Hagerman NWR: Missing the Northern Shovelers and Other Winter Migrants
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:1
Recently I visited Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (near Sherman, Texas — bordering Lake Texoma), hoping to see a lot of migratory birds, especially geese and ducks who visit wetlands for overwintering or for quick stopovers. Compared to prior visits, it was a major disappointment. Even the visitors center was locked, closed to visitors (with a posted sign claiming pandemic dangers as the excuse for the closure).
Possibly due to a year of drought, many of the large ponds were shrunken (leaving half-dried mud basins), demonstrating that water is the key ingredient for wetland habitats. The winter wheat was mostly consumed, so the population of snow geese was minimal. Dozens and scores of snow geese could be seen, but not the usual hundreds or thousands. An occasional Great Blue Heron could be seen. Meanwhile the oil pumps (“horseheads”) quietly pumped. Even the few ducks seemed bored.
The Northern Pintail ducks were few and far between. And, worse, I saw no Northern Shoveler ducks at all. Likewise, I don’t recall seeing the usual Green-winged Teals. Those shallow drought-dried wetlands must have been unattractive to most of the avian winter visitors, such as migratory ducks and geese.
So maybe this limerick can express my birding disappointment, that day, at Hagerman NWR:
DROUGHTS DISAPPOINT BIRDWATCHING AT WINTER WETLANDS
Hagerman’s a refuge of peace,
Fit for migrating ducks and geese;
Yet no shovelers were seen,
Nor teals with wings green —
Just some pintails, and a few geese.[JJSJ, AD2022-01-19]
Oh well, goodbye — maybe next winter will be better, for viewing winter migrants at Hagerman NWR.
Sad it is Lee, and we down here are experiencing similar with reduced numbers of waterbirds breeding and coming to their usual ponds.
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Thanks, but Dr. Jim wrote this one. He lives out in Texas. Would love to go to that National Wildlife Refuge, or any of them, for that matter. :(
Birding is really slow these days, as you well know.
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