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.

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