots of Dark-eyed Juncos, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Fox Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings and several other species. Later on we found a Belted Kingfisher at Dead Woman Pond. At least 2500 white geese are still present. There were a couple of thousand or so gulls on the sandbar off the end of Tern pad, mostly Ring-billed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. There are still a lot of Buffleheads in Silliman Marsh, as well as Common Goldeneyes, Ruddy Ducks, the Long-tailed Duck and an assortment of other duck species. Gadwalls, Northern Pintails and Green-winged Teals are present in large numbers. We saw 43 Wilson's Snipe, 1 Dunlin, 6 Greater Yellowlegs and 32 Least Sandpipers. We finished the day with 79 species. Today's photo, the rare Long-tailed Duck that was discovered on 11-12-22 that has now been here for over two months and has been viewed and photographed by many. It has been interesting to watch the change in plumage that has occurred in the last 9 weeks. Hopefully it will stay around for another month or so. It has been very cooperative allowing close approach for fotos. Thanks for looking.

 Long-tailed Duck 

Jan 10: Bird Census Results

The morning started out cool and calm with the winds picking up later in the morning. It was a beautiful January day for the census. Early on we went to the field on the left, just after you enter the gate to the Goode Area to take advantage of the calm start to the morning to try to walk up some LeConte's Sparrow. As we approached the midway point of the field we were able to find 4 LeConte's Sparrows. This field is an excellent place to find this sparrow species. If you venture into the area, I would once again advise to proceed with caution because it is very difficult walking with lots of holes and dips. We then proceeded to Dead Woman Pond and watched a Pileated Woodpecker fly across in front of us and land in a tree giving us a good view. We proceeded on the trail past Dead Woman Pond and did not see much bird activity in that area, but we did find one Fox Sparrow, a species that has been scarce this year as are a lot of other species. As we proceeded on to the pads we saw Snow and Ross's Geese. There are still at least 2000 white geese present but there is very little on the refuge for them to eat In Steedman Marsh we found the continuing Long-tailed Duck, several Common Goldeneyes, at least 30 buffleheads, and some Lesser Scaups, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails and Green-winged Teal. We saw a total of 1177 Green-winged Teal scattered out around the refuge. We saw 56 Least Sandpipers in the shallow pond on the left going down Wildlife Drive. There were at least 900 Ring-billed Gulls present today. We found low numbers of birds of each of the common wintering species. I am not sure why there are such low numbers this year. We finished the day with 75 species. Photo, flock of Buffleheads in Steedman Marsh. Thanks for looking.

  flock of Buffleheads

Jan 03: Bird Census Results

It was a fairly nice January day for our first weekly bird census of the new year. Duck numbers are good with nearly a thousand Green-winged Teal counted and nearly 300 Northern Pintails. Other ducks seen were Buffleheads, Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, an American Wigeon and a Common Goldeneye. There were also over 4000 white geese present. The road to Meadow Pond was productive with 3 Winter Wrens, a Brown Creeper, several White-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. On the crossover between C pad and Sandy Road by the big culverts we saw a Brown Thrasher and a couple of Spotted Towhees. On the west side of the refuge we found a large flock of over 40 Yellow-rumped Warblers. We found Wilson's Snipes at Meadow Pond as well as near Wildlife Drive in the shallow pond that borders the large field. We saw 11 sparrow species. We finished the day with a total of 42 Wild Turkeys. There was an Inca Dove calling near headquarters. We finished the day with 81 species. Today's photos, Wilson's Snipe, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Savannah Sparrow and Brown Creeper. Thanks for looking.

Wilson's Snipe

Red-Tailed Hawk

Yellow-Rumped Warbler
 Wilson's Snipe                         Red-Tailed Hawk             Yellow-Rumped Warbler     

Savannah Sparrow

Brown Creeper
 Savannah Sparrow                    Brown Creeper     

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Sherman, TX 75092


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