Thursday, August 25, 2011

Picture the Refuge

Photographers can always find something new at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge habitat ranges from wetlands to prairie to woodlands, and seasonal changes add infinite variety to the landscape, flora and fauna to be found there. Another variable is the time of day and weather for a particular visit. Information about the Refuge for photographers can be found on the Friends website, but some may prefer to discover the perfect “shot” for themselves.

This fall there will be a number of opportunities for photographers beyond a solo photo outing.

Entries will be accepted for the 2nd annual Hagerman NWR Photo Contest, through September 15. Rules and entry forms are available online. Winners will be announced on October 8, to kick off National Wildlife Refuge Week.

In continuing celebration of the Grand Opening of the new Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center, the Blackland Prairie raptors will be shown at the Refuge from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm on Saturday, September 10, as part of Super Second Saturday, a good chance for photographers to get close ups of the birds that will be displayed.

From 12:30 - 1:30 pm that day, the Friends Nature Photo Club will offer a free Photo-How-To. Participants who bring their camera and manual can learn more about the features offered by their particular model; cameras from simple point and shoot to digital SLR’s are welcome. In addition an interactive program will allow the photographer to view changes created by manipulating various camera settings. A photo composition workshop will be offered as well as instruction on downloading, resizing and cropping photos. The session will wrap up with a presentation at 1:30 pm of photos on the theme, “Macro”, shared by club members. The club, which is open to anyone interested in nature photography, meets at the Refuge every other month, from 12:30 - 2 pm.

Also on September 10, families can take the photo scavenger hunt challenge; bring digital camera (any type) and sign in between 8 am and 2 pm at the Info Desk in the new Visitor Center. Photos must be submitted by 2 pm to complete the challenge.

On Saturday, October 15, the Friends Nature Photo Club and the Refuge will sponsor the Autumn Photo Safari, watch for details on this event which will wrap up National Wildlife Refuge Week.

Photographers are also invited to share their photos taken at Hagerman on the Friends Facebook page and through the Photographer of the Month program.

For more information about Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, visit the official Refuge website, and see Friends of Hagerman for more on activities and events.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Federal Duck Stamps

What are Duck Stamps? The US Fish and Wildlife Service Duck Stamp website says that Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps,” are pictorial stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. They are not valid for postage. Originally created in 1934 as the federal licenses required for hunting migratory waterfowl, Federal Duck Stamps have a much larger purpose today.

According to the National Wildlife Refuge Association, “Ever since the first Duck Stamp was issued, the annual Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp has been a popular collector’s item for hunters and non-hunters alike. You can read a brief history of the Federal Duck Stamp at

Federal Duck Stamps are a vital tool for wetland conservation. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Understandably, the Federal Duck Stamp Program has been called one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated and is a highly effective way to conserve America’s natural resources.

Each year a national competition is held for the stamp design. The 2011 - 2012 Duck Stamp was painted by wildlife artist James Hautman of Minnesota

In 1989, the first Junior Duck Stamp was introduced, along with an environmental education program for youth. A nationwide competition is held also, through the schools, for art for the Junior Duck Stamp.

The US FWS lists five reasons to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp:

  1. Hunters over the age of 16 must purchase a Federal Duck Stamp each year if they want to hunt migratory waterfowl.
  2. Birders and other frequenters of National Wildlife Refuges purchase a $15 Federal Duck Stamp each year in order to gain free admission to refuges.
  3. Conservationists buy Federal Duck Stamps because they know that the stamps are, dollar for dollar, one of the best investments one can make in the future of America’s wetlands.
  4. Collectors buy both the Federal and Junior Duck Stamps because the beautiful stamps can gain value over the years and are an important part of America’s outdoor culture.
  5. Finally, educators, conservationists, hunters, parents, and students alike buy $5 Junior Duck Stamps in order to support conservation education programs in the U.S.

Where to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp:

· Many United State Post Offices

· Major sporting goods and outdoor stores that sell hunting licenses

· On the web at

Information in this post is from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 550 refuges across the U.S. The Friends of Hagerman support conservation and educational programs and activities at the Refuge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Explore Texas in 1835 with Dr. Gideon Lincecum

The Second Saturday program at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge for the month of August will be something a little different: a Chautauqua-style lecture in which Dr. Jerry Lincecum role-plays his ancestor, Dr. Gideon Lincecum. Gideon Lincecum was an American pioneer, historian, physician and prominent naturalist in Texas. Gideon will be introduced by Dr. Peggy Redshaw. The free program will be held in the meeting room of the new Visitor Center at the Refuge, which is located at 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, 75092, at 10 am on August 13. Second Saturday nature programs are open to the public.

Jerry Lincecum, a sixth-generation Texan, is an Emeritus Professor of English at Austin College. He has a BA from Texas A&M and the MA and Ph.D. from Duke University. Jerry, who is shown in courtesy photo above, is a great-great-great grandson of Gideon.

Peggy Redshaw, a native of central Illinois, is Professor of Biology at Austin College. She holds a BS from Quincy College and a Ph.D. from Illinois State University.

Along with their colleague, the late Dr. Edward Hake Phillips, Jerry and Peggy have published several scholarly books and papers drawn from the Gideon Lincecum Papers, including “Adventures of a Frontier Naturalist” (1994), “Science on the Texas Frontier” (1997), and “Gideon Lincecum’s Sword: Civil War Letters from the Texas Home Front” (2001).

Coffee will be served in the Friends Building from 9 - 10 am on August. 13, and Second Saturday for Youth will begin in the Friends Classroom at 10 am. Please note that reservations are closed for this month's youth program, as it is full.

For directions or more information about Hagerman NWR, please see the official Refuge website or

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fall Shorebird Migration

On August 2, 2011, Jack Chiles reported in the highlights for the weekly bird census at the Refuge:

In an area south of "F" pad that is drying up we saw 2 American Avocets, 1 Western Sandpiper, 4 White Ibis, 15 White-faced Ibis, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 2 Long-billed Dowitchers, 3 Wilson's Phalaropes, 6 Stilt Sandpipers, 2 Semi-palmated Sandpipers, 3 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpipers.

Yes, the shorebirds are arriving on the fall migration.The following is a reprint of an article by Wayne Meyer, PhD, that appeared in the September, 2009, issue of the Featherless Flyer.

Most people know that there are thousands of geese at Hagerman NWR each winter, but not many know that shorebird migrations bring at least twice that many birds through our refuge. North American shorebirds breed in the northern tier of states, Canada or the high Arctic. Most of them spend the winter in the tropics, although some species will travel into South America. This means that they must fly thousands of miles, a feat requiring a great deal of fuel. Wetlands located along the migration routes, therefore, are important places for the birds to stop and refuel. Since Hagerman NWR is on the southern end of the Central Flyway and close to the end of the Mississippi Flyway, it gets lots of traffic each spring and fall.

The spring migration is rushed. Birds travel quickly to get to their breeding grounds and claim the best territories. A few early migrants arrive in late March and the big rush is over by the second or third week of May. Within that period the individual species tend to occur in waves, each species having its own peak period of just one or two weeks within the 6-8 weeks of spring migration.

In fall, however, the situation is quite different. A few birds appear in late July but the last ones don’t arrive until November. For any particular species there may be two or even three waves in one season.

Breeding success helps explain the reason for these multiple waves. The first migrants are failed breeders and nonbreeders. Injured birds, young birds that didn’t collect sufficient resources to breed, and birds whose young were lost to predators head south early. We see them in July and August. Advantages to coming south early include fewer predators and less competition for food.

The adults who raised young will remain on the breeding grounds until their young are able to care for themselves. They take advantage of the long hours of summer sunlight to collect energy for molting and to store fat prior to their long flights. These birds usually begin showing up at Hagerman NWR in late August or September and peak prior to October. This is an interesting time to observe the birds as some wear breeding plumages that we rarely see.

The third wave is usually made up of juveniles who hatched during the summer and are making their first migrations. Since they used food energy for growth, they need more food than their parents did before they can store enough fat. They begin to arrive in mid-September and peak in mid-October, although a few slow-pokes will not pass through until November. Some overwinter at Hagerman NWR.

Take a few visits to the refuge this fall and watch the shorebirds moving through. Each visit is sure to show you different things and you’ll get all the challenge you could ask for in identifying the many birds that use our favorite fueling station.

Dr. Meyer will present a program on Shorebirds at 10 am on September 10 as part of Super Second Saturday at the Refuge. In the meantime, as he advises, take time to see these shorebird visitors for yourself.

Photo- Avocets, by Michael Haight

To learn more, see Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and Friends of Hagerman NWR.