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“Horicon National Wildlife Refuge – Fall 2022 Waterbird Blog
This is week four of waterbird surveys at the refuge for the fall migration.
Survey numbers for all species were nearly identical to last week. That is atypical for fall migration trends over the last decade. Nice weather and weather pattern changes from the hurricane may have paused a southward shift of birds.
Less geese were counted on the refuge this week. Nearly 14,000 were counted – most of them loafing/resting in the middle of the marsh. Soybean harvest is in full swing creating more available feeding areas for geese and cranes.
Dabbling ducks were most numerous on this week’s survey –around 16,000. Top species seen in the thousands were Northern pintails, mallards, green-winged teal, American wigeon, and blue-winged teal.
Others seen in the hundreds included gadwall and Northern shovelers. Less than 100 wood ducks and black ducks were counted.
Diving duck numbers continue to be very low – around 100. Species seen included ruddy ducks, redheads, ring-necked ducks, a couple lesser scaup, and a couple buffleheads.
Other sightings to note:
Look in the last impoundment along the auto tour (right side) – Over 2,000 Northern pintails have been staying there for the last several weeks. It’s a great opportunity to see closeups of large flocks.
Sandhill crane numbers are increasing in the area – watch for flocks in the hundreds in farm fields – especially along the east side of the marsh. Stop at Bud Cook Hiking Trail during the first 3 hours of daylight to see them flying overhead as they leave the marsh.
Shorebird use continues in the first impoundment along the auto tour (along the right). Greater and lesser yellowlegs, dowitchers, and killdeer can be seen in good numbers.
The best closeup viewing of waterfowl is along the auto tour. Ledge Road continues to have the greatest variety. This week 20 different species were spotted there. Travel down Ledge Road that enters the marsh and look along the north side. Also, check out the first impoundment along the auto tour on the right side. Shorebirds and waterfowl use have increased with the lower water levels.”