Saturday, February 9, 2013

Waterfowl Survey

Teri and I do our waterfowl survey here at Laguna Atascosa each Wednesday.  We start each survey by playing "find the geese".  Last year we were able to sit on a paved road outside the refuge and watch the geese fly over each morning.  This year they have been more disbursed and less predictable.

This week we drove into the refuge before sun-up and parked near where we thought they roosted.  We heard plenty of "goose talk" in the distance, but once again most of the geese headed out in the opposite direction.  We were able to see huge strings of geese flying low over the trees, but we weren't in the best place to see them all.  We did manage to count over 7500 geese, so we're finding some of them!

We came across a group of Greater White-fronted Geese (aka Speckle Bellies) that were late-risers.
Greater White-fronted Geese
It didn't take them long to decide it was time to fly!
Greater White-fronted Geese flying
There is a lot of shallow fresh water on the refuge from earlier rains, so the ducks and waders are disbursed throughout the refuge.  We did find this attractive group of Roseate Spoonbills feeding near a road.
Roseate Spoonbills
Later we came across our first Texas Tortoise of the year.  Last year we saw as many as 25 in a day, but this year has started slow.  Perhaps the sunny warmer days will bring them out.
Texas Tortoise
Our final critter of the day was walking on the road as we were finishing up. At a distance we couldn't tell what it was, but we soon recognized an American Alligator.

American Alligator
We gave him plenty of space and he finally turned off the road toward a fresh-water pond.
American Alligator


  1. I love the roseate spoonbills.... well, I love the alligator and geese too, but think the spoonsbills are prettier ;-)

    1. The Spoonbills are definitely in my top five favorites. It's hard to imagine a pink bird.

  2. Does that huge alligator still live near Osprey overlook?

  3. WOW...25 Texas Tortoise in one day!!!

    1. There is a refuge road into a closed area called Horse Head Island. Last year there were so many tortoises on it that our main task was to spot them and not run over any!

      Hopefully we'll see numbers like that again this year.