Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in Review – Hagerman NWR and the Friends of Hagerman

  • January - The Friends of Hagerman excitedly opened online registration for BirdFest Texoma on January 1.  A grant was received from the Fort Worth Audubon Society for the purchase of binoculars to be used on Refuge tours. Pamela Porter was the Photographer of the Month; the Second Saturday program was “Amphibians of Grayson County”, presented by Dr. Michael Keck; for  Second Saturday youth the topic was was “Ribbit, Ribbit, Ribbit”.  Nest box monitors held a work day to refurbish boxes for the 2013 season.
  • February - Hagerman NWR celebrated its 67th birthday this month.  The new handicapped-accessible portion of Harris Creek Trail was completed, including a photo blind, and the printed Harris Creek Trail guide was updated for the Featherless Flyer, February edition, by Doug Raasch.    Dr. Wayne Meyer’s Second Saturday program on Owls was SRO; the youth topic was “Who Pooped in the Woods?” led by Andrea Gowans.   Bob Brown was the February Photographer of the Month.
  • March - Dr. Steven Goldsmith took Second Saturday participants on an armchair tour of Hawaii with his program, Birds of Hawaii.  Andrea Gowans led “What a Boar” for the youth. Karl Haller was honored by the Refuge for 50 years of birding at Hagerman NWR.  Kathy Whaley presented the State of the Refuge to the Friends at their annual meeting, March 23.  Outgoing board members Kay Casey, Peggy Harlan, Susan Knowles and Sue Malnory were recognized.  Harris Creek Trail entrance was improved.  Lee Hatfield was the March Photographer of the Month.  Special programming offered activities for children and families during Spring Break, March 11 – 15. Two weekends were set aside for the first permitted feral hog hunt at the Refuge. Jan Beckert became the new editor of the Featherless Flyer.
  • April - Plans for BirdFest Texoma ramped up during the final month before the event. Dr. David Baker presented “Extreme Weather on Earth and Beyond” for Second Saturday. Katie Merrick led the yout program, Fossils, Rocks and Minerals.  Charlie Hernandez was the Photographer of the Month.    Officials from the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Southwest Region traveled to the Refuge to present a plaque to the Friends, represented by Dick Malnory FOH Board president, board members and Friends,  as the inaugural honorees of the Friends Recognition Program.  Two weekends were set aside for the first permitted wild turkey hunt at the Refuge. Twelve interpretive signs were installed along the new loop of Harris Creek Trail.
  • May - BirdFest Texoma, featuring David Sibley and the popular Jonathan Woods Raptor Project was a huge success, thanks to Cathy Van Bebber, the fest committee, Refuge staff, presenters,  and generous sponsors.  Sibley led a field trip, signed books and presented a painting demonstration; the painting was sold at auction and the considerable proceeds went to the Friends for Refuge projects.  Plans were in the works for a floating tern “island” to facilitate nesting success for Interior Least Terns.  John S. Mead was the photographer of the Month. An all-time monthly record was set when 2122 folks were counted at the Visitor Center, and another records-breaker was the 108 bird species counted during the 5 hour bird census on May 7, reported by Jack Chiles.
  • June - Acres of glorious wildflowers and the nesting Pied-billed Grebes and Gallinules in the marsh areas were the big wildlife news this month. The first of two planned tern nesting floating platforms was set in place this month.  New directional signs showing the way to the Refuge were added on U. S. Hwy 82 and Hwy 289. John Scruggs was the Photographer of the Month.  For Second Saturday, TPWD Biologist Bruce Hysmith spoke on “Lake Texoma, Uncommon Fishery”; youth topic for the month was SSSsnakes, led by Master Naturalist Donna Rogers. A volunteer orientation and training was held on June 10 and five new volunteers stepped up to work in the Visitor Center. Jesse Trujillo, college student from Roswell, New Mexico, arrived to intern at the Refuge and assist in Dr. Wayne Meyer’s Grassland Research project and TPWD Dove Banding project.
  • July -Dr. Keith Kisselle presented “Global Warming” for Second Saturday while KXII Meteorologist Steve Lanore taught the youth some basic weather facts, assisted by Carol Hix.  The 4th annual Hagerman Nature Photography Contest, coordinated by Nature Photo Club chair Laurie Sheppard,  began accepting entries this month. Kevin Vaughn was the July Photographer of the Month. Visitors continued to enjoy watching the nestling Grebes and Gallinules thanks to the wetlands improvements made over the past two years at the Refuge.
  • August - A reporter from National Public Radio visited the Refuge to interview Karl Haller about his 50 years of birding there, and a KXII-TV reporter joined in also for a day of birding with Karl.  Dr. Wayne Meyer spoke at Second Saturday on “Bird Migration”.  No more Second Saturday for Youth; due to the need for additional meeting space for eht large number of attendees, the program was organized into two age groups meeting for parallel topics, as Youth FIRST and the August 3 topic was “Going Batty” led by Carol Hix and Sue Malnory.  Monica Babin Muil was named Photographer of the Month.  Refuge staff began spreading crushed red granite along Wildlife Drive, which should make it practically dust-free. 
  • September - September 8 marked the two-year anniversary of the Grand Opening for the New Refuge Office and Visitor Center.  Workampers Bill and Carol Powell, who made a special trip to the Refuge to assist with BirdFest, were welcomed back for the 4th year.  Geology instructor Rick Lynn spoke on Texoma Geology for Second Saturday, while the youth topic was Monarch Migration, led by Cindy Steele,  which brought out a record number of children and families.  Rick Cantu presented a Bowhunting Hagerman Seminar for archery deer hunters this month, also.  Photographer of the Month was Maggie Goodman. A Fall Volunteer Orientation and Training was held with a large number in attendance.
  • October - Shutdown!   Super Saturday and other planned events were cancelled, however the Refuge re-opened in time for the Fall Photo Safari, held October 26, and awards were presented to winners of the Nature Photography Contest following the safari – Donna Niemann received Best in Show, First Places went to Donna, Bob Brown, Carl Hill and Bill Powell.  Brian Kaylor was Photographer of the Month.
  • November -The topic was Deer for both Second Saturday, led by Rick Cantu, and the youth program, led by Martha Floyd and Andrea Gowans.  A record number attended High on the Hawg, led by Chair, Ron Varley, on a beautiful fall evening.  Roger Sanderson was on hand with plans for the proposed Butterfly Garden,  with dinner proceeds going into the project fund.  A major cold front led to cancellation of the Heard Photo Club trip to the Refuge the following weekend. Geese began appearing at the Refuge in mid-month.  The Friends gained a new Life Member, Trey Neal.
  • December -The month began with balmy weather which ended on December 5 with the Big Chill – the Refuge was iced in for a week, and Youth FIRST and group visits were cancelled.  Dr. Wayne Meyer presented the Second Saturday program, Winter Waterfowl at the Refuge, but very few stuck around during the week-long ice spell. Finally on December 13 the geese began returning to the Refuge.  The annual Christmas Bird Count was held on December 21.

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