January 2011

A Busy Month

The weather for January 2011 has been very cooperative for bird watchers, but lack of moisture has created a severe to moderate drought.   By the 22nd the 90 day rainfall total for Oklahoma City was 5 inches below normal making it the fourth driest period since 1921.  The U.S. Drought report indicates Oklahoma City centers in a severe drought while the surrounding central Oklahoma area is in a moderate drought.  Indications are that the drought could continue until April.  But the sunny weather has produced a multitude of bird reports for January.

James Hubbell started the New Year by birding Lake Hefner and spotting an immature California Gull.  On the 2nd he drove along the southwest corner of Lake Overholser and saw a mature Bald Eagle do a fly by which scared up hundreds of gulls, and later he spotted the female Long-Tailed Duck.  On the 2nd Patti Muzny discovered a Pine Warbler northeast of Lake Thunderbird.

On the 5th Lindell Dillon discovered 3 adult Trumpeter Swans on Summit Lake in Norman.  On the 6th at Lake Hefner Joe Grzybowski located a first-winter Thayer’s Gull with some Herring Gulls as well as a Greater Yellowlegs.  Earlier this week he casually ran into an adult Ferruginous Hawk near Rock Creek and West 48th Street in the Ten Mile Flats area.  On the 7th Cecil Johnson saw a Virginia Rail in Norman along South Jenkins; meanwhile, at Lake Hefner Bill Diffin viewed several Common Loons, Red -breasted Mergansers , Pied-billed and Horned Grebes.

On the 8th Ben Holt sited a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Glaucous Gull at Prairie Dog Point on Lake Hefner, and the OCAS field trip led by Jim Bates located an Eastern Phoebe at the Bridgestone Preserve. On the 9th Jimmy Woodard discovered a group of Lapland Longspur in Yukon near I-40 and Garth Brooks Road.  At Lake Hefner on the 11thboth Matt Jung and Joe Grzybowski found Greater Scaup, and Matt found a gull that looks suspiciously like a Mew Gull but it hasn’t been confirmed.  Again at Lake Hefner on the 12th Matt saw a Western Grebe, and on the 13th Lisa Wiesbauer located a Snow Goose.

Dustin Lynch decided to spend the weekend of the 15th and 16th birding Oklahoma.  He started in Stillwater at Boomer Lake with waterfowl and the OSU Arboretum with Pine Siskins and a Brown Creeper.  In OKC at Martin Park he discovered a Brown Thrasher, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Winter Wren.  At Lake Hefner he added Ruddy Duck and Field Sparrow.  He went down the turnpike to Fletcher and then 7 miles east and introduced himself to Harvey Coomb.  Harvey said the Trumpeter Swans had been hanging around his pond for two months but not that day.  Dustin then spent Sunday further south and returned in the evening to find 3 Trumpeter Swans.  He ended up seeing 93 species in two days.

On the 15th in Norman the OCAS and Cleveland County Audubon Clubs had a joint field trip.  It started in dense fog but by the time the large group arrived at the field it had lifted enough to see a Merlin winging low out of the mist, a large group of Savannah Sparrows, and a flock of at least 100 Smith’s Longspurs.  Along South Jenkins the group spotted Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, Pileated Woodpecker and a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  On the 16th John Raeside and Anais Starr saw three American Tree Sparrows along South Jenkins.

On the 17th at Lake Hefner Jimmy sited a flock of Lapland Longspurs with 2 McCown’s Longspurs mixed in the group.  On the 21st Kim Wiar spotted a White-winged Dove at her feeder in Norman.  On the 22nd Elvind Vamraak photographed a Glaucous Gull, 2 Thayer’s Gulls, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull at the North Canadian River.  On the 22nd in Stillwater Timothy O’Connell was surprised to see a Turkey Vulture lazily cruising over Wal-Mart.  On the 23rd Dick Gunn had a Peregrine Falcon on South Jenkins.

On the 27th Jimmy received some photos from a friend showing an Evening Grosbeak coming to a feeder in Yukon.  On the 30th continued drought and high winds fueled at least 25 grass fires in the state with a large blaze covering over 5 square miles near Guthrie.  On the 31st in the last 2-3 hours moisture began arriving in the form of sleet and/or snow.

During January 2011 a total of 126 bird species were reported.  I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in reports.  I can be contacted at emkok@earthlink.net.   Esther M. Key, Editor.