Thursday, January 22, 2015

RESOLVE TO GET INVOLVED AT REFUGE in 2015!



                A Visitor Center Volunteer Orientation is set for Sunday afternoon, January 25 at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, from 2 – 4 pm and will be an opportunity to learn more about volunteering in the Visitor Center.   Visitor Center volunteers greet visitors, hand out literature and answer questions about the Refuge, book tram reservations and make gift shop sales using a computer sales system.  Volunteers work one or more shifts each month – 9 am – 12:30 pm and/or 12:30 – 4 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 1 - 5 pm Sundays.  The schedule is flexible, and couples may work together.  Training is provided and extensive reference materials and support are available to volunteers.  Volunteers must be 18, or 16 if accompanied by a parent/volunteer.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, located at 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, offers a number of other volunteer opportunities, including the following:

 Nature Walk Leaders – lead small groups on guided walk on one of the Refuge trails.  Need good general knowledge of birds, other wildlife, as well as plants at Hagerman NWR.  Join on our call team for school and other group visits by adults or youngsters, volunteers may be needed weekdays or weekends, so you can specify when you could be available.

 Youth Program Assistant – join the Youth FIRST team!  Programs are for ages 4 -7 and 8 – 12, on the first Saturday of each month.  Sign up to attend the next team meeting and you can choose to read a story, lead a game or a craft for one or more sessions, or just provide general help!  Must be 16.

 Nest Box Monitor – Nest box trails at Refuge are monitored weekly, March through August; schedule depends on how many teams we have for the season; generally a team of 2 -3 monitors once each month, plus work days at the beginning and end of each season.  Number of volunteers needed is limited. Must be available on a Thursday or Friday, have completed safe driving course, and able to record data accurately. Age 18 or older.

 Gardener – work in the new Butterfly Garden at the Refuge; this spring we will be adding new plants, weeding and mulching.  Join team that is on call for workdays, both weekdays and weekends.  Volunteers provide own hand tools and gloves.  Minimum age 18, or 16 if accompanied by parent/volunteer.

 Tram Tour Driver/Guides - Drive all electric open air tram on 4 mile tour route (1.5 hours) at Hagerman NWR; must have safe driving record, complete approved driver safety program and be knowledgeable about wildlife and willing to learn Refuge history and operations to share with visitors on tour.  Drive one or more times monthly, Wednesday at 10 am, Sundays at 2 pm; Saturdays either 10 am or 2 pm, depending on season.   Tours go, weather permitting.

 Tram Maintenance - need individual, minimum age 18, or 16 if accompanied by parent/volunteer, or team to service twelve 6-volt batteries twice monthly; maintain water level and keep terminals clean and  terminal connections tight.  Choose your own schedule for this volunteer service.

 For more information or to volunteer, call the Refuge, 903 786 2826 or send us a comment.


    



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where Are the Geese?



The most frequently asked question at the Hagerman NWR Visitor Center these days is “Where are the geese?”

Each winter the Refuge is known for huge flocks of Snow and Ross’s geese who come thousands of miles to enjoy warmer weather and abundant food.  However, taking center stage for the past several years is drought, and in 2013, adding insult to injury, a week of ice in early December.

Snow Geese in Flight, by Rick Cantu

In the fall, the Refuge planted 300 acres of wheat for green browse for the geese; as soon as they arrived they literally “mowed” it down and with little to no fall rain, the wheat did not continue growing.

According to data from eBird, the all-time high reported number of Snow geese was 10,000, on November 15, 1994.  For Ross’s, 5,000 were reported on December 15, 2009, for the all-time high.

These days visitors are most likely to see the geese flying in or out of the Refuge or resting in the lake between forays to area farms; they return to the lake each evening to spend the night, safe from predators.

These numbers from Jack Chiles’ Weekly Bird Survey tell the story for the 2014-15 winter:

Large numbers of geese first showed up for last fall on November 11, 2014:
Snow Goose  1
Ross's Goose  1
Snow/Ross's Goose  1500
November 18, 2014
Snow Goose  200
Ross's Goose  200
Snow/Ross's Goose  5000
November 25, 2014
Snow Goose  200
Ross's Goose  200
Snow/Ross's Goose  4600
December 2, 2014
Snow Goose  200
Ross's Goose  200
Snow/Ross's Goose  5000
 
December 9, 2014
Snow Goose  150
Ross's Goose  2200
Snow/Ross's Goose  2650
December 16, 2014
Snow Goose  450
Ross's Goose  450
Snow/Ross's Goose  4100
December 23, 2014
Snow Goose  50
Ross's Goose  40
Snow/Ross's Goose  3000
December 30, 2014
Snow Goose  142
Ross's Goose  135
Snow/Ross's Goose  7
 
January 6, 2015
Snow Goose  1
Ross's Goose  1
Snow/Ross's Goose  60
January 13, 2015
There were about 3500 white geese on the lake at noon.






Thursday, January 8, 2015

Friends Look Back at 2014, Part II

Continued from January 1, 2015

In July Omar Bocanegra presented for Second Saturday, on Dragonflies and Damselflies.  Jim Varnum led a driving tour of the Refuge following the program.  Later in July Aaron Blount gave a program on Snakes of Hagerman.   Work got underway on the new Butterfly Garden at the Refuge, and the entry period for the 5th annual HNWR Nature Photography Contest opened.  Laura Cooper was July Photographer of the Month.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, by Laura Cooper
“Along Came a Spider”, for Youth FIRST, and "ABC's of Bats", with Dr. Bryon Clark, for Second Saturday in August.   Jesus Moreno, graphics artist, designed and contributed a new logo for the Friends use.  The list of sponsors for the new Butterfly Garden was growing rapidly.  The Bluestem Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist, began a series of fall classes for new candidates.  Photographer of the Month was Holly Cantu.

Reflections, by Holly Cantu
in September, Bert Garcia, Chair for the Nest Box Monitors reported an 82% success rate for the 2014 season.  Nature Nook Chairs Roger and Sally Peckenpaugh announced that Ducks Unlimited had donated a series of waterfowl prints to the Friends to sold in the book and gift shop.  Youth FIRST topic for the month was "Who Lives in a Pond", and following a guided bird walk led by Jack Chiles, Dr. Wayne Meyer, in memory of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, spoke on “Extinct Birds”.  Photographer of the Month for September was Randy Conaway.

Curious Bobcat, by Randy Conaway
Youth FIRST enjoyed “Owls- they’re a Hoot” in October, and Second Saturday featured Dr. George Diggs, on “Ferns of Texas”, following a guided bird walk led by Jack Chiles.  Workampers Bill and Carol Powell, and Barry and Lynn Burkhardt shared their experiences and wisdom at FAQ’s about Workamping.    Butterfly Garden sponsors enjoyed a preview party celebrating progress on the new garden.  George Cooper was named October photographer of the month.

Greater Roadrunner, by George Cooper
For November, Youth First learned about “Animals – Masters of Disguise”.  Jack Chiles led the year’s last bird walk and Jessica Healy presented “what About the Bobcat” for Second Saturday.  Photo contest winners were announced; sweeping the field were Jesus Moreno, Lee Hatfield, Randy Conaway and Bob Brown.  Record numbers turned out to hear The Country Roads Band and enjoy High on the Hawg, chaired by Ron Varley, on November 15.  Hannah Frosch was Photographer of the Month. 

Follow the Signs, by Hannah Frosch
And – December – Honk, Honk – Geese at Hagerman was the youth topic, while “Bobwhite Quail”, presented by Jason Hardin, TPWD, was featured for Second Saturday.  The Christmas Bird Count attracted a record number of participants and found 104 species, plus 11 more during “Count Week.” Amanda Burns was Photographer of the Month.  Volunteers finished up the first phase of planting in the new garden and attended the first in a series of Monarch Conservation webinars.

On the Beach, by Amanda Burns
Now we are one week into 2015 and plans are afoot for another great year, thanks to all the Friends, volunteers and Refuge staff!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Friends Look Back at 2014, Part I


The Friends of Hagerman kicked off 2014 with Friday Fun Day, inviting area youth to visit the Refuge and create nature crafts on January 3.  Thanks to the volunteers who manned stations for the various crafts!   Next up, for Second Saturday, Dr. Mike Keck presented “Snakes of North Texas”.  Dr. Bill Hughes presented a Nature Writing Workshop in January and Jillian M. Duquaine Watson was Photographer of the Month.

The Majestic Fisherman, by Jillian M. Duquaine-Watson
The birds took over in February:  for Youth FIRST – Backyard Birds; for Second Saturday, Refuge Manager Kathy Whaley presented “Bluebirds” and Begin to Bird Classes led by Dick Malnory were held on two Saturdays, along with a Guided Bird Walk led by Dr. Wayne Meyer, with sightings reported to the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Photographer of the Month was Jesus Moreno.  New workampers Bob and Fran King were welcomed.

Great Egret, by Jesus Moreno
March was chock-full of activity.  For Youth FIRST, Let’s Learn About Trees” while popular speaker Mark Klym, TPWD, presented on “Hummingbirds”.  Youngsters and their families flocked to the Refuge for Spring Break Family Fun with tram tours, guided walks and nature crafts.  Jack Chiles led a guided bird walk in March, and volunteers enjoyed a recognition luncheon hosted by the Friends following the Annual Meeting of the Friends of Hagerman.  March Photographer of the Month was Michael Keck.

Geese Fly to the Moon, by Michael Keck
Youth FIRST looked for April showers with a weather program, “My Head Is in the Clouds”, with KTEN Meteorologist Cathy Evans Corbett.  Dr. Wayne Meyer led a guided bird walk followed by “Birding by Ear,” for Second Saturday. Nest Box monitoring was underway on the Bluebird Trails at the Refuge, chaired by Bert Garcia.  Allen Rich was Photographer of the Month for April.

Wild Turkey in Flight, by Allen Rich
“Nature and Your Five Senses” was the topic for Youth FIRST, and Second Saturday was devoted to “Butterflies of North Texas, with speaker Dale Clark.  Professional photographer Trey Neal lead a Photography Workshop and Terri Barnett was named Photographer of the Month.  School zone – various area school groups came to the Refuge for field trips once or twice each week in late April and during May.

White-tailed Deer by Terri Barnett
The Refuge observed National Trails Day with a Grand Slam Hike weekend June 7 -8.  Youth FIRST studied “The Wonderful World of Insects” and participants at Second Saturday heard Kim Snipes present on “Sharks!”.  Dr. Wayne Meyer led a bird walk prior to the program.  New at the Refuge - Pathways summer intern, Aaron Blount.  And – first ever known at Hagerman, Bald Eagle nest produced two young.  June Photographer of the Month was Tom Crews.

Five Star Lunch, by Tom Crews


To be continued next week.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Twelve Days of Winter at Hagerman NWR

On the first day of winter, at Hagerman we see – a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the second day of winter, at Hagerman we see - two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the third day of winter, at Hagerman we see - three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the fourth day of winter, at Hagerman we see - four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the fifth day of winter, at Hagerman we see - five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the sixth day of winter, at Hagerman we see - six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the seventh day of winter, at Hagerman we see - seven Shovelers shoveling, -six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the eighth day of winter, at Hagerman we see - eight Coots a-bobbing, seven Shovelers shoveling,  six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the ninth day of winter, at Hagerman we see – nine nodding pumpjacks, eight Coots a-bobbing, seven Shovelers shoveling, six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the tenth day of winter, at Hagerman we see - ten pintails dabbling, nine nodding pumpjacks, eight Coots a-bobbing, seven Shovelers shoveling, six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

On the eleventh day of winter, at Hagerman we see - eleven geese-a-browsing, ten pintails dabbling,  nine nodding pumpjacks, eight Coots a-bobbing, seven Shovelers shoveling, six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.


On the twelfth day of winter, at Hagerman we see - twelve bluebird boxes, eleven geese-a-browsing, ten pintails dabbling. nine nodding pumpjacks, eight Coots a-bobbing, seven Shovelers shoveling, six birders birding, five hiking trails, four leaping White-tails, three Harriers harrying, two Eagles soaring and a jolly red tram touring merrily.

Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Migratory Bird Conservation Commission Champion Retires

From the National Wildlife Refuge Association e-Newsletter, December 2014
This month, Refuge System champion and conservation hero, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) participated in his last meeting of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission as he is retiring in January. He is the longest serving member of the Commission, having begun his tenure 45 years ago in 1969.
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission authorizes and approves areas of land and/or water recommended by the Secretary of the Interior for purchase or easement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They also fix the price or prices at which such areas may be acquired. Most importantly for conservation, the Commission considers the establishment of new waterfowl refuges.
Congressman Dingell enjoying his cake | Desiree Sorenson-Groves
Congressman Dingell enjoying his cake | Desiree Sorenson-Groves
Established on February 18, 1929 by the passage of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Commission typically convenes three times per year in March, June, and September, as needed, or in this case November. The Division of Realty within the Service produces an annual report that summarizes the operations of the Commission.
Since the Commission was established, over 5.5 million acres have been acquired by the Service via fee purchase, easement, or lease. These purchases are funded by the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund which draws funds mostly from the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (also known as the Duck Stamp), but also from appropriations authorized by the Wetlands Loan Act of October 4, 1961 as amended, important duties collected on arms and ammunition, and receipts from the sale of refuge admission permits as provided for by the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986. The Fund is further supplemented by receipts from the sale of products from rights-of-way across national wildlife refuges, disposals of refuge land, and reverted Federal Aid funds.
In 1989, the Commission earned the additional responsibility to approve project funding under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The North American Wetlands Conservation Council, which was created by NAWCA, submits project recommendations to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission for funding approval, and thus far all have been approved for funding representing $1 billion for the protection of wetland habitat.
This particular meeting was particularly meaningful because two of the Congressional members of the Committee will not be back in 2015.  Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) was defeated in his re-election bid and Congressman Dingell is retiring. As the longest serving member of the Commission, and indeed, the longest serving member of either the House or Senate in our country’s history, Representative Dingell has been a longtime champion of the National Wildlife Refuge System and talked about the importance of the System in remarks to the Committee. Dingell established the first International Wildlife Refuge and endorsed the development of many others protecting critical breeding and wintering habitat for hundreds of species of fish and wildlife. Since he came on the Commission in 1969, 3300 tracts of land totalling over 700,000 acres have been added to the Refuge System.  As his long time former staffer, and now Director of Government Affairs for Ducks Unlimited remarked, “Congressman Dingell is second only to Theodore Roosevelt when it comes to conservation in America.”
Below is the list of approved projects for national wildlife refuges. NAWCA projects were approved, but await funding from the Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill currently being debated by Congress:
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Texas – 475.93 acres for $606,800
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana – 804 acres for $2,010,350
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland – 153.6 acres for $490,000
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Washington – 303 acres for $455,000

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bobwhite Quail

Jason Hardin, Upland Game Bird Specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will be the presenter for Second Saturday at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, on December 13, at 10 am. 
Hardin's topic will be "The Bobwhite Quail".

Hardin, who earned his undergraduate in Forest Wildlife Management at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and master’s degree in Range and Wildlife Management at Texas A&M University – Kingsville, has also worked as Coordinator for the Audubon Texas Quail and Grassland Birds Initiative.  His graduate work focused on empirical testing of Dr. Fred Guthery’s “Hunter-Covey Interface Theory”, and he served as Coordinator of the Quail Associates Program for the first two years of the project.   

According to state biologists, the Bobwhite Quail population has decreased 75% over the past 30 years, due to disappearing grasslands across Texas.  Last year Texas lawmakers earmarked funds for restoring prime quail habitat, and expanding research and education about the species.  Hardin will address the present status of quail and restoration efforts in his talk.

Second Saturday programs are open to the public, free of charge, and are held in the Visitor Center Meeting Room.  Hagerman NWR is located at 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, 75092.  For more information, contact the Refuge, 903 786 2826, or see friendsofhagerman.com/.