Sunday, May 21, 2017

052117 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Birding On a Shoestring: Life on the Oklahoma Panhandle

                                                              Wilson's Phalarope

                                                                   Stilt Sandpiper

                                                                Wilson's Phalarope


American Avocet

                                                                   Wilson's Phalarope

                                                                     Lark Bunting

                                                                 Western Meadowlark

                                                                      Lark Bunting

                                                               Long-billed Curlew                                                                

                                                                   Loggerhead Shrike

                                                                 Pronghorn Antelope

                                                                  Swainson's Hawk

                                                                        House Finch

                                                               Juvenile Say's Phoebe

                                                                    Bullock's Oriole

                                                                   Cassin's Kingbird

                                                             Female Bullock's Oriole

                                                               Male Orchard Oriole

                                                                Chipping Sparrow

                                                            White-crowned Sparrow

                                                           Male Pronghorn Antelope

                                                                    Say's Phoebe

                                                    Female Black-chinned Hummingbird

                                                       Male Black-chinned Hummingbird

Lark Sparrow

White Tailed Deer (Doe)

White Tailed Doe and Fawn (Left)

                                                                 Western Kingbird

                                                           Ash-throated Flycatcher


                                                                 Canyon Towhee

                                                                  Cassin's Sparrow

                                                                    Rock Squirrel

                                                                        Mule Deer

                                                        Black-chinned Hummingbird Nest


                                                                 Burrowing Owls

                                                                     Burrowing Owl

Friday, 05-12 through Monday, 05-15-17

This was a trip that I had been wishing for a little over a year, and when the opportunity arose,
my heart was filled with joy.  Photos were obtained from the entire panhandle of Oklahoma, which encompasses Beaver, Texas, and Cimarron counties. It holds a wide range of important ecological regions in the state, which makes it an unusual area for western and eastern birds to converge.

We observed long and shortgrass prairie regions,  pinyon-juniper habitat, sagebrush wild lands, brushy chaparral, mesa tablelands, Rocky Mountain foothills and rock mesa faces.  With these diverse and desert lands came a remarkable and wide range of mammals and birds, most of which I had never encountered before.

Unfortunately, I managed a quick look at one small lizard common to eastern Oklahoma and Texas and met a common garter snake.  I had hope for a prairie rattlesnake, but that wasn't in the cards for
this trip.

Many birds were seen but not photographed, like the Common and Chihuahuan Ravens and Prairie Falcon.  The Lazuli Bunting and Marsh Wren were heard, along with the Common Poorwill and Western Screech Owl.

As you can see, many beautiful mammals were captured and many birds indigenous to the region, but many more were not.  Perhaps this will create a need for a future trip, but it took nearly a day to get
here.  The journey was well worth it, and it enriched my first trip to this most important birding area.

These are lands that must be protected at any cost, for our grassland birds are in danger.  We have seen great decreases in their presence over the years and the fight for their survival is great, including the Lesser Prairie Chicken.  We must make saving their habitat a prime endeavor and you can help by donating to the cause and not buying homes here or destroying this habitat in any fashion.  Please help me help THEM.

Perhaps you will enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  If you have an interest in this area, which I believe you will after seeing these striking animals, you can help by spending time at Black Mesa State Park and the Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast caters to birders at the Black Mesa Tableland region.  Many ranchers raise cattle here and are helping to keep the ecological region alive and well.  I tip my hat to these people for this and support their efforts.

                                                               Red-headed Woodpecker

                                                                     Black Vulture

                                                              Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Monday, 05-15-17

The grand finale before the return trip home was in Woodward county, just east of the panhandle.
These were all species found at home, so they were just for the fun of it, and one last hurrah.  We tried for the Barred Owl, who was not co-operative, but she had young in the nest hole, so it wasn't her fault.  Our timing was poor.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

For the Betterment of Birds, Featuring Our Guest Eurasian Native, the Ruddy Shelduck

                                                                 Ruddy Shelduck

                                                                  Warbling Vireo

                                                                  Least Sandpiper

Tuesday, 05-09-17

Naturally, the highlight was this beautiful example of the Eurasian native, the Ruddy Shelduck.
Since 2004, a number of examples have presented themselves on North American shores, and inland, which is quite normal.  However, it is improbable that this duck crossed the Atlantic Ocean.  Even though it is  most likely with the Canadian reports, again, it is doubtful.

Research has gleaned that there are numerous breeders of exotic waterfowl in the US, and escapees do occur in certain cases.  It happens upon occasion with zoo animals, as well as others in private collections.  I strongly believe that it is an escapee, just from the simple fact that all of these birds have been found within a few hundred miles of breeding facilities.

This example of the Ruddy Shelduck is the only one listed on eBird that has been photographed, to my knowledge.  It happens to be an excellent example of what COULD be a wild bird according to people that reside on the Asian continent.  There are exotic breeding facilities in Iowa and Mississippi, which are both likely areas from where this duck might have originated.

The high concentrations of the birds found in Canada most likely originated at the facility in Michigan.

As we will likely never know exactly where these birds came from, it is interesting to note how many
birds do share the world with us.   For naturalists, birders, and ornithologists, it makes sharing our space with other species such as these so enriching and empowering to know that we have a small understanding of them.

The other birds shown, the female Warbling Vireo, and the Least Sandpiper, were brought to us by
the graces of nature.  In your travels and conversations, help me help them by doing a small part in eradicating trash on their land and water, protecting their natural environments, and saving and promoting the organizations that speak for them and do them justice.

Thank you for reading, and happy birding to future generations through your generous donations and assistance.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 2017 Has Started Out As the Best Spring Migration Over the Past Five Years

                                                                  Least Flycatcher


                                                                   Forster's Terns

                                                             Female Yellow Warbler

                                                                Greater Yellowlegs

                                                                 Lesser Yellowlegs

                                                                 Clay-colored Sparrow

                                                              Male Orchard Oriole

                                                                    Least Flycatcher

                                                                  Nashville Warbler

                                                             Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

                                                          Black-crowned Night-Heron

                                                                   Cedar Waxwing

Green Heron

                                                                    Canada Gosling


                                                                  Great Blue Heron

05-02 through 05-06-17

Cedar Waxwings have arrived to take advantage of buds, fruiting flowers, and the multitudes of
mulberries, which have begun ripening.  I know this, as I have been watching the berries and actually ate a couple of them right beside some Yellow Warblers.  Another tidbit for you is that mulberry bushes become mulberry trees in just a few short years, which is why you can get hordes of fruit-
eating birds.  Try it and you'll see for yourselves when you have an increase in waxwings and warblers.  Since the Middle Atlantic and a few northeastern states are still on the chilly side, some of
these birds have been with us a little longer.  Our mornings have still been a little cooler than normal, but I just as soon have these photo opportunities as long as possible.  Not only that, there is a remote
possibility that if these birds are held up too long, they might just decide to start breeding here.

Monday, which was May Day, was the coolest morning of the week, which we touched on last photo posting, and that was a relatively good morning for migratory birds.  Thursday the 4th was an outstanding morning.  I believe I had 62 species on that day, and they were practically dropping out of the trees.  Warblers were quite plentiful, Clay-colored Sparrows were everywhere, and shorebirds were still enjoying puddles, especially the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Our first empidonax flycatchers, the Least Flycatcher, was plentiful and a  allowing for some excellent photo ops.  A juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron rested for a short time at Heron Cove.  This bird wasn't driven out like an adult would be.  It wasn't seated far from a breeding aged Green
Heron, as a matter of fact.

Birding was still good, but slowed up a little at the end of the week, but there were a few good things
that still came along, like three Red-headed Woodpeckers at Boomer Creek, one of which managed to grace Boomer Lake proper, and we have a pair of beautiful Great-crested Flycatchers eying the largest snag on the north end of the lake.  They lost the thinner snag at the wood's edge last year, but I'm pleased to note that they were not deterred by that.

We have peaked with eight Forster's Terns for the past several days and there are still plenty of Franklin's Gulls passing through the area.

Our Bell's Vireos have also returned to their nesting grounds in our area, and one is already courting
a young lady...

Due to the fact that conditions have been quite good this spring with plenty of water, there is plenty of food for the birds, and we should have a wonderful crop of rough leafed dogwood berries in short order for discriminating palates.  Migratory action is still going on, so keep your bins and spotting scopes handy and see what else we can find in Payne county during the spring of 2017, which is the best conditions that I have noted over the past five years.