Tulsa Audubon Society:
Winganon Park and Lake Oologah
(Rogers County, Oklahoma)
September 28, 2002
    About 10 of us gathered in Rogers County on Saturday morning and drove up to Lake Oologah to look for whatever was out and about.... which wasn't much.  We'd turned off the highway past the Winganon Park sign and were out on the lakeshore somewhere (I'm not familiar with the area, scanning a small island with the 4 scopes among us, and located TWO Caspian Terns (yearbird!) among the crowd of Franklin's and Ring-billed Gulls and Amer. White Pelicans standing around in the shallows.  There were Ospreys everywhere we looked (another yearbird for me, and from Tomye Mainer's notes, it looks as if the official trip count was 7 Ospreys), many of them with fish in their talons, flying about looking for a comfortable spot to enjoy their breakfast.  You know it's a weird birding day when the bird you're looking at is "just another Osprey."  Also, I like that Ospreys hold their fish so the fish can see where they're going.  It's a one-way trip, of course, but the idea appeals to my sense of whimsy.

     We also found one Pine Warbler in the willows which Pat Siebert said was unusual if not rare for the area.  (I have promised to write up the darn thing---silly me!---for the OBRC.)  We had quite a discussion about what that bird was---I was holding out for Yellow-throated Vireo---but in the end, after consulting every field guide we had with us, I concurred on the Pine Warbler.  You would've got SO tickled at my friend Brenda Carroll, who's recently become "serious" about birdwatching and who'd joined us on this, her second official birding field trip (and who documented our trip with these fine pictures): she had a Pine Warbler in her backyard in Bixby this past week, and from the get-go, after she'd had a good look at the bird, she said quietly, "Pine Warbler."  The rest of us pointed, argued, discussed, disagreed, consulted more books, shook our heads.... and finally agreed:  Pine Warbler.  Brenda was right, bless her heart.

     The highlight of the trip were the Barn Owls.  A few days before, Pat Siebert and Bruce Nixon (our trip leader) had scoped out an abandoned building at Winganon where they found 5 Barn Owls.  So on Saturday, they gathered our group together and gave us a stern talking-to about NOT slamming car doors, NOT chattering or making any undue noise as we approached the barn (or whatever it was) so as NOT to flush the birds before we all got to see 'em.  Duly warned, we approached the building in utter silence and didn't at first see the owls.  In fact, we whispered quietly, gestured cautiously, and walked well into the building before one of the birds showed itself.  Then another.  And another!  And they didn't flush! instead, they flew back and forth across the room in between the rafter, prchig to look at us, then flying back again.  One bird sat up near the roof with that Barn Owl hunch of the shoulders (see picture at right), calmly gazing back at us, and Brenda took its picture for us.

     I think we saw 4 owls altogether and got terrific looks at them, too.  Barn Owl was a lifebird for several in our group, including Brenda and Suzie Tramel (who'd mentioned as we left the initial rendezvous area---Judy, Brenda, and I rode with her---that she'd "like a lifebird today; Barn Owl would be nice!"  Well, she got her wish).

     It was a pleasant morning to be out and I think we saw about 35-40 species.
(c) copyrighted by C.Browning 2002
Pictured above are several field trip participants watching pelicans,
gulls, Caspian Terns, and Ospreys on the shore of Lake Oologah,
including (L-R): Suzie Tramel, Bruce Nixon (leader),
Judy Barto, Carolyn Nixon, Cyndie Browning, and Pat Siebert.
Osprey (with breakfast) by Bill Horn
Barn Owl by Bill Horn