Saturday, December 10, 2011

News from Santa Ana and LRGV NWR

Because of the drought, we are short on water at various places this season.  We know that the salt lakes can dry up at times and they have...even the fresh water areas are scant on water for the wildlife.  However, when we went out to La Sal del Ray before sunrise, we got a thousand Snow Geese with a few Sandhill Cranes that came in to roost for the night.  We went the evening before to see what was coming in to roost.  We counted 6000 sandhills as they flew right over us...where are they roosting now???  As we were busy watching the sandhills, the geese landed on the opposite side of the lake without being detected until I decided to scan before we left.  Not knowing for sure what they were as it was dark by this time, we decided to come back early before they left for the day to count them and make sure they were geese.  Upon our arrival, we saw these nilgai at the watering hole.

There were 5 of them but I cropped the picture.  Notice the beautiful colored ears and ankles.  I got off several shots before they took off.  Because of lack of water, no Eared Grebes.  There are just a few Snowy Plovers, and our Peregrine Falcon is back!!

Santa Ana (Willow) has been exceptional this season.  Last year we were flooded.  Pintail and Cattail Lakes are drawn down to get rid of the Alligator Gar that are present.  With the river pump being worked on, and getting rid of the gar, those two areas I survey have very little water.  I did discover two Mountain Bluebirds out at Cattail Lake.

We have Redheads, Canvasbacks, Bufflehead, and an Eared Grebe at Willow.  Very unusual.

Here are the Mountain Bluebirds, I hope they hang around for the CBC.

I'm standing in the middle of La Sal del Ray.  A first for me.

I am not surveying El Morillo for a while.  El Ranchito and La Gloria have tons of waterfowl and shorebirds AND VEGETATION making it frustrating with poor count.

There are tons of Ruddy Ducks.  Some have sighted the Masked Duck...I have not.  All mine have been ruddies so far but I keep looking.

An extra work day...we went out with our favorite biologist!!!

This season, I will be surveying Santa Ana every other week freeing up time for other things.  Jennifer talked with me yesterday to set up volunteer tours once again.
They will be offered twice a month starting January 11th.

Once Wallace's partner arrives, he will be doing other things for Imer.  In the meantime, he gets to accompany me.

We are now getting some rain.  Hopefully the salt lakes will have water and things will be restored.

See some of you soon!!!


  1. Makin me miss Santa Ana! I never did see Nilgai while we were there. Thanks for posting the pic, they really are pretty. Glad to hear you are getting some rain, hopefully all will be back to normal soon. We have had a little snow twice and are expecting rain/snow this week. Hopefully it doesn't get cold and turn icy. Keep up the good posts, really enjoy reading about what you've been up too. :D

  2. Wow - last year we were up to our ankles in mud! We never did see any Nilgai.
    I loved the volunteer tours! Hope to see yall out at Laguna.