Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Serving of Bird Soup at Hackberry Flat

Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area near Frederick, Oklahoma

Yesterday, while college football games held most people captive around the nation -- I decided to actively participate in another sport - birding. Yep, that's right -- I recently joined the Oklahoma City Chapter of the National Audubon Society and joined chapter members yesterday for my first official bird-watching outing (never actually called bird-watching - but rather "birding"). At the risk of loosing some readers I will admit: It was fantastic. I am hooked, lined and feathered and when my New Mexico home finally sells -- I will get all the proper equipment to participate in this fascinating "sport". I say sport because these guys are serious and tough and intelligent. If an email pops-up of an unchecked bird-sighting in another state -- they jump in their car or on a plane and head to the spot and "chase" the winged phantom. Fantastic. I'll take any excuse to travel -- and this one is as good as any.

For me, I am perhaps not quite yet as enthusiastic about the "gets" or the "lifers" as is the proper term (ok, I'm lying through my teeth - my competitive nature has become unleashed on the natural world) -- as I am about the destination and the elocution involved in birding. A beautiful sunny morning driving across the bucolic cross-timbered prairies of south-central Oklahoma to a place called Hackberry Flats - what could be better. Spending a day with folks that are passionate about nature and wildlife and even brave enough to crack a few Bush jokes in Oklahoma - mana from heaven. Ah, but to watch a little whiff of a brown feathered thing suddenly become a "black-throated green warbler" or "marbled godwit" or "long-billed dowitcher" - music to my ears -- you now have my full-attention. For a lover of words, birding is worth it just for the opportunity to let wonderful sounds swill around your mouth like phalarope, avocet, pied, acadian, scissor-tailed, whimbrel, palmated, gallinule - get the picture.

Yesterday I got 26 "lifers" and here is a total list of the birds sighted:
Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Ruddy Duck, Northern Bobwhite, Pied-billed Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Mississippi Kite, Northern Harrier Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Sora Rail, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, American Coot, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dowitcher, Wilson's Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Black Tern, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Cliff Swallow, Titmouse, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Green Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Common Grackle and Great-tailed Grackle.

1 comment:

Cooper said...

I take a similar enjoyment in the language of flora and fauna:

Lenten rose, swordfern, witch hazel, glacier lily, sowbug, striped chorus frog, purple foxglove, licorice fern, bleeding heart, double bloodroot, golden northern bumblebee, baldhip rose, copperbush, monkshood, cedar waxwing, spring azure butterfly, trillium, red huckleberry, stream violet, willow grouse, feverfew, umbrella pine, fairy bells, bear's breech, pearly everlasting, thimbleberry, stag's head sumac, devil's club, frecklepelt lichen ... They trickle off the tongue like a cupped hand of earthen water during a long hike ... quenching something indefinable in the heart.


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