Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rainy Day Memories

There is a “Five years ago” feature on the Featherless Flyer Archive page of the Friends website;  while updating the information for July 2007, we were reminded that on July 7, 2007, Lake Texoma topped the spillway, 640’ and areas around the lake, including much of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge,  remained flooded for several months.   According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the lake's highest elevation was recorded on May 6, 1990 at 644.76’.  The top of Denison Dam is at 670’ elevation.  This photo of Dead Woman's Pond was taken in August, 2007:

What a contrast to the summer of 2011, when the shoreline retreated a half mile or more as the drought wore on and on, and you could walk underneath Harris Creek Bridge! 

During the 2007 flood the Visitor Center could not be reached from the driveway off Refuge Road, but by walking from the parking area for the Audio/Visual Classroom and the maintenance area.  For many months after the waters receded visitors would remark on the dead areas on the cedar trees, where they had been partially submerged.  With Wildlife Drive under water, travelers had to find new routes around the Refuge, and who knows what kinds of adaptations were made by wildlife during that summer.

The Friends even received emails urging the Refuge to “do something” about the flooding. 

Lakeside areas were also flooded in 2008, and at the Refuge, fishermen were in in the wheat field near the Visitor Center and Refuge Road was looking like a boat ramp:

Waters rose again  in 2009, and  shown here, the finale for the historic kiosk that used to stand alongside Wildlife Drive, near the historic marker.

One more blast from the past, a youtube video of water going over the spillway in 2007!

In the Texoma area during rainy seasons and drought alike,  “What’s the lake level today?” is asked almost as often as “What’s the weather today”!

If you are interested in the history of the Hagerman area and Lake Texoma, plan to attend History Day at Hagerman on Sunday, July 29.  Drs. Jerry Lincecum and Peggy Redshaw will be on hand to facilitate sharing of stories, and representatives of the Friends of Hagerman  would love to copy any clippings or photos brought in, for the Refuge files.

Post by Sue Malnory
Photos by Dick Malnory

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Always Something at Hagerman

Post and photos by Skip Hill 

It was a typical Thursday morning at Hagerman and  my day to monitor the Bluebird houses on the Harris Creek Trail. I arrived around 9:30 and went into the Visitor Center to get the bucket of goodies we use for monitoring the trails. I had a relaxed and enjoyable time driving the golf cart along the trails while checking out the 35 boxes along the way. Finally I finished up and headed back to the Visitor Center to return the bucket and cool off.

It was now around 12:30 and  hot outside,  and I was getting very hungry. It felt very good inside the Visitor Center. I washed up and while I was enjoying the coolness of the air-conditioning I was visiting with Lee Hatfield, the Nature Nook volunteer for the day. She had a really nice camera sitting under the counter and being a fellow photographer I asked her about it. She told me a little about the camera and said she had gotten to the Refuge early to drive around and take some photos. Lee said she had gotten some shots of the Bar-Headed Goose. I told her I had never heard of that Goose and she said she had looked it up in the reference manual we keep on the counter and discovered that it was from India. No idea how it got here but here it was. We talked about it for awhile then she got busy with visitors and I was really getting hungry so I headed back to town. I had an errand to run in Denison before going home to eat and it was already 1:00.   I was almost all the way to Hwy 289 when I talked myself into
putting the errand off until tomorrow, holding off on lunch a little longer and going back to
Hagerman to find that Bar-Headed Goose.

 I was driving down Wildlife drive at 1:30 thinking how I never see the good stuff this time of the day and maybe I was wasting my time. Lee told me she had photographed the goose on Egret Drive so that’s where I turned. Way up ahead of me I saw, what looked like a Coyote ambling down the middle of the road. As I got closer it dove into the brush along the shore. I lost him but stopped where he went in and since it was a pad road I knew he couldn't go far. I looked along the shore and then out in the water and found him. The coyote had jumped into the pond and swum the short distance to the shallows on the other side. He looked like he was enjoying to coolness of the water but a little perturbed at me for being there.


I was very excited since I had never seen a coyote out on the pads. I took a few more photos before he got in the tall grass on the other side and I could no longer see him.  I continued on with my “Quest for the Bar-head” but got to the end of the road with no luck and headed back towards Wildlife Drive. As I got closer to the end of Egret Drive I noticed something in the road again and thought the coyote had returned but soon discovered it was a raccoon. It was digging in the gravel and eating something and not very interested in me so I was able to get some good shots of him.

I have been coming to Hagerman for a long time and this was the first Raccoon I have seen here. He finally got leery of my lurking around and jumped into the thick grass and scurried out of site. I had not found the Goose but had lots of new experiences so I was thinking it was time to call it a day. By this time it was pushing 2:00 and I had to get home. I quickly drove to Plover Drive in a last ditch effort to find him but no luck there either.

I headed up the road towards the Visitor Center and was just getting ready to leave when I decided to try Egret Drive one more time. I turned around and as I drove up the road, this one last time, a group of Cormorants drew my attention because they were doing the thing where they were all perched on a fallen tree out in the water and they looked like they were on bleachers watching a sporting event.

As I was photographing them something flew by that caught my eye. Oh my gosh! It was the Bar-Headed Goose! I looked up and saw it flying in a holding pattern over a group of Canada Geese in the pond near me and the Cormorants. The Cormorants looked as surprised as I was. I was able to get some quick shots of him in the air and then some more when he landed among the Canada Geese. I probably got 20 photos of him but couldn't tear myself away.   I finally stopped photographing and just sat there and watch as he dipped his head in the water and groomed himself along with all the Canada Geese. He looked like he was having a good time and I was getting tired of hearing my stomach growling at me so I headed home.

My family and I have been visiting and photographing Hagerman for many years and most times, just when you think there is nothing special going on and the wildlife is kind of slow, out pops something that makes it all worthwhile. 

Always something at Hagerman!

ED Note:  Hagerman NWR offers over 11,000 acres of wildlife habitat and the Friends of Hagerman sponsor a Nature Photo Club, with photo safaris, photo contest, and Photographer of the Month programs.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greater Roadrunner

Written By: Skeeter & Marolyn Lasuzzo
Photography By: Skeeter Lasuzzo

Have you ever been riding down a dirt road and have a bird run out in front of you and sprint down the road then dart to the side into the brush?  If so, it was probably a Greater Roadrunner and this situation is believed to be how it got its name.  The Roadrunner's home was originally in the desert southwest, but by the 20th century it had spread as far east as Louisiana and Missouri.

There are some interesting facts about the Roadrunner.  A Roadrunner will warm up after a cold night by fluffing its back feathers, exposing its dark skin.  The dark skin will absorb heat from the sun.  A Roadrunner can run over 20 miles an hour.  It is carnivorous, feeding on snakes, insects, frogs, and even other birds.  

Marolyn and I have seen a roadrunner crouch down below a small tree next to our bird feeder and wait for small birds to get a seed from the feeder and fly to the tree.  It would then leap straight up with lightening speed and grab the bird.  We have observed the roadrunner eat the bird feathers and all, but sometimes, we think when it was feeding young, it would pull all the feathers from the bird until the bird was featherless and head toward the woods with its prey.  Roadrunners have been known to capture a snake and beat it on a rock until it was dead.

The Pueblo and Hopi Indians believed the Roadrunner would protect them from evil spirits and early frontier people believed if you were lost and followed a Roadrunner, it would lead you to a trail.

We see quite a few Roadrunners at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  We watched this one continually catch insects and run into the woods only to return in a few minutes to catch more insects.  We think it was feeding young. 

ED:  Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Big Mineral arm of Lake Texoma, at 6465 Refuge Road.  The refuge lands are open daily from sunrise to sunset, free of charge.  Stop by the Visitor Center and Refuge Office, posted hours, for maps, printed wildlife and trail guides and other  literature and information.  The Visitor Center is staffed by Friends of Hagerman and other volunteers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Butterflies Topic for June 9

Want to identify those beautiful butterflies visiting your garden this summer?  You can learn names and identification tips at Second Saturday at Hagerman NWR on June 9.  Butterflies of North Texas will be the topic, featuring Dale Clark, founder of the Dallas County Lepidopterists’Society.  The program will begin at 10 a.m., in the Visitor Center at the Refuge, located at 6465 Refuge Road in Sherman.  The weather forecast for Saturday is “sunny”, in which case the program will include a short field trip on the Refuge to identify resident butterflies, like the Fritillary, below, photographed by Karen Skogsbergh, May 2012 Photographer of the Month for the Friends of Hagerman.

Clark is the creator of Butterflies Unlimited, a butterfly farm south of Dallas.  He provides over 50 species of live butterflies and moths to zoos and other exhibits throughout the country, and is the editor of the News of the Lepidopterists’ Society, the international newsletter devoted to the study of butterflies and moths.

Birding expert Jack Chiles will lead a guided nature walk on one of the Refuge trails at 8 am Saturday morning, weather permitting.  To join the walk, meet at the FOH Center at the Refuge and wear sturdy shoes; insect repellent is advised.  Participants may bring binoculars, cameras and field guides if desired.  The walk will end in time for the Butterfly presentation.

Youngsters ages 4-10 are invited to the Second Saturday for Youth program on butterflies, also on June 9.  This will be led by Katie Palmer, and will start at 10 a.m. also, ending at 11:30.  Children under age 6 must be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult!  To assure adequate supplies for each youth, advance registration is required; call the Refuge, 903 786 2826.

All Second Saturday activities are free of charge and open to the public. In addition to programs, the Refuge offers an 11,000 acre habitat for wildlife and wildlife viewing, with five trails and extensive driving possibilities, fishing, boating and more.  Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma.  For more information, call the Refuge or visit