Sunday, April 24, 2016

First Time Seen At Boomer Lake, the Neotropic Cormorant

                                                                  Cedar Waxwing

                                                                   Tufted Titmouse

                                                               Great-tailed Grackle

                                                       Neotropic Cormorant(foreground)

                                                             White-crowned Sparrow

0710-1030 hrs./62-74 degrees F/partly cloudy/light and variable winds to 17 mph wind gusts

It is said that there is a first time for everything, and the highlight of this week was finding a
Neotropic Cormorant on Boomer Lake.  This bird is found year round in the southern and
southeast portion of Texas, and can summer in the southernmost sliver of Oklahoma.  It migrates
through Oklahoma and can rarely be found slightly north of here.

The Cedar Waxwing has been in the area for quite some time this year, feeding on seeds and berries,
like the mulberry, found commonly in the south.  They tried the fruit of the western soapberry tree, but I observed no real interest in it, as it was discarded.  Once I had tasted the fruit, which tastes like
soap, so I can understand why it was not ingested.

The White-crowned Sparrow shown here is one of the East Taiga subspecies, which has a pink

042416 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Friday, April 22, 2016

Getting in the Groove of Spring with the Neotropical Migrants

                                                                 Baird's Sandpiper

                                                               Kansas Glossy Snake

                                                                   Barred Owl

                                                                  White-faced Ibis

                                                        Yellow-rumped Warbler(Myrtle)

                                                                      Green Heron

                                                                 Cedar Waxwing

                                                                    Female Gadwall

                                                                       Blue Jay

                                                                  Harris's Sparrow

                                                                Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

55-67 degrees F/partly cloudy/light and variable winds

The first four photos are a carry over from my time spent in the western part of Oklahoma.  Sadly,
I was unable to capture a Cassin's Sparrow, which was in the area and the prairie dogs and Burrowing Owls were staying undercover.

Upon my return home, I was still greeted with rain, which came from a front that infiltrated Texas
and western Oklahoma first.

As you can see, I still was able to get some good photos over the past couple of days, which made the wait well worth it.   A Neotropic Cormorant has been at Boomer Lake for several days.  The Baltimore Oriole and Warbling Vireo are now home as well as one member of my Green Heron family, the eldest.  I believe this one is a grandparent, one of the original settlers of the Southern Cove.  Last year, that art of the lake hosted two families.  So we shall see what this summer brings

The female Gadwall pictured here was all by herself, taking up with an American Wigeon, some Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, and some American Coot.  Observed yesterday was another male Wood Duck, so perhaps he will get used to my presence and maybe I'll be fortunate enough to see some young on the creek.

There are plenty of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, at least a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers, and at
least one Yellow Warbler on the lake proper.  A Common Loon was spotted, which I thought I saw a couple of days ago with a raft of Double-crested Cormorant, but dismissed that thought.  I guess I was right after all!

Onward and upward!

Monday, April 18, 2016


Never forget that we need nature, nature doesn't need us.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Meet the Rare Grassland Prairie Lesser Prairie Chicken

                                                             Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
                                                                    in lichen nest

                                                                       Wild Turkey


                                                                Lesser Prairie Chicken

                                                                       Horned Lark

                                                               Male Prairie Chicken


                                                                Eastern Meadowlark

                                                                   Male Prairie Chicken

                                                        Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel

                                                                Male Prairie Chicken


                                                            Deflated Sac of Displaying
                                                           Male Lesser Prairie Chicken

                                                                   Sac Filled with Air


                                                                         Full Display

                                                                            At Rest

                                                                   Jumping Display

                                                                Displaying and Calling

                                                  Territory Face-off Between Two Males

                                                                     "In Your Face"

                                                 Most Likely Owner of this Lek Territory


50-52 degrees F/partly cloudy/27-34 mph winds/45 degrees wind chill

Today was the best of all three days that I was attending the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival.
It had been extremely arid, so much so that wildfires have been fought all over the dry
grasslands in the OK and TX area.  It did not rain today, but it was predicted for tomorrow
and Sunday.  Fire is not always negative for these birds, but it isn't particularly helpful at
their critical mating season.

At approximately 0545 hrs., just prior to sunrise, we were set up in a permanent metal
blind and within a half hour, we could hear approaching male Lesser Prairie Chickens
approaching the lek, which is an area where males gather to display to entice prospective
female partners.

It was most likely that females were on these grounds prior to sunrise, as the males were in a
state of frenzy.  No females were on the grounds during daylight, and we saw approximately
ten males.  They performed various rituals trying to entice females to come around and were
calling and cackling, as well as fighting with each other for the top position.  One male was
the owner of this territory, and was not prepared to give it up.

This is a very rare bird, even in its home states of both Oklahoma and Texas in the arid
grasslands with low shrubs, including sandsage and shin oak, as well as other natural growth.
They form flocks in the winter and may be found in agricultural land as well as natural native

However, humanity is the boon of this beautiful bird, which is rapidly losing ground, due to
oilfields, wind turbines, and construction of homes and businesses.  An already rare, local and
declining bird like this will not be available for future generations if we keep taking their homes.

These birds have been a threatened species since March of 2014, and their population decreased
25% from 2014 to 2015 alone.   Help me help them through the National Prairie Chicken Initiative

Friday, April 15, 2016

Plenty of Migratory Birds Are Here For Your Viewing Pleasure

                                                               Lincoln's Sparrow

                                                                       Lincoln's Sparrow

                                                                  Savannah Sparrow

                                                                     Least Sandpiper

                                                                      Canada Gosling

                                                          Female Northern Cardinal

                                                                      Male Wood Duck

                                                                   Pied-billed Grebe

These were photos from the first part of the week, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  The
sparrows are an assortment, some of whom are current migratory inbounds, like the Lincoln's
and White-throated Sparrows.

The Least Sandpiper was located on the southernmost jetty on the east side, and on the same day,
a couple of Franklin's Gulls and an American Avocet were observed on the west side of the lake,
right across from the first jetty mentioned.

The Wood Ducks surprised me, as I saw two males, and know of one female, who must be with
eggs at this stage.  I am hoping that this second male is also paired,  both of which were located at
Boomer Creek.  A few Blue-winged Teal, a handful of American Coot, a couple of Mallards, and a
Pied-billed Grebe or two are usually out there with the occasional Double-crested Cormorant and
Great Blue Herons, who are also nesting.

There are also Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and plenty of other birds, including the Osprey, who I hope will say in the area.  The creek is very active during this time of year, with many cavity nesters.  I have observed the Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, and practically all of the woodpeckers working on a cavity of some kind.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Another Day In the Life of Songbird Central

                                                                Ring-billed Gull      
                                                                     First Cycle


                                                                 Great Blue Heron

                                                        Yellow-rumped Warbler(Myrtle)
                                                                   Breeding Plumage


                                                               Female Black Swallowtail

0825-1130 hrs./65-75 degrees F/partly cloudy/25-30 mph wind gusts

These shots were from yesterday and today.  Even though today had some eventful winds that
actually pushed me backward, it was still a remarkable day for birding.  For the first time this
year, the Osprey came to visit.  One tends to find Ospreys where eagles reside, so this seems
to show that our American Bald Eagles find this a worthy place in which to live.  Since they
still visit the lake, it appears to me that they have young this year, a banner event.

Yesterday, I heard the Marsh Wren on the north side of the lake in the reeds and rushes.  It
never came out, but I had noticed something in the grasses in the past.  It had been filled with
song yesterday, hence the positive ID on the bird.

Yellow-Rumped Warblers are all over the area, but the Song Sparrows are moving north now.  There are still a few hangers-on, and the Savannah Sparrow was recently seen, too.  We still have plenty of Harris's and Field Sparrows, AND even though they will soon be covered, we do have at least one breeding pair of Eastern Meadowlarks.  It would be nice if they could raise a clutch, but their field usually gets mowed.

Another Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was observed today, and one Cattle Egret was seen just east of
Goose Island.

There are at least two broods of Canada Goslings, one of five and another of three young.  I was
told that there was a single gosling seen with its parents recently, so there will be more coming.
Killdeer eggs have also been laid, more male Mallards are out and about than females, so the hens
are likely on theirs nests, too.

There had been large rafts of Pied-billed Grebes, Ruddy Ducks, Blue-winged Teal. and Northern Shovelers this morning, but once the wind subsides and they are well-rested, they will be on their way, too.

Let the spring and summer games begin, as we are ready!