Sunday, January 3, 2016

Birding at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

I have been wanting to go for Tuesdays Bird Walk at Hagerman for a long time. I wasn't aware of this bird walk till Chuck informed me in the Audobon Forum. After I got to know about this bird walk which is led most of the times by Jack Charles is the best way to explore Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. I had been to this place for birding in October but birding with people like Jack really helps to know and understand the birds better. Since its tough to attend these Tuesday Bird walks because of weekday work I planned to attend on Dec 29'th which was kind of a holiday for me :-) Took half day off from work and went for birding. Chuck Carlson was also there.

The walk starts at 8AM, I had gone a little early to see Geese near the Refuge Center but I did not get to see any birds near the center except for some sparrows. We were 9 of us and 7 of us seated in Chuck's van and Jean and her husband followed us in their truck.

The refuge is completely flooded with no access to the usual roads we drive on the refuge. And the water level is still increasing and it is expected to crest on Sunday. So the number of water fowl was very low in the lake. Also since most of the grass is submerged we did not get to see the Snow/Ross's Geese which were seen in thousands till last week.

We saw lot of sparrows during the entire drive. We saw White-throated, White-crowned, Harris and Nelson's sparrow. We also saw Fox's sparrow near the Meadow Pond trail gate.  Jean wanted to see this bird which was on her wish list for the year bird. And in the lake near the trail we saw lot of Pintails, Gadwalls and Wigeons. There were 2 Ruddy ducks too along with lot of American Coots. Through out our drive we saw lot of Red-winged Blackbirds and Starlings. At one place we saw Brewers Blackbird too. And in one of the ponds we saw Ring-necked duck and few Lesser Scaups. Jack did spot a Common Yellowthroat but I did not get to see the same. We also saw about 3 Road runners during the drive. Such an amazing bird.

Road Runner


Lincoln's Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird(Female)


Ruddy Ducks along with coots

We started driving through the Meadow Pond trail and Deavers pond and the Meadow pond were full. Infact the Deaver's pond had a frozen layer at the top. The temperature had dropped drastically in last couple of days. On the trail we saw Bewick's Wren, Winter Wren, Golden crowned Kinglet, Mallards, Pintails and Gadwalls. Wayne did get to see 3 Rusty Birds which we all missed.  We also saw couple of Inca Doves. We also spotted few Goldfinches flock which had Pine Siskins too. I tried to find them but failed to see any :-(

Fox Sparrow

Bewick's Wren

Winter Wren

Golden Crowned Kinglet
At the end of 5 hrs drive, Jack had compiled a list of 83 birds. I missed about 15 species in that list. But it still it was great seeing so many birds and learning the birding skills from all the experienced folks who were in the group.

After this birding walk I decided to follow Chuck and Mike to checkout the Dead Womans pond. On the way we saw a Belted Kingfisher and my first sighting of a Coyote. In the Dead Woman's pond we saw few Green Winged Teals, Ring-necked Ducks and Mallards. And on the lake we saw some Gadwalls, Ring necked Ducks and Mallards. The other sightings were of some sparrows and Gold Finches. And from the parking lot we observed a soaring raptor which Jack helped identifying it as a Northern Harrier.

Ring-necked Ducks

Red-headed Woodpecker

American Goldfinch

Northern Harrier

Northern Shoveller
After leaving the Dead Woman's pond I stopped at the Wildlife drive to see some Waterfowl. I only saw few Mallards, Pintails, Gadwalls and American Wigeons. And on the way saw few Kestrels, Loggerhead Shrike, Goldfinch, Cowbird, Canvasback, Gadwalls and Pintails.

Northern Flicker

American Goldfinch

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


American Kestrel
Harris Sparrow

Red-tailed Hawk

Great Blue Heron

Loggerhead Shrike



American Kestrel

Hope to join the Tuesday birding group again sometime soon. Thanks to Chuck for informing me about this great birding walk and also helping me with identifying so many birds.