Monday, August 8, 2016

Shore Birds at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Tx

It's start of return migration for shorebirds and there is already slow influx of shorebirds here. Thankfully forum members at Audobon dallas site keep posting the sightings and that helped me to finally go out for birding. It's been more than 3 months now since I went out for birding, I guess the last time was for seeing the spring migration at High Island. Combination of work, Texas heat and laziness too kept me away from birds for a while :-) Now since the fall migration starts, I have start going out more. Have a trip to Boston this month, I hope to get atleast 1 morning for birding. Would like to see Boston specialties atleast Black-capped chickadee :-)

I wanted to see Mississippi Kite and other shore birds at the refuge. Thanks to Chuck who helped me shortlisting the spots to visit the places in the refuge. And I was able to see the Kite at exactly the spot where he mentioned I would see this bird :-)

The shorebirds are not in huge numbers but you can still see different birds spread in pockets around the refuge. It was a challenge to bird in the heat but since most of the refuge is accessible by road, its easy to bird apart from the walk we have to take to visit "Dead Woman's pond" and "Meadow pond trail".

I reached the refuge at around 6:40AM. Went directly to "Dead Woman's pond". When I reached Picnic pond I heard huge sound and it turned out to be "Wild hogs". There were at-least 4 of them drinking water. Thankfully they were at quite a distance from the trail. Apart from these I saw a lone Green Heron and a Great Blue Heron in the pond. After waiting for a while to make sure the hogs have gone inside the forest I headed towards the "Dead Woman's pond". And in "Dead Woman's pond" I saw quite a few Green Heron's, a lone Little Blue Heron, few GBH and Great egrets. Apart from these I saw few Indigo buntings(Both male and female). I also saw couple of Hawks but they were very far hence could not Identify them correctly. I also heard the pecking sound from a woodpecker but could not locate the bird. Thought of walking this trail for a while but again I saw 3 wild hogs at the end of the pond. Since I was birding alone, I did not want to take any risk and hence headed back to refuge road and try my luck with shore birds.

When I reached the lake I did see few birds but not in the numbers I was expecting. You could see them in pockets spread across. There were quite a few Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dowitchers and Canada Gesse. I also saw quite a few Pectoral Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpiper and Upland Sandpipers. Other notable birds I saw were couple of White-faced Ibis. There were lot of Female Red-winged Blackbirds too. I did walk the "Meadow pond trail" to try my luck with Mississippi Kite. I Could not believe my luck, I saw the bird immediately after entering the trail. I would have missed him if I were late by even couple of minutes:-) Thanks to Chuck for mentioning this spot. I did walk till the Deavers pond but did not see many birds in the trail apart from Green Heron, GBH and Great Egrets in pond and few buntings and Cardinals in the trail.

Indigo Bunting(Female)

Probably Painted Bunting(Female) - need to confirm

Red-winged Blackbird(Female)
Upland Sandpiper
Short/Long Billed Dowitcher

Least Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers for comparison

Stilt Sandpiper


Spotted Sandpiper

Came back and tried my luck again in the lakes. This time I got lucky at finding a lone Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Had to head back home since it started getting pretty hot. Infact saw lot of these shorebirds taking rest under some of these small plants and some trying to use water to cool down. It was a very good day personally since I got to see atleast 6 new birds :-) There are few more shorebirds in my wishlist, hope to see them before this fall migration completes.

Green Heron

Indigo Bunting

Upland Sandpiper taking rest in shade

Stilt Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

White-faced Ibis
Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Little Blue Heron

Stilt Sandpiper
ebird :

List of birds :

1 Canada Goose  
2 Great Blue Heron  
3 Great Egret  
4 Snowy Egret  
5 Little Blue Heron  
6 Cattle Egret  
7 Green Heron  
8 White-faced Ibis  
9 Black Vulture  
10 Turkey Vulture  
11 Mississippi Kite  
12 Spotted Sandpiper  
13 Upland Sandpiper  
14 Stilt Sandpiper  
15 Least Sandpiper  
16 Buff-breasted Sandpiper  
17 Pectoral Sandpiper  
18 Semipalmated Sandpiper  
19 Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher  
20 Eastern Phoebe  
21 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  
22 Blue Jay  
23 American Crow  
24 Carolina Chickadee  
25 Carolina Wren  
26 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  
27 Northern Mockingbird  
28 Red-winged Blackbird  
29 Northern Cardinal