Monday, June 28, 2010

Adventures of Aqua-coon

By Nancy Miller

Last Friday, I had a bad day at work, so I thought the best way to shake it off was to head to the Refuge. It had rained and cooled down about 15 degrees, so why not. I remember I got there about 4:20 p.m., because the Visitor Center was closed, and I couldn’t sign in. (Note to visitors: please be sure to sign in when you visit the Refuge!)

As usual, I headed on down Wildlife Drive. I always have to stop and watch the wildlife along the way, you never know what kind of entertainment you might get unless you stop and look. You can miss a lot if you drive on down the road without stopping.

Before long, I came upon a large number of Canada Geese. I noticed they were all swimming faster than normal. Then I saw something that looked a little different swimming ahead of the group. At first, I thought it was a goose with its head in the water, but when I took a look through my camera, I saw it was a raccoon! These geese were running this raccoon out of their waters!

Now I never really thought about a raccoon swimming, but I guess they do. He out-swam the geese, got out and headed up the incline to Tern Road, never looking back, never stopping. My first thought was all the Tern eggs. But the raccoon crossed the road, and continued back into the tall grass - I was so relieved that he didn’t head down the road where the Least Terns are nesting.

It turned out to be a good trip. With the cooler weather, I saw a lot more activity than expected for that time of day, and all thoughts of my bad day were forgotten.

To learn more about Hagerman NWR, please see, and for information about programs and events at the Refuge, go to

Photo by Nancy Miller

Monday, June 21, 2010

Animal Dads of Note

From the US FWS Newswire and Friends of Hagerman NWR

Good dads make the going easier. So with Father’s Day having just been celebrated on June 20, it’s a great time to look at the animal kingdom, where some dads’ flair for parenting can make the difference between life and death. Here are a few devoted animal dads and some National Wildlife Refuges where they live.

Role model: Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Reason: The male of the species makes an attentive father, especially in the first month after birth. While females nurse the cubs, the fathers carry hunting duties and bring food to the den every four to six hours. But fathers do more than deliver the bacon, they plays with their pups, too. As they get older and stronger he teaches them to hunt and hide from predators. Meal service ends when the pups reach three months in age.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Seatuck Refuge, NY; Innoko Refuge Alaska; Missisquoi Refuge, Vermont; Stewart B. McKinney Refuge, Connecticut.

Role model: Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

Reason: While his mate warms their clutch of eggs, the male owl catches small rodents to feed both him and her. Once the eggs hatch, he hunts for and feeds the whole family.

Some refuges where you can look for him: Target Refuge, New York; Pea Island Refuge, North Carolina; Bosque Refuge, New Mexico; Wertheim Refuge, New York; Hagerman NWR, Texas, Aransas Refuge, Texas; Tallahatchie Refuge, Mississippi.

Role model: Ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Reason: Unlike many of his duck buddies who spend their time courting and playing the field, the male ruddy duck shares responsibility for his young.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Malheur Refuge, Oregon; San Pablo Bay Refuge, California; Pea Island Refuge, North Carolina; Montezuma Refuge, New York; Muleshoe Refuge, Texas.

Role model: Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Reason: Flamingos tend to mate for life and the male helps feather his mate’s nest. He then takes turns with her sitting on it. When their single egg hatches he shares childrearing duties.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Aransas Refuge, Texas; Archie Carr Refuge, Florida; Arthur M. Loxahatchee Refuge, Florida; Cedar Keys Refuge, Florida; Caloosahatchee Refuge, Florida.

Role model: Barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa)

Reason: The male makes a distinctive contribution to parenting. He sticks close by until the eggs are hatched preventing them from drying out by dousing them with urine.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Carolina Sandhills Refuge, South Carolina: Pocosin Lakes Refuge, North Carolina: Santee Refuge, South Carolina.

For more information on any listed refuge, visit Use the “Find Your Refuge” tool to search for refuges by state, alphabetic listing or zip code.

For more information about activities and events at Hagerman NWR, see

Photo: Great Horned Owl by Eileen Sullivan

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fishing Fun

Who has more fun than a youngster going fishing? Only a parent or grandparent watching them make that catch! At this time of year many recreation facilities are holding fishing derbies, etc. for boys and girls, and the Van Alstyne Library even held a fishing clinic at the library (no water in sight) last week, led by representatives from the Friends of Hagerman, Ed Supina, Education Chair for the Friends, and volunteer Ken McTee.

At this time of year the ponds at Hagerman NWR as well as the lake are open to fishermen, and the area around several of the ponds has been recently mowed. On Super Saturday, May 29, fish were caught in Picnic Pond and in the display ponds near the maintenance area at the Refuge. Apparently the ponds are stocked "by nature" when the lake floods! As always, watch out for snakes and ticks when walking the trails and grassy areas. For information about licenses and fishing regulations, see

So when you are out for a good time this summer, take one or more boys and girls, a pole, line, hook and sinker, add bait and water and ENJOY!

For more information about programs and activities at Hagerman NWR, see, and for the official Refuge website, go to

Photos - top by Becky Goodman, lower right by Sue Malnory

Monday, June 7, 2010

Texas Wildflowers

By Mary Ann Kelley

When we think wildflowers in bloom, we usually think Bluebonnets and Spring. Did you know that wildflowers bloom in almost every month of the year in our great state of Texas? There are hundreds of pretty little flowers that line the road sides and the prairies. Some of these may be considered weeds, and yes they are wild. Thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, wildflowers are not only more prevalent but are more appreciated. It has become popular to plant open fields, road sides and vacant lots as well as our back yards. Wildflower seeds have become easier to find to purchase. Like so many other beautiful flowers, wildflowers are a little tricky to successfully propagate. On June 12 at Hagerman Refuge Center, we are going to get the help of youngsters aged 6 - 12 to start the process of planting seeds. They will learn how to start the germinating process and make seed balls that can be taken home and planted in their yards.

To participate in this Second Saturday for Youth event, reservations are necessary and may be made by calling 903 786 2826. The program is free of charge.

For those interested in D-I-Y, here is link to instructions for the seed balls. For more information about programs and activities at the Refuge, please see The official Hagerman NWR web address is

Photo: Gallardias, by Carol Pfeiffer