Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

monarch migration 1During last week’s visit to Southwest Oklahoma, we were fortunate enough to observe a cloud of Monarchs that were stopping to rest in some small Willow trees along one of the canals at Hackberry Flat. This was the fourth such time I’ve been lucky enough to witness such a fantastic sight. Thousands of the gorgeous Monarchs swirling in and through the sky and trees…and finally settling into the trees for the night.

“Monarchs are especially noted for their lengthy annual migration. In North America they make massive southward migrations starting in August until the first frost. A northward migration takes place in the spring. The monarch is the only butterfly that migrates both north and south as the birds do on a regular basis. But no single individual makes the entire round trip.

Female monarchs deposit eggs for the next generation during these migrations. By the end of October, the population east of the Rocky Mountains migrates to the sanctuaries of the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican states of Michoacán and México. The western population overwinters in various sites in central coastal and southern California, United States, notably in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz.

Monarch butterflies are poisonous or distasteful to birds because of milkweed poison stored by the caterpillar stage; their bright colors are warning colors. monarch migration 3During hibernation monarch butterflies sometimes suffer losses because hungry birds pick through them looking for the butterflies with the least amount of poison, but in the process killing those that they reject.” – Wikipedia

Here you’ll find even more information about the Monarch Butterfly – provided by the National Wildlife Refuge System. And as they say:

“The annual migration cycle of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world. Every year, millions of monarchs migrate thousands of miles from Canada and the United States to overwinter in the mountain peaks in the states of Mexico and Michoacán in Mexico. This magical journey, deemed an “endangered natural phenomenon,” is dependent on conservation of habitats in all three North American countries – United States, Canada, and Mexico.”

The National Wildlife Refuge system may call it a natural phenomena – but I’m glad they went on to call it a ‘magical journey’  because I call it pure magic! And if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll just never forget it!

monarch migration 2


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“We like to praise birds for flying.  But how much of it is actually flying, and how much of it is just sort of coasting from that last flap?”

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Just returned from a one week photo trip to Southwest Oklahoma – with the destination being Hackberry Flat Wetlands.
The wetlands area includes several canals which draw in shorebirds & ducks. The wildlife department has done a nice
job of leaving tall grasses between most of the canals and the road, which makes viewing easy from your auto.

The grasses also make a nice blind for photography.  I was very happy to come away with half way decent shots of those listed in
the title…and a few more.

  • Avocets
  • White Faced Ibis
  • Black-necked Stilt (It had a broken wing.) :-(
  • Dowitchers (Long Billed or Short Billed or Both. I still have trouble telling them apart.)
  • Sandpipers (Least, Western, Semipalmated & Pectoral)
  • Egrets (Great White, Cattle, Snowy)
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Juvenile)
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Yellowlegs (Lesser & Greater – I think) ;-)
  • Pied-billed Grebes
  • Ducks (Including Blue Winged Teal & Green Winged Teal)
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Prairie Falcon
  • American Kestral
  • Meadowlarks
  • Scissortail
  • Killdeer
  • Red Wing Blackbirds
  • Cliff Swallows
  • Doves (Mourning & Eurasian)
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Quail
  • Turkeys
  • Vultures

If you enjoy birding , I suggest you visit the Hackberry Flat Wetlands. Migration season is upon us and now is a good time to see some unusual species. I’m just as sure that Spring would be a great time to visit.

Dowitchers: I believe they are the Short-billed, but not certain.

Long-billed Dowitchers

White-faced Ibis (Juvenile)

White-faced Ibis (Juvenile)

And if you’re looking for a place to camp while you’re in the area, Great Plains State Park dishes out a fantastic sunset. :-)

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Have you ever noticed how many bird sayings there are?

  • Strictly for The Birds
  • Bird Brained
  • Birds of a Feather
  • A Birds Eye View
  • Free as a Bird
  • A Little Birdie Told Me
  • Wise as An Owl (I like that one!)

I’m sure that’s not all of them, but you get the picture. And do you know why there are so many bird sayings?

Me either. But here are some birds got our attention on yesterday’s road trip to Salt Plains State Park.

  • Black Necked Stilt
  • Bald Eagle
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Avocet
  • Least Sandpipers
  • Stilt Sandpiper
  • Roadrunner
  • Northern Harrier Hawk
  • White Faced Ibis

Yesterday was a day that was strictly for the birds!

American Avocet

American Avocet



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