As I said before the birding must go on, and what a chase I had. It was a "Sooner" chase....But before that, I want to share some photos of St Martin...
First, the house we almost sold....shockingly, it survives to be slept in another day
The fence is beat up along our pool and we have some minor damage but It isn't too bad.
The place we were going to keep took a beating but stands, but everything around it is pretty tough. It may be many many months before water and electricity go to it. I've been trying to get rid of that pergola for years BUT IT IS INDESTRUCTIBLE.... POSSIBLY though it held the house together.
some other photos of nearby...
It will be years before i get these houses straightened out and functional...love it down there, but we have to go to Florida and Honduras this year...very sad....I've already made arrangements.
I got a lifer SD bird on Sunday at Hartford Beach State park, a red-bellied woodpecker, my 65 South Dakota lifer of the year.....I know a red-bellied woodpecker...why would I ever chase one? I was just out for a walk and I saw 5
I was sitting in my basement watching our beloved Packers taking a beating when I got the email...Masked duck in Oklahoma....yea, right. I had just seen a post of a bananaquit in New Jersey with all kinds of explanation except the bird was clearly a yellowthroat....imagination run amok, but for some reason I looked at the picture of the bird...dang, it was a masked duck and it was a hen,...fifteen minutes later, I was out the door, 9pm, heading south, way south...to Oklahoma.
I like Oklahoma, if I wasn't married and in another life, I'd have either lived in Oklahoma or southern Kansas. I like the people, I like the accents, I like the terrain..I'd leave in April and May to hide from tornadoes but heck...you can;t have everything. Oklahoma is quirky....weird history. Even their nickname is after a bunch of dirt poor people waiting in Perry or Enid for the start of a land grab of the Cherokee strip, the fourth land rush in Oklahoma and the largest, of course it was the Sooners that left early and got some of the best land, most that waited got nothing....the difference between 1893 and today...? The date.
It is a state that we acquired during the Mexican-American War of 1848 with a little from the Texas Annexation, that nobody wanted so we gave it to the eastern Indian tribes, ex slaves, and there was even a piece, the now panhandle that was no-man's land, having no designation at all, and for a time was illegal to even be there. Some enterprising people even tried to get that area to be its own territory Cimmaron Territory and maybe someday even a state...but those were dreamers...like always it took some fast PR in Chicago to drum up support for it all and as such...here we are....
It was along night but like the Sooners, I had a goal in mind and a bird that might not wait as it is teal hunting season in Oklahoma and there is nothing more prized than someone getting the opportunity to get a rare duck. That thought kept me going. It beeter get there soon if I wanted to see that bird.
Hackberry Flat, Tilman Oklahoma
872 miles, two wrong turns, a two hour nap in a corn field, and I arrived 15 and a half hours after I left NE South Dakota. It was 1230, and the day was getting hot. I was tired but then I saw a group of people way out near a pond. I just drove over there as three cars were leaving. One guys said, the guy we left behind knows where it is. I shuffled over 100 feet and there it was sleeping, head ticked under a wing. Every ten minutes of so it popped its head out. Eventually, it put on a little swim by for us for excellent photos in near perfect light.
What a stunning bird! Even if it is a hen. These may be the photos of the year!!
In fact, I’m happier it was a hen. Exotic wildfowl keepers usually have males. We got to see both legs and it was unbanded.
I even photographed wings
I suspect it was just a bird displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Great bird! Lifer bird!!
Hard to believe that in the 1993 Texas breeding bird survey they estimated a statewide population of 3000 of these birds but then they just disappeared. The cause is unknown but in the last 5 to ten years there have been like three sightings and those where fleeting. Masked ducks like to stay in the weeds and can be hard to see even if you know where one is but this one came out, I felt very lucky. It could have came out to a man with a shotgun. Sadly, it still might.
The four of us there laughed at my long drive they were from Wichita, Tulsa and Fort Worth. I had them beat....
I had heard the new checklist is delayed by 1-2 months so it will be a while before I know how many I have...in the meantime, I 'll keep chasing birds
Wichita National Refuge, Lawton Oklahoma
This is an area I’ve never been to before so despite my exhaustion, I wanted to look around. I drove into this huge wildlife refuge of 59,000 acres I'd never heard of next to Fort Sill, which oddly, my old company, just started a clinic contract at today, this very day. What are the odds of that?
WNR is a wildlife refuge with little wildlife save a wild herd of Texas Longhorn cattle. I refused to photograph longhorns.
I saw a loggerhead shrike and vultures, that was the best I could do.
I went and saw the Holy City of the Wichitas that is tucked back in the refuge. This is a place where they still do the annual passion play every spring. I'm not sure how many attend. They have little parking.
Built in 1934 by the WPA, when Church and State used to be the same thing, It is billed as a "slice of old Jerusalem" Although it looks much like 1930s western USA with a painted chariot laying around. There is also the large modern statue of Jesus and a sign saying the government does not support this....but it is on federal land. Oh, I'll be nice...I bet the play is very moving. I've actually seen the REAL Passion Play in Oberamergau Germany, where the seats were hard and the play even harder.... to understand at it was in German.
Views from Mt Scott at 2464 feet high.
It was a nice area that I may never get back to. I stumbled into Chickasha and found a lo-cal room. I was too tired to care, and too tired to appreciate an expensive one. The bed looked as though only a few people had sex on the sheets before I got here, so that is good and it beat sleeping in a corn field.... but I did go out for a lifer beer!! I had to..
Cheers! To a damn nice duck!
If I wake up, I think I need some sausage with that beer and the best Swedish sausage spot is in Linsborg Kansas, a little out of my way....... but for one of the 5 best sausage shops in America...I shall take the detour!
yum, I can almost taste it now!!!