Mary Beth Stowe's Website

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Oklahoma Adventure

Beavers Bend and Little River NWR

Pined away going through Ouachita (because I didn't have the time to explore it like I would have liked), but when I got to Beavers Bend State Park, I noticed they had a lodge there, so just for grins I rolled in to check it out, and it looked pretty nice, overlooking the lake! They were booked that night (family reunion), but they had a room for Sunday and Monday, which was perfect: I thought I might even be able to get some night birds! But for that night I found a little place in Broken Bow that wasn’t AAA but it did the job (a dead bolt would have been nice, but God’s angels are better than any dead bolt…), and had a laundromat right across the street, so while I once again I wasn’t able make it to a bona fide church (I was hoping I could catch Charles Stanley on the tube), I would at least be able to get laundry done and some supplies bought!

After checking out and doing laundry, I got supplies at the local WalMart and then headed over to Broken Bow City Park for an exercise walk and to try for the Brown-headed Nuthatches that nest there. It was a terrific little place with a nice paved walkway (another couple was making several laps), so I kept my ears open for squeaks, and interesting hear a sapsucker drum in the pine woodlands! (Berlin thought that was rather unusual, and so did I, frankly…) There was a spot where the path left the lake, so I continued on the dirt, and then hit pay dirt as it were: the nuthatch pair were in some kind of deciduous tree of all things, but being very cooperative! I continued my walk, and what should happen but the silly things (unless there was a second pair) followed me over and squeaked right over Jip in the parking lot!


       An exercise walk around Broken Bow        Tailless Brown   Eastern Bluebird   This is about the only place

       City Park produced some interesting              Thrasher                                       in Oklahoma you can find

                                   birds...                                                                                          Brown-headed Nuthatches!

The nice couple directed me to the library (which happened to be right behind the motel I stayed in) where Inca Doves were allegedly nesting, but I couldn’t find them. Decided to grab some of the wonderful local fried chicken, and headed off on a reconnaissance run to Little River, only I couldn’t find any obvious entrances except for a little dirt road off the main highway. I sat there and ate lunch, enjoying at least four male Indigo Buntings battling it out! After that I made a dry run to Red Slough to make sure I could find the place (which I did with no problem), then just headed north and tried to find some other entrances to Little River; ended up going clear into Arkansas and back! I did find one dirt road that bordered the refuge, and while things had definitely quieted down by that time, the habitat was wonderful, so I was hoping that I’d be able to get back there on the "official" birding day!

Back in Idabel I found a back road that looked suspicious and took that into Broken Bow, and it did indeed pass some pretty habitat, but no entrance to the NWR. From there checked out the state park, making plans for the next morning, and ended up poking around their nature center where there were several bird feeders being raided by titmice and chickadees! Outside, I noticed something poking around in the pines, which ended up being a Red-breasted Nuthatch! After that I checked into the lodge, and that was the first day I truly regretted signing up for the on-call storm-chasing, because this would have been a beautiful place to spend the Sunday Afternoon Crash! What a view I had! And so little time to enjoy it! L (And the Lord said, "Well, you could have crashed this afternoon if you hadn’t chosen to drive all over southeastern Oklahoma!")


                                        Broken Bow Lake                                                                View from my room

Birds around the park...



                Tufted Titmouse      White-throated Sparrow                    Foraging Red-breasted Nuthatches


                    Picturesque scene while wandering...                        Barn Swallows roosting on the lodge’s porch light

That night Berlin called me and offered to show me around Little River (and Mia, the gal who bands Swainson’s Warblers, had given me great directions to the place), which was great: I was gonna get into the woods early, and he was gonna call me later in the morning to set a meeting place.  Fine and dandy.

So the next AM said "Good morning" to the Barn Swallows gabbering away outside my door, grabbed a muffin at the lodge and started the drive-a-mile bit in the dark down towards the marina.  Taking the Blue Jay Drive to the end I hit pay dirt: off in the distance were two Chuck-will's-widows singing away!  It was just getting to be twilight about that time, so in short order other things started tuning up, such as Eastern Kingbird, Carolina Wrens, titmice, cardinals, and bluebirds.  A new trip bird, a Black-crowned Night Heron, "quarked" from the lake. 

Even though it was really too dusky to see anything well, it really got noisy after awhile!  Picked up both orioles at one spot, Yellow-throated and Black-and-white Warblers tuned up, and at the swimming area had a three-woodpecker stop (Hairy, Downy, and Pileated)!  On the way out a Swainson's Thrush sang his haunting song, and more Red-breasted Nuthatches tin-horned from the pines.  As it got lighter and I made my way around highway 259A, I was amazed at how productive it was: Pine and Nashville Warblers came in close, as well as a pair of Red-eyed Vireos and a single (and very cooperative) Yellow-throated Vireo!  The first House Wren of the trip showed up, and among the several Summer Tanagers singing a bona fide Scarlet sang as well, with his completely burry song, and he even threw in a pt-CHEW! for good measure!

Berlin suggested I stop under the spillway (where the state’s first Black Phoebe had been found recently), which I did, and added the Chimney Swifts and a very strange-sounding Parula, singing Witcha-witcha-witcha-ZEEZEE!  A Louisiana Waterthrush sang and "pinked" along the river, and a kingfisher rattled in the distance.  Dipped on the Barred Owls, but can't catch everything...  On the other side of the spillway added Cliff Swallows, and a Spotted Sandpiper made his stiff-winged way across the lake.


                                            Back of the spillway            Area where Oklahoma’s first Black Phoebe was found


                       Yellow-throated Warbler            Broken Bow Lake from the other side of the spillway

Somehow I stumbled upon the depot, where the Beaver Lodge Nature Trail begins, so I took a little of that, mainly getting an exercise walk and a beautiful view of the river.  At one campground a lovely Pileated came in, as well as a pair of Wood Ducks, and I also had a warbler singing that I'm truly stumped on: I thought for sure it was a Chestnut-sided, as it sang a bright, quick, Wheeta-wheeta-wheeta-WHICHyou!, as described perfectly in Sibley, but when I compared it to the Stokes recording, there was simply no comfortable match (and while the Hooded sounded right rhythmically, the pitch of my bird was way too high).  So that was one that got away... 


                      Scenes along the Beaver Lodge Nature Trail                        Beaver Creek


                                Two views of the Mountain Fork River                                                     Both species of crow

                                                                                                                                                     occur here, so since this

                                                                                                                                                     guy didn’t vocalize, I’m

                                                                                                                                                     hard pressed to tell

                                                                                                                                                     which it is...

It was getting later and I was getting antsy to get over to Little River before everything quit singing, so made a quick stop at the dam (Mountain Overlook) where there were lots of TVs and a token Broad-winged Hawk soaring in the thermals, then headed to the highway.  I just happened to check my phone to see how the battery was doing and saw that I had a "missed call" (I was probably in a dead spot as my phone never rang), and sure enough, it was Berlin!  So then I tried calling back and the guy who answered the phone was not Berlin, so I was hoping he'd try again and not think I stood him up! 

The phone never rang again all day (I was probably in a dead zone all day), but headed on over to Little River with what directions I had (had to ask the lady in the Pawn Shop where East Craig Road was), and Mia was right: unless you know how to get there, that place is hard to find!  Went down the first road off the blue building and Quail Farm sign (and ended up in someone's driveway; she warned me about that, too), but did find a tricky little road where I had several bona fide Hooded Warblers singing, plus a few Yellow-breasted Chats and plenty of Kentucky Warblers.  Didn't hear any of the coveted Swainson's Warblers (I braved the road as far as the cattle guard at the river, where daddy Black-and-white came in to pishing with his nose full of food), so headed out to the next road across from the church, and this one was terrific once it hit dirt: nice and wide!  I'm wondering if this is the "loop" Cyndie talked about in her OOS post, because the road did indeed loop around, and through various habitats I added Prairie Warbler in the more open areas, and the usual suspects in the wetter areas, but alas, no Swainson's.  Did witness a major brawl between three Red-eyed Vireos, however, and a Swainson's Thrush popped up for a minute, anyway!  Lots of Prothonotaries as well, and I'm amazed that with all the Kentucky Warblers I've been hearing, none have wanted to come out for a peek!



                Road through the Little River NWR             Indigo       Summer Tanager    Bog along one of the roads




                                        Black Vultures                                Bovine family poses in the flowers