Friday, November 29, 2013

Beavers Bend State Park Autumn, 2013

Talimena Drive Fall 2013Talimena Drive Fall 2013Beavers Bend RV SiteBeavers Bend Fall 2013Beavers Bend Fall 2013Beavers Bend Fall 2013
Beavers Bend Fall 2013Beavers Bend Fall 2013Beavers Bend Fall 2013Beavers Bend Little Mt. RiverBeavers Bend Little Mt. River

Some more gorgeous shots of the color this fall @ Beavers Bend State Park.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oklahoma Autumnal Tour - Part 3

Beavers Bend State Park

November 11

I've heard of this place (and the Talimena Trail) ever since I was a small tyke, and the ladies making oooo's and aaaaah's over the beautiful fall colors on the Trail and in the Park.  My whole memory of this state park was of patrician elderly women sitting discussing the colors and how magnificent they were/are.  So I expected to see great color.  The other reason to visit, is that for years, I've heard how wonderful the park is - one of the state's jewels in the crown of state parks, so an autumnal tour to me wouldn't be complete without a visit here, and since we started in the upper northwest of the state, it seemed logical to end in the lower southeast, and I do mean the very tip of the lower southeast part of the state. 

The drive in was through part of the Talimena Trail.

OMG - I couldn't believe we are driving through, I'm just elated that I haven't missed the color.  There's been so much beautiful color throughout the state, that I was hoping we hadn't missed it.  Of course this was a gorgeous sunny day and the color didn't disappoint.
 But I'll be honest, as we arrived, I had no idea was what ahead of me.  The country here is so different from other parts of the state, it's hard to believe we are actually in the state, and yet we are.

 The other surprise we had as we entered the state park, was crossing one of the many bridges we notice some water fowl and came back after we set up the trailer, and here were some wonderful hooded mergansers.  I've loved these ducks ever since we discovered them in Yellowstone, and they are on the river constantly.  
 Lady Hooded Mergansers aren't as pretty in colors, but these two babes are not quite sure what to make of Walt.  Apparently he has the mergansers mesmerized!
 Even just driving around here is enough to bring out the color in nature.  This area is really beautiful.

 Having a professional agronomist around is very handy, because after some extensive professional investigation and research, we have discovered the main culprit for all this color.....and here it is documented so that you can easily see.  Not only are the leaves participating in this blazing scandalous show of color, but so are the bugs, as noted by the snail trails on the leaves!!!

Back to some wildlife.....on our trip up to the Talimena Trail, what should we discover but a full grown, mature Bald Eagle on the side of the road, overlooking the lake just on the other side of the road.
 They are naturally very suspicious and he is just on the border of being too far away, but you can still see that wonderful patrician look - "I'm much better than you and don't you forget it!"  And to prove it, he immediately flew off about the time we were to get a little closer!

 Equally as elusive are the Blue Herons, but this one stood still beautifully for us in the sun so we could catch his beautiful plumage.

 These are photos around our campground (Fern) which we loved.  It's like having a whole acre to yourself - well almost - you could fit 2 RV's on either side of us.  The downside is that these sites are difficult to get into because of the culvert on the other side of the access road to the campground, which means lots and lots of back and forth to get the angle just right.  So it takes a while, it's worth it for us.  The other hook-up campgrounds (there are none with sewer), are flatter and more modern (a cement slab) but are closer together.  But for our money, we loved having all the room and the view was unparalleled.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oklahoma Autumnal Tour - Part 2

Sequoyah State Park

November 8
We decided to put this on our Autumnal Tour only because this summer we were talking around the campfire at Greenleaf, and a couple of folks mentioned that they work in Ft. Gibson, and every day when they cross the dam to go to work, there are Bald Eagles.  We really didn't think that we could do much good, but we thought we'd give it a try as it would make a nice break from Great Salt Plains to our next stop. 

We picked out Sequoyah State Park as it had full hook-ups and the reviews on was pretty good.  I did some research on which sites had the full service. (Great Salt Plains has no sites with full hook-ups so I knew it would be a treat for us to have the full hook-ups).  The park is actually located on a peninsula that inserts itself in the middle of  Ft. Gibson Lake, with the "Grand River" on one side and the Ft. Gibson Lake on the other.  There are about 4 campgrounds, with two of them having hook-ups.  When I called it was recommended that we drive around to see which one we liked better, and again the reviews were stellar for Seminole so when we hit there and saw the nice site, we just stopped there.  We didn't need reservations, however the weekend (Veteran's Day) was a holiday and the park filled up fast and is well used.  The sites are about 30 yards from the lake shore, but easy enough walk and the woods are filled will all sorts of birds.  But that's not why we're here.
The first thing we notice crossing the bridge entering into the Sequoyah State Park peninsula is the preponderance of pelicans which are always fun to watch, on the shore of the swimming beach.  The beach is closed for the season, but we can get relatively close enough to watch the birds.  Part of the fun of watching flocks of birds is their landing in a particularly crowded spot.  No one seems to mind just "one more" landing and there always seems to be more room even when there doesn't look like there's any.

The woods surrounding our site is filled with birds floating around, and although some of them were shore birds, some were woodland birds that we really don't get to see that much, like this red-headed woodpecker. (Don't you just love the technical name of some birds?!!!!)  With a piece of bark in its chops and banging on all the trees he's up to something like nest building, or we hope it's something productive!
 But the main reason we're here is for the eagles.....and we found them.

Sure enough the first day at the dam, we spot an immature eagle.  They are a dead giveaway, as the first year they are almost all black.  The second year, they are a little spotted on the head and breast, and by the time they are mature in their fourth year, they have the bald head.  This one is about a year old.  And the other thing we could tell was that he does not like wasps, as one was harassing him and in the first shot you can see the wasp, while in the last one  it seems to be following along!

Obviously the one on top is a little older - the speckled head is a giveaway, and the return of the one y/o.  I imagine they were siblings or even possibly from the same generation, with one maturing a little more than the other.  But it's for sure they don't get along.

Our tip from our friend around the campfire at Greenleaf was pretty good.  Bald Eagles are definitely around the dam area.  We didn't see any  mature eagles - well one, but he was too far to get a good shot, but they are around and migrating through.|10997241&CPNG=Appliances&kpid=10997241&LID=PA&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=10997241&gclid=CN3Mwoqx7roCFYt_Qgod9DsAdA
The trip at Sequoyah State Park ended with a great purchase.  Lately we've noticed that in some of the  more scenic and enjoyable parks, that the water may have different mineral content than what we're used to, therefore a distinctive taste difference, even in our coffee and tea.  So we've been bringing along bottled water so that our coffee and tea doesn't taste funny.  That's fine, but to be honest, I had gotten a little bored with the preponderance of bottled water packaging, which sounds a little preachy, cause to be honest, I'm not all that wonderful and green.  I was just bored of having to make a gazillion trips to the trash dump to dump all the plastic bottles and containers.  So we purchased a water filter.  The one we liked was a Brita 2.5 gallon filter and it fits nicely on the cabinet next to the sink.  I'm not sure Walt was all that fabulous with the idea, but it has worked well for us and we're happy with the results as I'm not taking a gazillion trips to the trash dump and Walt is not having to buy packaging for all that water we're drinking.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oklahoma Autumnal Tour - Part 1

Great Plains State Park

November 2nd
We started our Oklahoma Autumnal Tour because last year we trekked up here to see the tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes.  Being in Yellowstone we always thought finding these birds was a real treat!  But then coming to the northern border of Oklahoma on the western side, we discovered that this is a huge migratory path for a lot of birds and the cranes are just some of them.  They usually set up camp in early November and according to the rangers stay until it gets too cold or the food runs out whichever comes first.  Last year was a dry year, and as a result the birds were flying out daily from their lake roost to the farm fields in the area to eat up the winter wheat.  This was great for us, cause we could get close-up shots, but this year the lake is up, and with lots of rain, the rangers planted the same fields within the refuge and that's where the birds were most of the time.
But even the walk through the canopied trail is beautiful this time of year.

Again this year the birds are plentiful and the count was around 22,000 when we were there.  There is a wonderful blind on Eagle's Roost Trail that is probably the best place to see the birds, and when you exit your car to trek 1/4 mile down the trail to the blind, you can hear the huge number of birds on the roost.  This year, they were flying just over the row of trees in the background of this picture which had additional fingers of the lake as well as winter wheat, sorghum and Milo (?????) for the birds to eat on.   

What there were a lot of this year because there is more water in the lake, were Pelicans on the spillway and it's always fun to watch them fish and they do a really good job of catching the very elusive fish.  Between the cormorants and the pelicans pestering each other and the gulls and herons just trying to stay out of trouble, the action is a lot of fun on the River Road Campground at Great Salt Plains State Park.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Backyard birds

Bald EaglesSibling RivalryRed-headed WoodpeckerIn the fall leavesA PoseSandhill Cranes
Sandhill CranesPelican FlyingPelicans

Backyard birds, a set on Flickr.

Backyard birds in the RV. When the great outdoors is your backyard you get some pretty spectacular visitors....maybe not all of these are in our immediate back yard, but pretty close. The eagles were having a dispute about which limb was whose and which side of the river was whose! The Red-headed Woodpecker, aptly named is hard to miss, however he is shy of having his photo taken. While the Sandhill Cranes love the Great Salt Plains State Park in the month of November - all of them!