Friday, May 24, 2013

Birding San Bernardino NWR

Eric Writes:
Greetings from Chiricahua National Monument,

For six days, in the last couple weeks, I conducted bird surveys in San Bernardino NWR with a team from Fish and Wildlife.  San Bernardino is east of Douglas, AZ directly on the border of Mexico.  It was the pilot year for the surveys so none had ever been conducted.  Our first day was spent training; which involved teaching everyone the protocol and the birds.  Through the rest of the time we worked in teams to conduct the bird suveys.

The border fence at San Bernardino NWR

The refuge is open to the public but only to walk-in traffic, so our ability to drive through the refuge certainly helped us learn the birds and lay of the land.  If you have to walk in, it is over a mile to get to the good riparian areas that are full of birds.  There are also many small, man-made, marshes scattered throughout the refuge that support many bird species that are uncommon throughout the region.  Tropical Kingbirds, Green Herons, and many other marsh birds use all of these small ponds.

The RV we were able to stay in while working at
San Bernardino.  Many Scaled Quail, Lesser Nighthawks,
Eastern Meadowlarks, and Say's Phoebe were around
Many birders don't bird on the refuge because of the lack of access; instead they bird at Slaughter Ranch on the southeast corner of the refuge.  A few years back, Slaughter Ranch hosted two Blue Mockingbirds; which gives birders lots of hope when birding the area.  Some of the other avian highlights included daily Gray Hawks, Zone-tailed Hawk, Varied Bunting, Crissal Thrasher, Greater Pewee (as a migrant), and many Yellow-breasted Chats and Bell's Vireos.  The non avian highlights included a Regal Horned Lizard, a Coachwhip snake, and the endangered San Bernardino Springsnail.

The Regal Horned Lizard; it was awesome to hold this guy!


Anonymous said...

I'm fascinated by lizards; I wish we had them here in Michigan. When we were birding in the southwest last year I kept getting distracted by the little lizards scurrying around everywhere.

Your bird list for the survey makes me want to go back out there for some more birding!

Karen said...

Hi Rob! I met you at Biggest Week on one of our bus trips (lady with the brace :). We are thinking of volunteering at San Bernardino NWR this winter and the manager said he didn't want to disappoint us, but there were no birds in the winter?? what month did you do your bird survey there? at this link: it mentions all 4 seasons are good for wildlife and there are plenty of birds listed I haven't seen. We will be in AZ Jan-April 2015 and would love your opinion! thanks -- Karen

Eric Ripma said...

Hi Karen

There are more birds overall from spring-fall but winter is still a fairly good time there for birding. The surrounding area can be very good in the winter too. April is a good month when many birds are returning but there are a few species that are later migrants and don't arrive until May. I did surveys out there in mid-May and it was very good. Plus, it's a great place for a Mexican vagrant to show up!