An Interesting Hot Dry Summer
You never know what you will find when you go out birding in spite of the heat and drought. It was a challenging summer for the birds, plants and people with a drought and heat. While there weren’t as many days with temperatures over 100°F when it did turn hot it was really hot with several days tying for the hottest temperature on that day and one day tied for the all time hottest temperature. A host of wildfires swept through several areas in central Oklahoma destroying homes and changing the composition of the vegetation. While most things suffered during this time, insects abound which is a basic food staple for breeding birds and their families.
On June 1st Chip Leslie was taking his daily walk around Boomer Lake in Stillwater when he spotted a Black-bellied Whistling Duck near the west shoreline by the old tennis court, and Tim O’Connell confirmed the sighting the next day. On the 2nd Chris Clay saw the last spring Swainson’s Hawk migrate through the Teal Ridge Wetland. On the 3rd Sharon Henthorn reported white-faced Ibis at Rose Lake and a White Ibis at the rookery at NW 10th and Council, and on the 4th Dave Evans reported Ruddy Ducks at Lake Hefner. On the 6th John Polo discovered an Eastern Screech Owl at Lake Stanley Draper, and Don Maas found a Black-billed Cuckoo near his home in Eastern Oklahoma City. On the 8th Mary and Lou Truex located a Bald Eagle at Taylor Lake and a Redhead Duck at Rush Springs Sewage Lagoons. On the 16th Matt Jung had been out walking the last several days and located a Common Yellowthroat on Morgan Road, and on the south side of the Coffer Dam a Green Heron, a singing Blue Grosbeak, Great Crested Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Gray Catbird, and Prothonotary Warbler.
On July 2nd on Macomb Road in Pottawatomie County Joe Grzybowski discovered a Yellow-throated Vireo, and at Lake Stanley Draper in early July Jim Bates found a few Red-eyed Vireos and a single Black-and-White Warbler. On the 7the at Prairie Dog Point and vicinity Jim had a Peregrine Falcon circle and land on the point near the Great Blue Herons. He also saw 3 small shorebirds that were possible Least Sandpipers. On the 10th Brian Davis reported a Black-chinned Hummingbird had been coming to his feeder in Norman for the past several days. On the 11th Pat Velte photographed an American Golden Plover and Piping Plover at Prairie Dog Point on Lake Hefner. On the 12th Juliette Hulen returned from the Memorial in downtown Oklahoma City where Purple Martins were being encouraged to move to another nighttime roosting location. She started an unofficial “Roost Watch” on the 15th. On the 25th Brian found a juvenile White Ibis at the NE corner of Lake Overholser mixed in with some Snowy Egrets, nearly twenty American Avocets, and some Greater Yellowlegs. On the 29th Jim Bates and his son John were birding Lake Hefner near the mouth of the canal where they located a Marbled Godwit, Stilt Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers and in the distance John discovered a Wood Stork.
Along Lake Hefner on August 1st Jim reports that Pat Velte located Buff-breasted Sandpipers along the east side of the lake which he later observed as well as Forster’s, Least and Black Terns. On the 3rd Joe discovered a Western Sandpiper, and the next day T.K. relocated the Marbled Godwit, along with Wilson’s Phalarope and Sanderling. On the 4th along the river at the end of South Jenkins Dick Gunn reported it looked a little like one of those winter-scape paper weights where you turn it upside down and precipitate a faux snow storm. The Snowy and Great Egrets were swarming the sandbars, cleaning up on small fish exposed in the shallows. He noticed a single darker, medium-sized heron in the group and stalked them for a mile to get close enough to identify a Tri-colored Heron amongst the blizzard of white wings and feathers.
On the 5th Matt took a morning walk along Lake Overholser Drive and located a Black-necked Stilt and Sharon Henthorn discovered a Belted Kingfisher. Jimmy Woodward heard several Upland Sandpipers migrating through Mustang as did Tim O’Connell over a still-smoldering field east of Stillwater. On the 7th Dick Gunn was walking along South Jenkins where he noticed a Least Flycatcher and then an interesting bird caught his eye. It was small, active and had lots of bright yellow on its head and breast with a very distinct black eye-line, obviously a Blue-winged Warbler out of range. On the 8th he located an Olive-sided Flycatcher perched conspicuously on a tall dead tree in the middle of the brush piles near the police range. On the 9th along the east shoreline of Prairie Dog Point Pat photographed a Red Phalarope, and on the 10th at the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge James Hubbell located a Summer Tanager. Meanwhile David Arbour reported a Brown Booby in Arkansas which doesn’t count on our list but was a very interesting summer observation.
On the 17th Joe located a Loggerhead Shrike and Orchard Oriole near Rose Lake; a Pied-billed Grebe at Lake Overholser; and Franklin’s Gull at Lake Hefner. On the 18th Nathan Hillis heard a Fish Crow at Arcadia Lake’s Spring Creek Park, and on the 25th Jimmy discovered a House Wren in Mustang. On the 27th Butch Enterline spotted an Alder Flycatcher at the Adkins Hill Sod Farm near Noble, and in Norman Lindell Dillow of Red Dirt Photograph took a picture of a mystery flycatcher which was later identified as a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. On the 28th David reminded the bird community that the remnants of Hurricane Issac was passing through southeast Oklahoma so be on the lookout for Hurricane birds and on the 31st a Greater Shearwater was located and is included as another very interesting summer observation. What will fall bring.
Thanks to all who share their sightings and interesting stories with the rest of us. During the Summer 164 bird species were reported with 14 new species which increased the year’s total to 259 species in the Central Oklahoma area. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds and can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Esther M. Key, Editor.