Date: 3/8/23 4:59 pm
From: Larry Mays <larrymays1949...>
Subject: OKCAS field trip
On Monday, March 6, I had the honor of escorting 12 intrepid birders;
including a couple, Susan and Warden Jernagin, from New Jersey, to the
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge north of Lawton in Comanche County.
We rallied the troops at the local (for me) Newcastle WalMart at 7:00,
and we began birding at Robison Crossing (Lawtonka Acres) around 8:30 or
so. There is a nice little bottomland area near there, and I had hoped to
scrounge up some woodpeckers, but they just weren't cooperating. There were
plenty Cardinals to go around though. We then proceeded into the little
resort village there to check the several feeders. I had hopes for an Inca
Dove, as they've been fairly cooperative in recent years. No incas, but we
got Mourning Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove and White-winged Dove there as
well as a small flock of Cedar Waxwings and a single Red-breasted Nuthatch.
It was here, alongside the lake that we managed to see a few Harris's
Sparrows, towhees , and a possible Audubon's race individual of
Yellow-rumped Warbler.
From there we began to work our way around Lake Lawtonka, and had several
nice birds including Horned and Eared Grebes and an early Osprey.
We stopped briefly at the Lake Elmer Thomas dam hoping for a Rock Wren
and getting one, along with a couple of very cooperative Rufous-crowned
Sparrows. One other thing of note: today Cindy McIntire, of Lawton, who was
with the group, sent me a couple of photos of a very interesting flyover
bird which she couldn't quite identify. She took the shot at the dam while
the rest of us were looking at the wren and the sparrow. I posted the pics
on the "What's This Bird" page on Facebook, because it is obviously a
loon, but I can't say for certain which. Maybe some of you could have a
look and give it your two cents.
My plan was to then hit a spot where I'd hoped to maybe get a LeConte's
Sparrow, but the damage to that grassland by feral hogs put a stop to that.
Our next stop was just past the Meer's Turnoff at the little prairie dog
town. Everyone got out and we began walking the grass there in hopes of
possible longspurs or maybe a ...LeConte's Sparrow. We jumped at least
one, and finally managed to surround the same or another bird, and slowly
began tightening the circle. We finally got the bird to move up into the
branches of some sand plums there and a lot of folks got great looks and
photos of this elusive little bird.
Lunch was at the Holy City where they've installed some nice new, very
clean picnic tables. We did a quick check of the dog town, but didn't turn
up much, though we now had both species of meadowlark calling.
I then led everyone to the west side of the refuge where we circled a few
gravel roads in hopes of maybe seeing Mountain Bluebirds or Ladderback
Woodpeckers, but dipped on both species. We did get a Loggerhead Shrike
there, but the birds were scarce.
From there we went back onto the refuge and made stops at Sunset, the
trail to the Narrows and Lost Lake. Passerines everywhere were few and far
between. At the Narrows trailhead we managed to get everyone onto a
Townsend"s Solitaire.
At Lost Lake we finally got onto some woodpeckers--three Red-headeds, a
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a Northern Flicker or two. Did we get a
downy? Can't recall.
I think the final tally was 46 species plus the loon.
---Larry Mays

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