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

                                                                     Turkey 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.