July in the Wichita Mountains

July 5, 2016 at 5:24 am (Birds - Oklahoma, Dragonflies and Bugs, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers, Wildlife)

Bobwhite male

Bobwhite male

Since joining federal service in 2009 I’ve been privileged to live and work in some gorgeous places. I logged thousands of travel miles exploring Far West Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, and California. Now that I’m in Oklahoma, my urge to explore beyond my backyard has been tempered by this fantastic national wildlife refuge only 20 minutes from home.

Lake Quanah Parker and plains coreopsis

Lake Quanah Parker and plains coreopsis

I try to visit once a week, and the thing is, I rarely need to venture far from the car. There are SO many treasures alongside the road, and frankly the car acts as a photography blind. Were I to get out when I saw the bobwhite, he would have disappeared before I got the door closed.

Wild turkey juveniles

Wild turkey juveniles

The same for these young turkeys. They grazed in a field of coneflowers, practically oblivious to my presence as I photographed from my car window.

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Bison frequently graze alongside the road (and hold up traffic when they s-l-o-w-l-y cross). Frankly, getting out of the car isn’t a good idea in this situation, though I’ve seen some eejits do just that.

Bison calf

Bison calf

This bison calf was probably born in March or April. They are a lovely rust color for the first month or so. You can see its teeny horns starting to grow.

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Bison calf resting

Bison calf resting

This is one of the newer calves.

Bison family

Bison family

It’s that time of year that bison males seek the company of lovely bison ladies, and there are many pairings like this one. There is also a lot of growling going on, but I don’t know if that’s just because the testosterone is working overtime or if they are having a friendly conversation.

A classic bison bull

A classic bison bull

Red-shouldered hawk with snake

Red-shouldered hawk with snake

Black-tailed prairie dog in field of sneezeweed

Black-tailed prairie dog in field of sneezeweed

The main prairie dog town fields have lost their lush gold blankets, but there is still plenty of sneezeweed around their burrows. There is a new scent in the air – reminds me of the Sweet Annie that grows in Maine, a favorite scented herb used in dried wreaths and arrangements.

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Halloween pennant

Halloween pennant

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Gnarled tree skeletons from a fire years ago punctuate the prairie.

Buttonbush flower

Buttonbush flower

The buttonbush still blooms near wet areas, but I didn’t see a single butterfly this day. I’m not sure why. Even though I spent four hours exploring the west side of the refuge, I only covered half the territory I like to visit. I miss the fields of intense gold that were prominent two weeks ago, but look forward to the new flowers and changes that mid-summer will bring to this beautiful part of Oklahoma.

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Wichita Mountains – Late June

June 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Dragonflies and Bugs, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers, Wildlife)

Cow elk and youngster

Cow elk and youngster

People who have been here awhile say the lushness of the wildflowers and prairie grasses is the best they’ve seen in awhile. There was a drought the previous few years, but this spring has been abundantly wet.

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The elk on the refuge were reintroduced in the early 1900s after the native Merriam’s elk were exterminated. The Rocky Mountain subspecies is larger, and numbers between 700 and 800 at the refuge.

Prairie sabatia

Prairie sabatia

Some of the most beautiful flowers don’t make a spectacle of themselves, nestled cozily in the grass. The prairie sabatia is one of those.

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Others love being the center of attention, such as the Indian blanketflower.

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It happens to be the state flower of Oklahoma.

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Plains coreopsis

Plains coreopsis

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Sneezeweed is very common. It grows shorter in the prairie dog towns because the dawgs keep it mowed.

Female widow skimmer

Female widow skimmer

Last week I posted a male widow skimmer. Here is the lady.

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A colorful bug snuggled in a colorful flower.

 

Buffalo bur

Buffalo bur

I was surprised to find this is in the nightshade family.

American Basketflower

American Basketflower

This is a lovely, tall flower that at first glance looks like a thistle.

American Basketflower

American Basketflower

The flower bases are the “baskets.”

Wavyleaf Thistle

Wavyleaf Thistle

Here’s the native thistle for comparison.

Antelope horns milkweed seeds

Antelope horns milkweed seeds

The early season flowers are setting seed.

Bobwhite male

Bobwhite male

Sometimes the bobwhite males find a nice rock from which to sing “bob-WHITE!” but most of the time they manage to remain hidden in the grass.

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Early June in the Wichitas

June 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm (Butterflies, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers, Wildlife)

Echinacea, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Echinacea, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Today the angels are having a bowling tournament, and they must have busted some water pipes because the morning has been as dark as dusk behind a waterfall. I planned to enjoy another sunny Sunday at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge but I’ll have to relive the memories of last week with this blog post.

Large Wood Nymph on buttonbush blossom

Large Wood Nymph on buttonbush blossom

Because of Oklahoma’s location in the country’s midsection, there are a lot of flora and fauna I’m familiar with from both east and west. Sometimes, like with the buttonbush above, I’m reminded of my year in the Okefenokee swamp. There were several butterfly species feasting on the nectar, several of which were new to me.

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Question Mark Butterfly

The Question Mark butterfly does have a question mark – the tiny white “comma” with a “dot” on the underside of the wing. You can see it here. It’s similar to the Comma butterfly, which lacks the “dot.”

Ailanthus webworm moth on buttonbush blossom

Ailanthus webworm moth on buttonbush blossom

Sunday morning is my favorite time to lollygag along the roads because there are fewer people there. Driving up after work is another wonderful time to visit the refuge.

Longhorn-cows-May,-Wichita-Mts-OK-(9)-copyThe Texas longhorns are a historic breed, and there’s quite a story to their inclusion into the Wichita Mountains lineup.

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They are well-loved, even by non-Aggies. The bull above has a number on his side, but I don’t know why.

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Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’……

Lone buffalo in a field of gold

Lone buffalo in a field of gold

The bison have been much more visible since the grass greened up.

Butterfly weed

Butterfly weed

I wouldn’t call it a weed myself.

Lemon bee balm or horse mint

Lemon bee balm or horse mint

It looks like Chinese temples to me. A very lovely wildflower.

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I try to visit the Wichita Mountains once a week, and there’s always at least several new flowers when I do.

Prairie coneflower

Prairie coneflower

Standing cypress, Gilia rubra

Standing cypress, Gilia rubra

I’m mystified as to why this is called a “cypress” but it is a stunning tall flower.

Standing cypress

Standing cypress

Nope. Still doesn’t look like cypress.

A rock garden

A rock garden

Field of gold

Field of gold among the prairie dogs

Wild prairie grasses

Wild prairie grasses

Male widow skimmer

Male widow skimmer

The sun’s out now. The rivers and creeks are rising. Still a good day to stay home and edit photographs.

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Prairie Dog Pups

June 2, 2016 at 6:20 pm (National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife) ()

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There are two main prairie dog towns that are easily visible from the road in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. In April the pups started appearing, and have been very active throughout May. The threadleaf thelesperma is the predominant flower in the refuge, and it seems to really like being in prairie dog towns because they keep the grass short.

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These black-tailed prairie dogs show the black tips more as youngsters. Read the rest of this entry »

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May in the Wichitas

May 30, 2016 at 4:01 pm (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Butterflies, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers) (, , )

Lake Quanah Parker, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Lake Quanah Parker, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I see some of my Maine friends posting their spring photographs and I smile to myself. Spring comes very, very late in Maine. We’ve had Spring for three months here in southwest Oklahoma.

Threadleaf Thelesperma is the predominant field flower now.

Threadleaf Thelesperma is the predominant field flower now.

The rains have kept the prairie flowers coming, with some old ones going to seed now, and a few new ones coming in. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wichita Mountains in Bloom

May 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm (National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers)

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Wordless Saturday. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is in bloom! Read the rest of this entry »

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Critters of the Wichitas – Videos

May 20, 2016 at 7:15 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Video, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife) (, , )

Fort Sill Army post and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge share the same habitat and the same wildlife. These birds in the video were at Fort Sill’s Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area, which borders the refuge.

The refuge also has a herd of purebred Texas longhorn cattle, which sometimes use the road to get from one grazing area to another, to the delight of visitors. Although they aren’t “wildlife” they are very popular, and simply the most beautiful and unique cattle around.

Several prairie dog towns allow easy viewing of the native black-tailed prairie dogs. Their pups were out by April, grazing on grasses and seeds, and their tails tend to show the black tips more than their parents tails do.

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Baby Bison

May 16, 2016 at 4:57 am (Uncategorized)

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All winter I saw just a handful of bison at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. But now, the herds are prominent, and so are the little orange babies!

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Two Sunday mornings ago they were right beside the road just past the Prairie Dog Town. I parked and watched them for about a half hour. Here is a sweet little video:

Enjoy the rest of the photos! Read the rest of this entry »

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Wichita Mountains in Bloom

May 5, 2016 at 6:00 am (Butterflies, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers) (, , )

Post Oak trailhead, Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Post Oak trailhead, Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

I was on the prowl for flowers. And critters. And birds. It was the first day of May and things were a bustin’ out all over!

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I’ll start with the flowers. The Treasure Lake portion of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge had the best masses of color, with Indian paintbrush predominating. Read the rest of this entry »

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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

May 1, 2016 at 4:57 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife) (, , )

Scissor-tailed flycatcher

Scissor-tailed flycatcher

The bird with the impossibly long tail is the Oklahoma state bird – the scissor-tailed flycatcher. Why does it need such a long, forked tail you ask? Beats me.

Scissortail flycatcher, Ft Sill OK (6)

Supposedly it helps their aerial swoops and mid-air turns while chasing bugs. But all the other members of the flycatcher have rather normal-sized tails. What’s with this bird? Beats me. Read the rest of this entry »

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