Monday, January 25, 2010

Go Take a Hike!

There are five hiking trails at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, ranging in length from less than one mile up to 5.5 miles. The trails are Crow Hill, Harris Creek, Haller’s Haven, Meadow Pond, and Old Trains and Terry Lane.

Last year, Doug Raasch, Refuge volunteer, put together an excellent trail guide series that is available on the Friends website. The following is a brief summary about each of the five trails:

1. Crow Hill Trail is ¾ miles, round trip, and is an interpretive trail, not handicap accessible – uneven terrain with steep grade. There is a 16’ observation tower. From the Visitor Center parking lot, travel west on Wildlife Drive for one mile from the concrete bridge. Turn south and follow the gravel road for ¾ of a mile.

2. Haller’s Haven Trail offers a choice of hikes: ½ mile to Dead Woman’s Pond, a 4 mile loop, or a 5-1/2 mile loop which takes you past Hagerman cemetery and to the Cedar of Lebanon. Wildlife is almost guaranteed around Dead Woman’s Pond. To reach the trail, from the Visitor Center, go north across the low water crossing, the road will turn left, just north of intersection with Hagerman Road; then take the first right turn, you will see a yellow gate that is the beginning of the trail. The longer loops include a mowed grass trail and an old road.

3. Harris Creek Trail is an earthen path, uneven in places. There are two loops: the lower loop is approximately 1¼ miles and is located in a wetland area; the upper loop is 2¼ miles. The entrance is just southwest of the Visitor Center, look for the rail fence marking the parking lot

4. Meadow Pond Trail is a gravel surfaced road; it is 3 miles from the beginning to end, for a 6 mile round trip. To reach the trail, from the Visitor Center, follow Wildlife Drive west to the yellow gate, where the road T’s. Parking is available at the trail head or in day use area to your right. Some consider this the best “all-around” trail.

5. Old Trains and Terry Lane Trail - three-mile round-trip trail is an old railroad bed with a level, gravel surface all the way. The trail entrance is at east end of Wildlife Drive; pull off the road and park by yellow gate.

Detailed guides to these five trails are available in print at the Visitor Center and online on the NEWS page at Trail conditions vary according to rainfall received and mowing schedule. During warm weather you will want to use insect repellant and watch for snakes.

Photo: One of two benches on Haller's Haven Trail, built and installed recently by Eagle Scout candidate Brian Scott.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Second Saturday for Youth Begins at Hagerman NWR

Nine youngsters and their parents and grandparents braved sub-freezing temperatures earlier this month to attend the first Second Saturday for Youth program at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.

Led by Ed Supina, the children crafted bird feeders from natural materials, to take home, a perfect activity for a winter morning as well as a treat for the backyard birds. Popcorn, peanut butter, pine cones, bird seed, corn cobs, and natural fiber rope all went into the making of the feeders.

Future programs, geared for youngsters ages 6 – 12, will include more nature related crafts such as making gourd birdhouses, which will be led by Sandra Haynes on February 13, and wildflower seed balls, led by Mary Ann Kelley on March 13.

On April 10, Kay Karns will lead the youngsters in creating butterfly feeders, and on May 8, Katie Palmer will lead a session on Animal Adaptations and their Environments.

Part of each session will include outdoor nature fun, weather permitting, according to. Supina, a Friends of Hagerman NWR board member and Education Committee Chair.

These events begin at 10 a.m. and end at noon; they are free and open to the public, but reservations are necessary due to limited space. The programs are sponsored by Hagerman NWR and the Friends of Hagerman; to reserve a spot in the next session, call 903 786 2826.

For more information about programs at Hagerman NWR, please visit, and for inforamtion about the Refuge, see
Photo by Kay Karns

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekly Bird Survey at Hagerman NWR

On Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., an eager crew of birders rolls out in the Refuge van to do a bird survey at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge Volunteer Karl Haller has been the “designated driver” each week for many years, for these bird census outings at Hagerman, and he also recorded sightings on both Tuesday and Thursday surveys. While Karl continues to drive, the survey is now conducted once weekly and Jack Chiles is the official recorder. Here are highlights from the count January 5:

2,500 geese, 20 gadwall, 70 pintail, 50 green winged teal, 20 bufflehead, 15 hooded merganser, 15 canvasback, 12 turkey, 20 horned grebe, 5 pied-bill grebe, 3 eared grebe, 6 red shouldered hawk, 8 coot, 12 yellowlegs, 4 killdeer, 4 least sandpiper, 700 ring billed gull, 12 flicker, 2,000+ horned lark, 7 cedar waxwing, 3 American pipit, 40 Harris’s sparrow, 50 chipping sparrow, 250 meadowlark

With Jack’s help, Grace and Michael Haight are creating a computerized file of the records from past years, as well as current data.

Wondering how you count 2500 geese or 2000 horned larks? There is a method – isolate one area of geese with say, 15-20 birds in that area, count them, then estimate the number of similar size areas taken up by the flock; multiply the count from the first area x the number of similar areas = bird count. Birds not in large flocks are counted individually.

Local birding volunteers are joined from time to time by birding visitors from all over the country. These groups complete their rounds by 1 p.m., but there is no rush to lunch, as the crew is well fortified with homemade cookies by the end of the ride. There is also some history behind the statistics. For example, the number of trips per year was reduced in 2007, 2008, and 2009 by the flooding of Lake Texoma, and the most unusual bird sighting has been the pair of whooping cranes that visited the Refuge in December, 2007.

Hats off to these volunteers for recording bird history at Hagerman NWR. To keep up with the weekly survey highlights, visit the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page or Reports are usually posted each Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning For information about Hagerman NWR, see

Photo Collage by Grace & Michael Haight

Monday, January 4, 2010

Great Blue Rescued through Team Effort

By Jana Singletary

Saturday, January 2, 2010 - Phil and I took Braden, age 5, to Denison Dam today in search of Eagles. Instead we were shocked and saddened to find a Great Blue Heron in a very desperate situation. It had been snagged by several lures on a fishing line that dangled down from a power line over the river. We watched in horror as the heron struggled unsuccessfully to free himself.
As we watched, a fisherman kept throwing rocks in an attempt to break the line. To our amazement, the line finally snapped, and the bird plunged into the river. It managed to swim to shore, but it was obvious that it was badly injured. The fisherman attempted to get close enough to help the bird but quit when he saw that the bird was becoming more stressed by his efforts.
I called my daughter Kim, who located a wildlife rehab organization in Dallas. After some good advice from them and volunteers Michael and Grace Haight at Hagerman NWR, I contacted a local expert, Steve Armstrong, Grayson County Wildlife Rehabilitation, who quickly rescued the injured heron and transported it to a rehab facility. Hopefully they'll be able to save the bird. It was the best possible ending to a very stressful day.

Photo of Great Blue Heron taken by Becky Goodman at Hagerman NWR.

Editors Note: This episode underlines the importance of taking lines and lures home, not leaving them to snare or hook waterfowl and other creatures. Metal can tabs and the plastic loops that hold six-packs are other common hazards to wildlife. Please, please, pay attention to the adage, in nature, leave behind nothing but your footprints!

A source of information re injured wildlife is For more information about Hagerman NWR see, and for information about programs and activities at the Refuge, see