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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The nearby treasure of Hagerman

Canada Goose family
Canada (not "Canadian") Geese
One day recently, a birding group at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge saw approximately  3,500 Snow Geese, 3,000 Ross's Geese, 125 White-fronted Geese, 125 Green-winged Teal, 125 White Pelicans, 100 Canada Geese, 100 Pintails, 22 Buffleheads, 30 Great Egrets, 16 Canvasbacks, and one adult Bald Eagle.  Plus lots and lots of the usual resident songbirds.        

Touring Hagerman N.W.F. by car, on their park roads, is free.  It's located about 45 minutes north of Denton on I-35, and about 15 minutes east of Gaineville - on the shores of Lake Texoma.

Snow Geese
Hagerman N.W.R.

For all but a few of us, West Nile Virus ("WNV") is not a big deal.  It's nowhere near as universally scary as the news media have hyped it to be. It's only a major concern if your immune system is poor, and/or you have a serious, underlying medical condition.

No, I'm not a physician (nor are news reporters), but I read voraciously and try to get the true facts behind things, not just accepting the media spin and hype.

I'm absolutely sure that there have been a few serious cases among the millions of people who live in north Texas (as there have been with colds). But the proven fact is that about 80% of the people who contract WNV, don't even know they're sick (they may just feel a bit tired or achy for a few days). Most don't even do anything like stay home from work or take some aspirin. (There have been just 13 cases this year in Denton County - a county of around 690,000 people)

Silly things like mosquito-spraying from trucks has dubious results and, some say, does more harm than good. However there are two things you can do to lessen the chance of getting WNV. First, make sure your immune system, and general health, is good. So your body can resist WNV naturally. Second, constantly empty any containers in your yard that hold even the slightest bit of water. Watering cans, flower pot saucers etc. Mosquitoes breed in still water. (Just put a non-poisonous "mosquito dunk" in birdbaths to keep them from breeding there.)


  1. Please identify the 40 birds that swept through Denton yesterday with a flock of 20 Robins. They are the size of Robins but resemble the Savannah Sparrow - White eyebrow, white wing bars, stripped breast - dark finch-like beak; colors are browns and grays. They are ground feeders and move as one when spooked by a noise and return as one to feed again.

  2. I really wish I could identify them without seeing them. Your description was good, but at this time of year (start of migration) it could be any one of hundreds of species. Maybe it's a native Texas bird- maybe its' one whose home is Canada and is just resting here mid-flight.