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Oklahoma Adventure

Sequoyah NWR and the Nebraska Chase

Headed the back way to Sallisaw after that, enjoying the scenery and looking forward to Sequoyah NWR the next day!  However, that night I got the call to tear up to Kansas again the next day, so I made a real quick run through the refuge the next morning (since I had driven all the way down there to see it), and for a short run, there were a ton of birds, including several new, colorful species for the trip list!  It was very lush there and really reminded me of Louisiana, picking up Pileated Woodpecker and hearing both Fish and American Crows going at it! A little further along the road I heard a bona fide Kentucky Warbler: I was always afraid of not being able to separate it from the Carolina Wren, but now having heard that song "in the flesh", the warbler-ness to it was obvious! The place was jumping with sparrows, too: it was fun to get all three Zonies right in a row (Whiteys were the first to pop up, then Harris’ sang and later showed themselves, and then the Whitethroats were all over the place)! Savannahs fed along the road in the agricultural areas, and in the scruffy stuff picked up a couple of Lincoln’s Sparrows for the trip! In the fields themselves I was very pleased to spot (albeit distantly) several American Golden Plovers! At one of the rivers a young Bald Eagle sat out on a spit, and a beautiful Baltimore Oriole came in and showed off! On the way out his duller cousin, the Orchard, sang close to the car.

                 

                   Field Sparrow          White-throated Sparrow            Lark Sparrow pouring on the cuteness...

Scenes along the tour route...

 

           

                         Kerr Lake                                                    Marsh                           One of the many side roads to the

                                                                                                                                                    boat launches

Drove straight to Goodland, KS after that; I was gonna stop earlier and then meet Roger et al there the next morning, but I just felt prompted to make a reservation and head on in, and as it was it was just as well, because when I finally got ahold of Roger he was saying that the pattern was suggesting something further northwest (like in Colorado), so he talked me into driving out to his house, which was kind of an answer to prayer (one of those prayers where you’re not saying, "Lord, please grant this request," but rather, "Boy, that would be neat to see/do/whatever!") in that after all their family talk the last time I was really curious about seeing their home out in the country! So I finally got to, only we were socked in real good, and Roger wasn’t real hopeful that that would do us any good chasing potential storms! Tim came over later and said basically the same thing, and we ended up just hanging around the house till well after lunch time; Karen came home in the meantime, so we fixed sandwiches and chatted, then we all (including her son Colter--not sure if I'm spelling that right) finally decided to drive out to Lexington, NB, seeing as the cold front had pretty much ruined everything for that day. We ended up driving well into the night and finally got to the motel around 10:30! Listened to some good radio preaching in the meantime, so that helped to keep me awake!

    Following the Geek-Mobile into Nebraska...

The next morning we headed out to pick up John the Chiropractor (forgot his last name, which is par for the course these days), who was a native Nebraskan and had never seen a tornado!  This day’s setup looked much more promising (Roger even dared to use the word "outbreak"), and we were right in the "sweet spot", so we just hung tight until things started popping, and then took off! Somewhere in here (at least I think it was this chase and not one of the Kansas ones) a palish raptor lazily flapped from the side of the road into the field; I caught sight of black "wrists" and automatically called out "Rough-legged Hawk!" (not stopping to think that I was probably the only one in the van even remotely interested...), but this bird didn't have a dark belly band, and as I got a closer look (especially at the way it was flying), I realized it was a Short-eared Owl!

Unfortunately storms were getting sheared, and cells were merging into each other, and like the previous chases, even though "tornado warnings" were being issued right where we were, we never saw anything except a couple of wall clouds that quickly fizzled out and a little hail. In one gripping episode we were in the rain, east of the storm that was responsible for the TW, and Roger decided to go right into it, saying that if there’s gonna be a tornado, it’s gonna be right there! So we punched the core, but when we got in, there was nothing except a very low cloud base, and he could tell just by looking at the structure that there was nothing there. And then to add insult to injury, a mile-wide, long-lived tornado materialized in Kansas City (way too south for us to chase), which no one predicted, not even the "tornado gurus"! (They were calling it a "meteorological accident"!) So that was disappointing, but there was supposed to be another system come that Thursday.  I later decided to forego any more storm-chasing: I only had four more birding days left, and all four spots I had planned to go to were definite "must-sees" in my book!

                  

                  John the Chiropractor plays tennis with                       John and Roger check out the skies

                  Colter while waiting for storms to develop...   

    

Roger films what action we have...

              

              John and the storm                        We watch the radar images of a promising-looking cell

Headed back to Oklahoma the next day, making it as far as Blackwell and enjoying the talk radio shows (I must be getting lonely)! I was going to overnight in Heavener but after Jimmy’s advice I decided to go on in to New Boston, Texas, but I didn’t even make it that far! Stopped again at Sequoyah NWR for that paved one-mile nature trail to do as an exercise walk, and it was great: picked up a couple of new trip birds (Black Vulture and Indigo Bunting), so that was nice.

                   

                Horton Slough Nature Trail back                       Carolina Wren                           Hen Turkey

                            at Sequoyah NWR   

        

                                                    Gang of turtles                                            Suspension bridge over the slough