Wednesday, March 18, 2015

White-faced Ibis Flock at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge (and some geese too)

I took a short break at work this afternoon to see if anything was up at the Beckwith Road viewpoint for the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge. They have been plowing the refuge field where the corn feed was planted last fall, so I wasn't expecting to see many birds, especially since we are getting on into March. The Sandhill Cranes seem to be gone already, and the geese won't be waiting around much longer. Still, there are plenty of year-round resident birds, and I've learned that surprises can happen any time.

For instance, I stopped a few blocks short of the viewpoint because I saw a lot of birds at a different corner of the refuge and some of them were unfamiliar. I found a spot to park and walked to the fence and realized it was a large flock of White-faced Ibises (Plegadis chihi). I've seen ibises before, but mostly as individuals or in small groups. There were perhaps a hundred or more, heads mostly down feeding.
There were also several hundred geese visible in the distance. There were at least three species, the Greater White-fronted, Ross's, and maybe some Cackling Geese. It seems some of them still want to hang around.

I got frustrated trying to catch snapshots of the ibises (they kept their heads down while feeding), so I tried a short video instead. Enjoy!

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