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Oklahoma Adventure

Fort Supply and Vicinity

Headed over to Woodward after Optima Lake, secured a motel room, then drove back to the Lesser Prairie Chicken lek OKBirder Jimmy told me about, just to make sure I could find it in the semi-dark!  Had no problem finding the road: made the turn, and I hadn't gone 50 yards before four big brown birds flushed from the road and glided over the field in front of me; I thought they were female pheasants at first, but as they landed they showed the tell-tale squared-off tails, with some dark smudging around the tip edges; they had to be the Lesser Prairie Chickens!!  Unfortunately I couldn't refind them, but good heavens, what else could they have been?!  Fortunately other OKBirders gave me backup on that one; had it been later in the season, however, young pheasants would have been a good possibility.

Continued on and found the overlook for the lek, which also looks to be a Prairie Dog town. Just for grins I continued on the road and zigzagged back to the main road and found some wonderful habitat that I couldn’t wait to bird the next day: some trees near someone's home had Bewick's Wren, Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, and what was probably a Red-bellied Woodpecker based on what was abundant at Fort Supply (the Golden-fronted looks to show up in the vicinity as well, based on Sibley, so I wasn’t sure). In a field also had what I'm presuming were Brewer's Blackbirds; according to Sibley the Rusties migrate through here, but I didn't see any females, and the song was that buzzy rasp I'm familiar with in San Diego (and Sibley says Rusties never do that).  So unless challenged on that one, that's what I'm assuming they were...

Headed over to Fort Supply Lake to do some reconnaissance, and just drooled at all the trees!  While getting lost around the campground area I found myself on an outside county road, which nonetheless led me to an access point of the actual WMA, which was luscious!  At one dead end was a lovely little marsh on the edge of the lake, where a pair of Carolina Chickadees and Blue-gray Gnats were mad at me!  Found my way back to the campground and just cruised around, catching an Osprey on a tree with dinner, and then at a camper's bird feeder spotted what was probably the best bird of the day: a White-winged Dove!  They aren't even supposed to be here!  The lake itself was pretty barren bird-wise except for pelicans, cormorants, and coots.


           Entrance to the park                                                          Access into the WMA


                Birds around the lake and campgrounds...                            Canada Geese                Osprey with lunch


                                White-winged Doves, a vagrant from Texas                    Robin in the dandelions   

                                          (at least according to Sibley…)   

And speaking of feeding, I was getting hungry, so I just followed the roads around, enjoying the scenery, and looking forward to birding this area first thing when things are singing!  The next morning I headed through the fog to the LPC lek, and while I couldn't see anything until the fog burned off, the air was alive with birdsong!  Picked up a new trip bird almost immediately when a Grasshopper Sparrow sang along the first mile, and I certainly didn't have to worry about missing Cassin's Sparrow: they were all over in this loop!  At the lek spot, I indeed heard the chickens on both sides of the road, but distant.  Taking the next road to the right got me a little closer, but you still couldn't see anything, which was fine; that's why I count heard-only birds!  They were sure fun to listen to!

Once the fog cleared I was able to check out some blackbird flocks; one such mob had gobs of Great-tailed Grackles with Redwings, cowbirds, and Brewer's thrown in (got a female this time, so I felt better), plus a handful of Yellow-headed Blackbirds!  An American Pipit called at one stop, but surprisingly had no larks along here (had plenty of Lark Sparrows, though!)  At another stop a group of about five female pheasants fed contentedly in a field with some cattle!  A Bobwhite sang in here as well, and the corvid mystery was solved: I assumed only Chihuahuan Ravens were out here, but there were plenty of crows about, and another OKBirder confirmed that they’ve spread as far west as Black Mesa! What really surprised me was get another pair of Great Horned Owls hooting away, well after sunrise!


                            Eastern Bluebird        Yellow-headed Blackbird                  Great-tailed Grackle

Headed on to Fort Supply, which was a little disappointing bird-wise: I assumed more things would be singing, but only had the regulars all along the entrance road and in the game area as well.  While stopped at the river, I heard a tremendous splashing and was wondering if some poor deer had fallen in, but it turned out to be not one but two male Wood Ducks going after a female!  At times all three of them were on top of each other (too bad they saw me before I could snap a picture...)!  On the way out of the game area was a house that had seen better days, but what made it a "Kodak Moment" were the two Turkey Vultures sitting on the chimney smack in the middle!

Back at the main part of the park, the White-winged Dove was still at the feeder, and I decided to walk around the campgrounds to see if I could kick up anything.  Like I said, it was here that the woodpecker mystery was also solved: they were definitely Red-bellieds!  Phoebes were making nests under the picnic shelters as well, and a Franklin's Gull flew overhead on the way out.  Drove by the dam where coots were packed in the bay, and poked down a road I didn't have time to do yesterday; it ended in a beautiful little secluded marshy area that had two new OK birds: Rough-winged and Tree Swallows.  Checked out the pelican/cormorant flock and saw that they had a few avocets and Ring-billed Gulls keeping them company.  The icing on the cake was on the way out, however: I pulled over for a Roadrunner hiding in the ditch and couldn't resist: I cooed at him, and he not only came out but hopped up into a tree, looking all around!  He cooed back and finally hopped down, cooed again, crossed the road behind me, cooed again, then did his "Beep Beep" routine and scooted across the road!  He was fun!


                            Fixer-upper with vultures...                      One of the many fishing spots at the lake


Marshes surround the lake


                                        More campground birds...                Red-bellied Woodpecker           Starling


Views of the dam


                                            Beaver Point                                                                            Hidden marsh


What a Roadrunner does when you coo at him...


             1. He’s drawn out of          2. He’ll hop up to a           3. He’ll coo back at you...                ...and then

                 hiding                                  high point to see                                                                     finally figure out

                                                              where this competitor                                                            he’s being messed

                                                              is coming from!                                                                        with!