By Chris DeCesare
On Saturday, March 23rd a group of 20 enthusiastic participants explored the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. From the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, we caravanned to Tschache Pool, May’s Point, the East Road overlook, the Sandhill Crane Unit, Carncross Road, and the Montezuma Audubon parking lot. Overall, we saw 29 different species of birds and one mammal. Highlights at the May’s Point stop include seeing a Woodcock sitting in the snow next to the parking area and a group of 40 Great Blue Herons in the marsh. We guessed that they were gathering prior to forming pairs for mating. An assortment of ducks were also seen here: Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked ducks, and Gadwalls. On East Road overlooking Knox-Marsellus Marsh, most notable were the thousands of Snow Geese, including some blue-phase, spotted in the fields along with Tundra Swans. At the Crane Unit, we spied a few hundred muskrat lodges and muskrats who were happily munching. Here, we added a pair of Wood ducks to our list and got a great look at a juvenile Bald Eagle flying over the marsh. Though we had seen Sandhill Cranes flying over at some of our previous stops, the best look came at the Carncross Road area where they landed in a field adjacent to the saltmarsh. It was also here that we saw four Greater Yellowlegs foraging in the mud of the saltmarsh. Overall it was a great day for sightings and a lovely day was had by all!
Here is the list of species for those that are interested:
Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Mallard, Black duck, Northern Pintail, Wood duck, Snow Goose, Canada goose, Tundra Swan, American Woodcock, Hooded Merganser, Gadwall, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Sandhill Crane, Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Harrier, Common Grackle, American Crow, Ring-necked duck, European Starling, Black-capped Chickadee, Song Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Greater Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Killdeer, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, and muskrat.