Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hagerman NWR: April 2015

I've been wanting to make a visit to Hagerman Wildlife Refuge for a few months now. After getting a tip from a fellow member of the Heard Nature Photographers that the egrets there were in breeding plumage, I decided the time had finally come. So on Monday, up I went on a quest for wading birds.

Scarlet Ibis, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
The refuge has a great auto trail that goes all around the southern shore of Lake Texoma, including out onto a number of oil well pads.  Birds like this White-faced Ibis don't care about the oil wells.  They care about the wetlands being preserved around them, and how much food they can find there.

EDIT: I'd originally identified the bird as a Glossy Ibis.  Greg Lasley corrected me on iNaturalist!

"Note the red facial skin. This is a White-faced Ibis not quite in full plumage yet. Glossy Ibis still quite rare in Texas, but they have gray (not red) facial skin and a different pattern to the face border."

American White Pelicans, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
Zak and I saw flocks of American White Pelicans flying north in formation on Sunday afternoon.  Monday, there were hundreds of them at the refuge.

American White Pelicans, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
I like the symmetry of the two birds flanking the one in the middle.  I do wish the one in the middle was facing the camera.  But the butt shot is interesting in its own way.

American White Pelican, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
I hope this fellow was able to relieve his itch.  Honestly, I don't even know if it's a fellow.  Pelicans all seem like boys to me.

Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
I hit a real jackpot, not surprisingly, on Egret Road.  One pond was draining into another through a three-foot cascade, and it had created a very popular feeding ground for several Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets.

Snowy Egrets, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
There was inevitably some competition between the assembled birds, which created some terrific photo opportunities.

Great Egrets, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
Interestingly, the flare-ups never seemed to be between species.  Only within species.

Snowy Egret, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
Bad plumage day?  Punk egret?  Caption options abound.

Great Blue Heron, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
One Great Blue Heron stopped by, but didn't stick around for long.

Great Egret, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
I could have stayed at this spot all day.  Every few minutes, someone would move which would trigger someone else moving which would cause someone to take flight.  There'd be some shuffling, then things would settle down again for a while.

Cattle Egret, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
Eventually I did drive on, passing by a lone Cattle Egret.  If he was looking for some cattle, he wasn't exactly looking in a promising spot.

Little Blue Heron, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
I spotted a Little Blue Heron on the branch of a dead tree as I was driving by.  So I turned the car around and pulled over while he let me catch him "smiling."

Scissortail Flycatcher, Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
One final pullover -- to shoot this Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, who lived up to its name by flying off periodically, grabbing an insect on the wing, and bringing it back to this branch to eat.

I spent three hours in the refuge and didn't make it very far in at all.  So I've saved myself plenty to see for my next visit!

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