|What a grand trip we just had! I think it was one of our best trips to western Oklahoma. We birded for six days without stopping (or so it seemed!). We had a total of 124 species for the trip (and I got 52 OK year birds! Melinda had more, but I don't know her exact count).
On a cold and windy afternoon (Friday, 3/2), Berlin Heck and I picked up Melinda Droege in Tulsa, and tried to bird Lake Yahola and Keystone Dam, hoping for scoters. We came up empty at both places. The wind was so strong, we could hardly hold our scopes in place, and the lakes were extremely choppy. But we started our trip list with various ducks, including Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes, etc. (we had 18 duck speices for the whole trip, plus 5 goose species). We then drove to Woodward, where we spent the first night, and met up with Kurt Meisenzahl and Wendel Long. They had located the Lesser Prairie-Chickens that evening. The next morning, we were off to Laverne, hoping the chickens would be in the same field. Sure enough, there they were, on their lek, dancing up a storm. Must have been 40 or more. They were on a ridge, and as we were scoping them, we noticed the heads of Sandhill Cranes behind them, just peeking up above the ridge. The cranes finally moved into view, and we had a better look. But the Lesser Prairie-Chickens stole the show!!
We headed west through the panhandle, stopping here and there and everywhere! Hundreds of ducks were visible from the dam at Optima Lake, which certainly pushed our duck list up higher. All the Redheads and Canvasbacks were nice to see. At Sunset Lake in Guymon, we saw Cackling Geese, and a Ruddy Duck which we had not seen yet. More ducks were at Keyes Sewage Pond, but the best birds were Chestnut-collared Longspurs coming in for a drink. A large flock of Snow Geese got up in a field far off, and Berlin said it was a Golden Eagle that stirred them up (of course, we don't always believe what Berlin says!!). But we drove fast and furious around the section lines, and found the geese back on the ground, but no eagle in sight.. (We saw a lot of Northern Harriers on our trip, and they all were males! We didn't see any females until we were at Hackberry Flat)
We picked up pizza in Boise City and headed toward Kenton to the Black Mesa B&B. Clarence and Susie Ruby were already there when we arrived, so we all had pizza for dinner. Of course, we had to warm it up, because it had been sitting in our car for 2 hours. The next morning we were up early, and after Vicki's wonderful breakfast, we birded around the Mesa area all day, seeing Mountain Bluebirds everywhere, a Townsend's Solitaire, Bushtits, Scaled Quail, Ferruginous and Rough-legged Hawks, 8 or 9 Prairie Falcons, a Merlin, Curve-billed Thrasher, Black-billed Magpie, Canyon Towhee, etc. It was a beautiful sunny day, and no wind for a change. The air and sky were so clear!
We had brought our crock pots and had made stew (Susie's good recipe) that morning, so we had our dinner all ready for us at the B&B when we got back. Vicki had made cornbread, plus 2 pies. Yummy! After dinner, we listened for the Western Screech-Owl, and not only heard it, but saw it sitting on a branch near us.
The next morning, we birded the Mesa area again, picking up a few birds that we had missed the day before, such as Western Scrub Jay and Golden Eagle (this time, there was no doubt about the eagle!) The Rubys stayed for another night at the B&B, and we left around 1:00 p.m. for SW OK, via the Texas panhandle, arriving in Eldorado, OK, around 5:00 p.m. (We had not found a pheasant the whole time, and just before the TX border out of Boise City, a Ring-necked Pheasant flew across the road, narrowly missing being hit by Kurt's car!) We had time to look for the Verdin in SW OK, so Kurt took us on a wild ride through the countryside, ending up in the wrong field, but it turned out for the best, because we met all the land owners around there, and they couldn't have been nicer. So we got permission to go into another field, but we couldn't arouse any Verdins. We tried until dusk, and then drove back to Quanah, TX, for the night. John Sterling had met us in Eldorado, so he joined us for a couple of days birding in that area.
The next morning, we went back to the place where we had tried for Verdins the night before. We were about to give up, when one flew in and perched on top of a small tree right in front of us. Perfect! We then concentrated on the other specialties of that area, getting Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. We then tried for McCown's Longspurs, east of Duke, but no luck there. Only saw a Ferruginous Hawk and a close look at a Merlin.
Our next stop was Hackberry Flat. Kurt joined us there (he had gone home to Lawton the night before), and soon, Lou & Mary Truex arrived, and they took us on a super tour of the wetlands (and we thank them so much). We saw 6 shorebird species, a huge number of Cackling Geese with White-fronts mixed in, lots of ducks, including a couple of Cinnamon Teal, 2 Great Horned Owls, and Burrowing Owls at a prairie dog town not too far away (We had seen 2 Barn Owls earlier). It was a great afternoon at Hackberry! We then followed Kurt to Lawton, as the sun was setting, and we saw 2 young Trumpeter Swans on a pond, which he had known about. Great way to end a perfect day!
The next morning (3/7), Kurt arrived at our motel, and took us to a little park, where he found a White-winged Dove for us, and then an Inca Dove flew up to a fence, so that was a bonus. Our year lists were growing! Thanks, Kurt! We then followed him to Lake Lawtonka, where we viewed hundreds of duck species in good light at Robertson's Landing, but couldn't find the Western and Clark's Grebes. After awhile, Kurt took us to another part of the lake, and Berlin thought he saw the grebes out in the middle. We stopped, got our scopes out, and there they were----3 Western and 2 Clark's Grebes!! We were on a roll. We also saw Eared and Horned Grebes there, besides Pied-billed---a 5-grebe day!! We followed Kurt up Mt. Scott, and we got Canyon Wren and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. What a great guide Kurt is!!
Berlin, Melinda, and I headed north to Tulsa around noon, stopping at Keystone Dam, but not finding any scoters. We did find a nice Thayer's Gull below the dam, and it was great to see the Bald Eagle on the nest across the way. Melinda heard a Pine Warbler, so our trip list was getting higher. We tried Lake Yahola again, but nothing. By that time, it was getting late, so we left Melinda (she drove home to Bartlesville), and Berlin and I drove to Ft. Gibson, where he then drove to his home in Broken Bow. We were exhausted, but happy. We had seen so many good birds on the trip, and had a great time!
Sorry this is so long. I got carried away!
Ft. Gibson, OK
|BLACK MESA, OKLAHOMA
by Jeri McMahon
March 8, 2007
|L-R, seated: Melinda Droege and Susie Ruby; standing: Wendel Long, Kurt Meisenzahl, Berlin Heck, and Clarence Ruby|
|OKie-Birder Jeri McMahon recently posted a report to OKbirds about her trip to Black Mesa, and graciously permitted ADimView.com to reprint the report here. Enjoy!!|
|photo by Jeri McMahon|