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.
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