Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Big Chill

Icy Refuge by Skip Hill
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge was iced in much of the first half of December, 2013, and when roads became passable once again, visitors found that the geese had headed for greener fields and the ducks had moved elsewhere also.  The wheat fields were totally frozen over, and there was ice on the marshes.  Even the birders stayed home and there was no Tuesday bird census, for December 10, 2013.

Those attending the Second Saturday program on Winter Waterfowl at Hagerman NWR got a great education from Dr. Wayne Meyer, but did not get to view the expected huge flocks of geese and the many species of ducks normally seen at the Refuge in December.

Then on Sunday afternoon about 3 p.m., voila’ – a large flight of geese soared over the lake and settled back in Big Mineral!  What a thrill to view!  Welcome home to our star winter attraction!  The numbers are not back to pre-ice levels, but on the December 17, 2013 bird census reported by Jack Chiles,  we see:

Snow Goose  1000
Ross's Goose  1000
Snow/Ross's Goose  2200
Gadwall  71
American Wigeon  67
Mallard  66
Northern Shoveler  96
Northern Pintail  145
Green-winged Teal  78
Canvasback  22
Redhead  28
Ring-necked Duck  3
Lesser Scaup  2
Bufflehead  6
Common Goldeneye  1
Hooded Merganser  27
Ruddy Duck  82

Geese in Flight by Johnny Beall
Hopefully the moisture from the melted ice and sleet will get the wheat growing again so that the geese can remain now at the Refuge until time to depart for the nesting season! 

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