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All photographs ©2005

Oklahoma Adventure

Red Slough WMA

It started spitting, so I chose that time to head to Idabel, get my motel key squared away (I found a real nice motel there; I think AAA dropped the ball on Idabel as they have nothing listed), and do another zip through Red Slough, going in the north end.  It spit on and off, but even so had a ball birding the roads: lots of sparrows around, including Whiteys, Lincoln's, Savannahs, and a single Swamp.  Managed to get a hike down to one of the observation decks and added an upset Green Heron to the trip list, but other than several singing grebes and a distant pair of Gadwall, that was pretty much it for that walk.  Zigzagging the roads in the more open areas had another singing Upland Sandpiper, and several stunning Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. In one guy's yard was a Chipping Sparrow, so I was glad to have seen the two sound-alike trillers (at least to my ear)!  The last bird of the day was a hummer that went tearing across the road (that I'm assuming was Ruby-throated this far east)!  I basically hung around that area until it was time to go back to pig out at the Chinese restaurant I saw on the way to the motel... J


                                                        One of the many dikes at Red Slough                  Lincoln's Sparrow


                        White-crowned Sparrows                                                      Flowers...


                                                            Primrose                                    Spider Lilies


                                            Mob of Spider Lilies                                                            More fields of flowers


                            Bobcat pausing in the road                        Fuzzy Yellowthroats

The next morning David Arbour very graciously offered to take me onto the back dikes of Red Slough, so we met in the north parking lot and (against his better judgment) I followed him down the dike in Jip.  Worked out okay: he was concerned about the quality of the road after last night's storm (golfball-sized hailstones just north of there), but Jip did fine, although I was concerned about him collecting enough grass on his undercarriage for a brushfire!


               David Arbour, who works for Fish and                         David hunting for our quarry, the elusive

               Game, opens the gate so we can drive on                                            King Rail!

               the otherwise inaccessible dikes    

But it was just a delight to be back there, and we picked up the usual songsters right at first (he pointed out a bluebird pair that were nesting in a box behind the sign), plus a Bell's Vireo on the way down the first dike.  When we parked and looked around at the first corner, a pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks wheeled past; a good sign, he said!  Unfortunately the wind started picking up, and the birds were less than cooperative at first; we did have a distant Moorhen, and a Krider's Hawk sat like a beacon on a distant tree.  We had both yellowlegs, and flushed two new trip birds as well (Solitary Sand and Snipe).  We kept thinking we were hearing an Uppy Sand, but it turned out to be a chat making a very Uppy Sand-like call....

It was great to hear Sedge Wrens (we had heard Marsh Wrens at the parking area), and at the next corner we took a pretty good hike looking for bitterns.  Lo and behold a harsh, gutteral sound revealed one of the coveted King Rails fairly close!  Soras were all over once the wind died down, and we even managed to hear a couple of Least Bitterns (David mentioned having three at once one time, with the middle bird being a Cory's!  Now that would be cool to see!).  A mama Pied-billed Grebe left her nest as we approached, and you could even see the eggs! 


                                  Pied-billed Grebe nest                                            Savannah Sparrows


That pretty much did me in for the walking, but back at the same observation tower I was at yesterday, we walked down that dike a little to a field in hopes of Bachman's Sparrow, but heard nothing but chats and vireos (the wind was starting up again).  On the way back down the dike a sharp song caught my attention, and when I caught up with David he had heard it, too: a Northern Waterthrush!  He said they got pretty thick along in there during migration, but I was tickled to hear it sing! He also pointed out a Club-tailed Dragonfly to me, and I startled a little frog that he ID'd as a Leopard.  He also enlightened me on the weird flowers I had seen yesterday: Spider Lilies!



                                                   Leopard Frog                                Club-tailed Dragonfly


After that we headed over to Ward Lake to look for Anhingas, stopping for a Swainson's Hawk (which was rather unusual this far east) and a flock of sparrows that included White-crowned, Lincoln's, and House (!).  At Ward Lake (which was an area I didn't get around to checking before: it's west of the main refuge road), David thankfully knew the people who lived right next to it, and we could walk right up to the gate; by scoping, we did spot one Anhinga, plus a pillow-like White Pelican, and a handful of Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  Also had a Red-headed Woodpecker here, and a pair of Little Blue Herons flew in as well.



      David poses by Ward Lake, about               Yellow-headed               Little Blue Herons         Eastern Kingbird

      the only place in the state you can                  Blackbird

                      find Anhinga!


I really had to take off for Lawson after that, so so we said our goodbyes and I left David to his surveying; it was a long drive, but I was glad to be settled in!  I thanked him profusely over the listserv; had a mess of new state birds (and a couple of write-ins) thanks to his hospitality (and the Lord’s doing, of course)!