Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Yesterday I was able to spend an entire day devoted to it, and it far exceeded my expectations. My day (and count) began at 8am, after having breakfast in Coalgate, Oklahoma just in case anyone showed up to do the Lake Atoka CBC, which no one did. I really didn't have the time to go out and "shake the bushes" for help. I think there were also some weather issues in the north which may have hindered participation. No matter, it was nice to be out and in the silence, something I've needed for some time!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Oh Yeah the Geckos love 'em, juicy...wingless....easy prey!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The "Turkish" or "Mediterranean"Gecko is still alive and doing well. Having found a home in my daughters aquarium, it seems somewhat content. My wife and I can feel at ease for keeping this wild creature for two reasons....1) it's an invasive species and 2) we have taken to describing the whole scenario as a "science project" Call me cruel if you want, but I'd like to see you explain to a three year old as to why "Joe" has to be let go! Not wanting to leave "Joe" all alone in the much too large enclosure I took a late night post at our front door a few nights ago. About a week after we found the first gecko, my wife saw two more. I thought it was only appropriate to find Joe a friend. So finally after a late night studying and checking the front porch my patience paid off at 1:30 am. Now Joe has a friend! For which we have no name. So here is my challenge, think of a name and email it to me. On Sunday the 19th I will announce the winning name, of course I am the sole judge, and I will be sure to let everyone know who it was that came up with it. Cheers....
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Just in case you missed my report from the meeting http://okwba.blogspot.com/2008/05/meeting-of-ornithologist-in-mobile.html
I was really surprised by all of this when Cindy contacted me, and certainly honored after sifting through some of the past recipients. I've met a good many of those past honorees and a few like Berlin Heck, John Sterling, and Kurt Meisenzahl were the first to invite me out "birding" in Southwest Oklahoma for a day. You should have heard Berlin when he saw the little pair of Bushnells I was carrying at the time. Hey what can I say, I was a broke ,soon to be father, college student....wait a second, nothings changed! Well.....all except for my equipment.
But hey, isn't that what it's all about?
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Last weekend I took the opportunity to head to my favorite portions of Oklahoma, the northwest and panhandle. My goals; fix my personal truck that has been sitting in Laverne for a year, visit a few marshes and look for new ones to add in far western Oklahoma for next year's marshbird season, and visit the Selman Ranch IBA and Cimarron Bluffs WMA to get data on Lesser Prairie Chicken fence marking. Goals in place I moved out and arrived in Laverne Saturday mid-afternoon.
My truck wasn't exactly the first thing on my mind when I got there. Actually it was to go and check a few marshes and playas before the sun went down. I quickly scoured the Laverne lagoons which usually provides something (the best being a Western Grebe a few years back), and then moved on to a slough just east of Laverne. For some reason both locations were pretty slow and uneventful, not one to give up so easily I headed north. Precisely seven miles north to a small pond (the same pond that I found American Avocets nesting at this year...can you say new county record!). This little hot spot gave me plenty to look at, including Wilson's Phalaropes, Black Tern, numerous species of duck, both species of Yellowlegs, some Least and Semi-palmated Sandpipers and a few other odds and ends, much better than the last two stops. Satisfied I headed back to Laverne where I dined at the local pub ("The Rusty Bucket") and then found myself slipping into my sleeping bag at the Prairie Chicken station for some much needed rest!
The morning came around and I ignored it for a short time, and then got busy getting my truck running. It was actually much better off than I had figured. A tank of new gas, some gasoline additive, air in the tires, and a quick jump and the old beast was running again. Not bad considering it hadn't been started in at least a year! Well it was almost a winning situation, I had forgotten to get my tags renewed, so a little bummed I moved on, with nothing but birds and marshes on my mind. Onward and West to the panhandle I traveled.
I spent a great deal of time checking possible marsh locations on the map, mostly in Texas and Cimarron Counties, I have a pretty good handle on the spots in Beaver County. Fortunately many of the playas are full at the moment so of course I couldn't pass those by. I still have yet to find a rail in a playa or bittern for that matter......it would probably make a pretty good study for some Master's student though. Even the very large playas were full. I got fooled into watching a Stilt Sandpiper for a while, thinking for a moment that it could have been a Curlew Sandpiper but good light finally put that quest to rest. Probably my best playa bird were two dowitchers, one a good looking Short-billed still in breeding plumage, very worn, but the golden tones along the scapulars and wings were a sure thing, the second bird never moved and had it's head resting along it's back so I never felt good about a positive on it.
White-faced Ibis were abundant my total for Texas Co. was 13, Cimarron held approximately 27+ that I know of and judging by the amount of water there were probably many more scattered throughout the county. I spent the evening in Kenton after I had received a phone call from Berlin Heck telling me about a Calliope, and Rufous Hummingbirds at a feeder, both good birds for the state. I stayed at the hitching post, which gave me a good opportunity to follow a semi-dry stream bed for a couple of miles. There were plenty of cattails but I'm not sure that it was dense enough cover. Birds were slow around the mesa and my efforts to find really suitable habitat around northern Cimarron county fizzled out, which means I probably won't survey there next year.
Monday morning after a nice breakfast I started my way back to Lawton but not before I got a call from Steve Metz, Kim Wade, and Dan Robinson who were checking playas east of Boise City, I joined them for a couple visits and picked up my lifer Western Wood-Pewee at a small abandoned farmstead turned fallout zone. After that I put my foot down on the gas, arrived at the Selman Ranch three hours later, got my fence marking data, checked out the new Cimarron Bluffs WMA for a short while and then got back to Lawton at 1am. Just in time to get enough sleep for Chemistry class at 8 am!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Looking for nests in the dark is not exactly easy. It can be a little unnerving when ever there are two big, orange gator eyes staring at you from less than a hundred yards away in the dark. I would check his position ever five minutes or so, I think it was as wary as I was because it eventually moved out of sight. You know all those years of watching scary movies about attacking gators and sharks doesn’t help you feel at ease in the dark on open water in gator country. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to locate any nests on Bittern Lake, so my tally stayed at one for the evening after having located a Moorhen nest on Lotus Lake with 9 eggs.
My evening companion has shown back up, presumably after a short hunt on the backside of my tent. A bit of a unnatural setting for the guy, but I think he has been pretty successful with his novel approach and use of a man made structure as hunting grounds. That’s it for now, on to bed.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
had a good photo of these guys, I'll have to work on that, they really are in impressive species.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
So I have been at the Red Slough in McCurtain COunty Oklahoma for 4 days, which is why I haven't posted anything. Unfortunately the accomodations at Beck Basecamp were laking an electric plug and internet service(see photo). They weren't short on bugs at night or birds during the day though. Actually the observasation platform was a great place to camp, and it kept me up and away from those ferocious little fire ants. Unfortunately it's a place that is not open to public camping. I was given special permission to camp there while doing my surveys. But don't let that stop you from going to check this place out. The more time I spend there, the more I like it. So for those of you that don't know. McCuratain County, Oklahoma is down in the far south-eastern corner of the state, it shares a border with both Texas, and Arkansas. Its far enough in to the "deep south" that it actually has alligators!
Alligators were constantly on my mind this weekend, but I'll save that for later. Beck basecamp was actually very comfortable and enjoyable. Fortunately it was a beautiful weekend and I slept without the rainfly on my tent, which was nice when viewing the stars, and catching a soft southern breeze. But, one evening it did start to drizzle, which is why the rainfly ended up on the tent by the end of the weekend. Oh, well. I enjoyed the view and the breeze while it lasted. Sounded nice though didn't.
My surveys are in the morning and evening, so a couple of the days I spent a few hours sitting and counting birds on the two lakes that I was camping between, Pintail and Lotus. This was actually also very productive in that I gathered a great deal of information and better uunderstanding on the movements of the Common Moorhens and American Coots, and yes these are rails also, between the two lakes. So during my time hanging at my own personal deck party I did see some really fun birds. Highlights from those day time counts included approximately 300+ Black Terns all feeding on Lotus Lake. They would skim around the surface picking up midges and other things I suspect. After a while they would all start circling skyward, clumping into one large drifting dark cloud of beauty. Oh, it was wonderful. Even better when I was out searching for nests on the lakes in my canoe and I found myself among the mass of feeding individuals, now that was cool!
Yes I did try to get photos of these guys while in my canoe, unfortunately I am not a photographer. Other fun birds where Anhingas, Neotropical Cormorants, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and the occasional Least Bittern either heard or seen to the east of my camp in one of the units packed solid with Spike Rush. On the story goes!
Saturday while searching for nests on Pintail I felt like getting some sun, so off came the t-shirt. Bad Idea! Ouch, can you say nasty sunburn. Yeah I know.....sun screen was invented for a purpose. Mom I know you are reading this, and I can picture you saying exactly that at this moment! Sunburn aside it was a productive couple hours, unfortuntaly I only located a couple of Pied-billed Grebe nests (photo on the left), which would total six by the end of the weekend. This is no big deal. They are actually pretty easy to spot, a floating mass of vegetation that sometimes resembles a nest. The only rail nest that I actually got a good look at was this Common Moorhen (right photo) nest that David Arbour pointed out to me. He had located it a few days prior. If you look at the eggs, you can see how different they are from the Pied-billed Grebe, which has no spotting, and is a completely different color, unless the egg has been stained by the wet vegetation in the nest (so the spots you see on the left are nothing but staining or pieces of dried vegetation, you can see the difference when compairing the two photos). Good things to know when you're out looking for specific species, and their nests.
Nests were on my mind alot this weekend. There are a couple of species that have never been found nesting in McCurtain County or the Red Slough. Hopefully I will be able to locate them and add to the knowledge of these species ranges. One such species is the Virginia Rail. I did find two adults birds, that were associating with one another. David and I looked for a nest for a little while but came up empty. I'll be back down in a week or two and should be able to locate the nest then...hopefully. David described our search as looking for a needle in haystack, so that gives you some idea as to the difficulty. Another rail that I am looking for nests for is the American Coot. I know that sounds crazy, but there has never been a confirmed nest at the Red Slough. I searched in vain for a while, but never found one. This maybe due to the fact that the vegetation in the lakes is still very short. Reference books say they like alot of cover to conceal their nest, right now the Slough doesn't have that much of it in their lake units. But soon enough they will, and then look out.
Well I've rambled on enough I suspose. I'm home and have errands to get to. I'll get some more of the story posted later. Bye for now.