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Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge…a magical place.  About an hour north of Allen lies a wonderful little wildlife refuge.  I refer to it as one of my “happy places”.  It is a protected area on Lake Texoma filled with trails to hike, roads to explore, and wildlife, wildlife, and more wildlife.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (HNWR) is a wonderful home to migratory birds and all kinds of wildlife. It is in Grayson County on the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma, on the Red River just between Texas and Oklahoma.

Something about oil derricks. Don’t know what it is, but I love to photograph them when I’m out at Hagerman.

I don’t get to visit it as often as I’d like to, but when I do, it’s nothing short of spectacular. This last visit was especially magical because I was finally able to locate Lucy, the well known Bald Eagle that frequents the refuge.

I have seen (and photographed) a Bald Eagle one other time, but not because I was searching for it.  I was hiking near Lake Lewisville, saw a large bird flying above me, and zoomed in to take some photos.

When I was reviewing the photos to see what kind of hawk I had just taken a picture of, I realized I had actually just photographed my first Bald Eagle.  Sadly, I only got one decent shot, but I’ll take it.

Not a Bald Eagle, but I never tire of seeing these beautiful Great Blue Herons on the shorelines fishing for something yummy to eat.

On this last visit to HNWR, I was hoping to see Lucy.  After all, that was my main reason for going.  I had been hiking around all morning, and made it all the way to Meadow Pond and had not seen her.

As I was heading back, a nice couple on the trail noticed my camera and mentioned that Lucy had been spotted on the utility pole near the oil derricks.

I picked up my pace and headed that way.  By the time I made it back to the main road near the utility pole, Lucy was gone. She hadn’t gone too far though.  I could see her out in the middle of the lake resting comfortably on a log.

I zoomed in with my lens (a 100-400), but it didn’t have quite the reach I needed for this shot.  A nice 600 mm would have been perfect, but I don’t know many people who can afford that lens.

So I shot what I could, and as you can see, they’re pretty grainy and blurry.  But hey…clear enough to see that it is in fact a Bald Eagle, right??  

Won’t ever be a picture I’ll frame, but it will be one I remember.  Lucy stayed on the log for a good 20 minutes, and I stood there in awe.  What an amazing sight.  

So beautiful and majestic.  And for me, here in Texas, a pretty rare sight.  And now I could head home – so many beautiful things to photograph out there.  I was pleased with what I had seen and photographed already, and topping the visit off with a Bald Eagle sighting…well, doesn’t get much better than that!

I was reading up on Bald Eagles on the All About Birds website. For those of you that need a refresher, I read that the Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people for far longer than that.

These regal birds aren’t really bald, but their white-feathered heads gleam in contrast to their chocolate-brown body and wings.

Look for them soaring in solitude, chasing other birds for their food, or gathering by the hundreds in winter. Once endangered by hunting and pesticides, Bald Eagles have flourished under protection.

If you’re in the area, I highly recommend visiting Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  You can take an auto tour and not even get out of your car.  Even remaining in your car you will see some amazing wildlife. And watch for things darting across the road if you’re there in the early morning.

On one of my visits, Pumba, or something that looked like Pumba from ‘The Lion King’ movie ran across in front of my car, and I had to stop so quickly that my camera slammed into the floorboard very hard.

Needless to say, I was not able to take anymore pictures on that visit – my camera had to be sent in to the shop after that adventure.

If it’s hiking you like, take the trail to Meadow Pond.  It’s so peaceful.  And there are many other trails just like this one.  You’ll feel like you’re in another world.  

Is biking your thing?  Then bring your bike.  On this last trip, I saw 2 people on road bikes, one person on a mountain bike, and 2 people on Vespa scooters.  

I think my next adventure will include a Kayak.  I found out on Sunday that you can drop kayaks in at different points on the lake and in the river.

How fun would that be?  Time to buy a kayak, I guess.

And be sure to stop in at the visitor center too.  Usually, the nice people working there can direct you to the cool spots where they’ve recently seen Lucy or any other interesting wildlife.

Until next time…

P.S. Picture below is the one I got when I was hiking near Lake Lewisville a year or two ago. I’m hoping to get an even clearer picture of Lucy sometime soon!

The links below will take you to two wonderful books about Bald Eagles titled 40 Years from the Brink of Extinction: America’s Bald Eagle by John D. Chaney and Inside a Bald Eagle’s Nest by T. Gorrow & Craig A. Koppie.