January 2010

A Cold Wet Month

A new year, a new bird list, and a new weather pattern start the year 2010.  In spite of a few days in the 60ºF the monthly summary is recorded as a cold and wet month with a precipitation total of 2.77 inches.  Quite a few days were rough on both wildlife and humans.

On New Year’s Day in Edmond Terri Underhill woke up to a Great Horned Owl, and David McNeely started with a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk sitting on the feeder.  In Norman Jennifer Kidney had 3 Pine Siskins, a female Purple Finch, and Merlin. On the 2nd she saw a greenish flash in the Photinia bush next to her back stoop when out hopped a lovely Orange-crowned Warbler.  At Lake Overholser Jim Bates found a Great Egret, all three Mergansers, Lesser and Greater Scaup, and a Long-tailed Duck.

On the 3rd the Cleveland County Christmas Bird Count included Rusty Blackbirds, Smith’s Longspurs, a Western Grebe, plus 8 Trumpeter Swans (1 immature and 7 adults) were located in the main pond of the Summit Lake Addition off Alameda Drive just east of 24th Street East.  In Oklahoma City Jimmy Woodward and Max Fuller spend a wonderful day out birding.  At Lake Overholser they found an immature Bald Eagle and two winter adult Glaucous Gulls, at Twin Lakes a pair of Wood Ducks, and at Terri Underhill’s house in Edmond a Rufous Hummingbird, Purple Finch, Hermit Thrush, Hairy Woodpecker, and Brown Thrasher.  In Edmond Dora Webb saw a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk zoom right over her bird feeders.  A little while later it zoomed back over the feeders immediately followed by two Red-tailed Hawks in hot pursuit.  She could see them going after it like Kamikaze pilots as they chased it off to the north.

On the 6th the temperatures began dropping and went clear down to 5ºF during the night of the 8th and 9th.  It was so cold and windy during this time that several schools closed to protect students from frostbite indicating a tough time for wild creatures.  Small ponds froze.  On the 10th at Lake Hefner Angie, Amelie and Ben Holt found a mixed flock of about 500 Canada, Cackling, Greater White-fronted, Snow and Ross’ Geese.  Brian Davis joined them and located the Lesser Black-backed Gull and 4 Common Loons. They returned to Norman and kicked the fields north of the Embassy Suites to find a Loggerhead Shrike, LeConte’s Sparrow, Smith Longspur and six Northern Harriers.

On the 12th Brian Davis found another very large group of various geese species on the frozen water treatment lagoons on the north side of El Reno.  On the 14th at Lake Hefner Bill Diffin found American White Pelicans, a first winter Glaucous Gull and a pale 2nd winter type Thayer’s Gull.  On the 15th Mark Cromwell found Mountain Bluebirds in the Freedom area.

On the 19th the weather warmed to 63ºF and the next day over an inch of rain fell.  On the 23rd at the southwest end of the Lake Hefner dam, Bill Diffin confirmed a report from Doug Eide of a Western Grebe.  On the 24th at Fort Reno Ben and Angie Holt found a Barn Owl, Winter Wren, a lone Greater Yellowlegs and two Ferruginous Hawks.  Later another Ferruginous Hawk was found in the Purina Field in Edmond.  On the 24th along South Jenkins in Norman Jennifer Kidney found a Brown Creeper, and on various dates Dick Gunn found his first Purple Finch, a Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat.  On the 25th Matt Jung found a Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In Edmond this was the last day Terri saw the Rufous Hummingbird.

On the 27th the temperature warmed up to 64ºF, keeping the ground warm, but the next day schools closed in anticipation of the arriving storm. On the 29th Jimmy Woodward reports that there is about an inch to two inches of ice and sleet on the ground in west Mustang. He then went to Lake Overholser but it began snowing heavily and he returned by 12:30 to find around 500 blackbirds at his feeders.

On the 30th Jimmy and Max found a flock of Mountain Bluebirds approximately five miles southwest of Calumet and a third year Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake El Reno.  Over the weekend at South Jenkins Dick Gunn found a Least Sandpiper and Swamp Sparrow.

During January 121 bird species were reported making the Central Oklahoma area to date total 121 species.  I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in reports.  I can be contacted by email at emkok@earthlink.net.   Esther M. Key, Editor.