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!

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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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

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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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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Wichita Mountains in April

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

Mammatus clouds preceding a thunderstorm

Mammatus clouds preceding a thunderstorm

April is winding to a close and there’s been a few bouts with serious weather in the last week. The above photo wasn’t one of them, but it sure looked dramatic. The mammatus clouds preceded a thunderstorm that kept its distance to the west of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma.

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A nighthawk was flying against the darkening sky, then taking a sudden dive with his wings whirring as he tried to impress a lady somewhere on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spring in Oklahoma

April 17, 2016 at 7:41 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Butterflies, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wildlife) (, )

Henbit tints the greening grass with a lavender wash

Henbit tints the greening grass with a lavender wash

Early spring began in late February here in southwest Oklahoma. Henbit is a common “weed” but when it blooms it adds a welcome flood of color to a landscape that had been brown for months. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oklahoma City National Memorial

March 28, 2016 at 5:30 am (Uncategorized)

Redbud tree and memorial chairs at former site of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

Redbud tree and memorial chairs at former site of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

Oklahoma City is 90 miles from where I now live, and visiting the national memorial dedicated to the terrorist attack of 20 years ago was on my list of things to do. However, the morning I had a medical appointment at the VA hospital there, another terrorist attack occurred thousands of miles away in Brussels, Belgium. So this would be an appropriate day to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oklahoma Critters and Such

February 16, 2016 at 4:55 am (Bird photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

Oklahoma grassland

Oklahoma grassland

There’s something so appealing about a lone tree in a sea of grass underneath a big wide sky. Don’t you just expect to see a herd of bison thundering by?

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

I first saw the Harris’s sparrow at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Kansas years ago. Then I saw them at Geronimo’s Gravesite two months ago while a co-worker gave me the insider’s tour of Fort Sill. But I DIDN”T HAVE MY CAMERA. Urgh.

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

I’ve been back looking for them, but no luck until Saturday. Unfortunately a sudden onslaught of visitors spooked them. Sigh.

American Kestrel male

American Kestrel male

This is the best photograph I’ve ever made of a kestrel, known in my childhood as a sparrow hawk. This guy was hunting at Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge. That refuge is the absolute saddest, most neglected refuge I’ve ever seen. The observation boardwalk was in shambles, the campground was in disuse, and what looked like storm debris was everywhere. From their website:  It is appropriate that the refuge is named for a famous Chickasaw chief and great warrior, Chief Tishomingo.  It’s sad that this kind of management represents such a great chief.

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Tishomingo NWR – it was actually a hazard to walk on but no signs warning so

Now for some images from a beautifully managed refuge: Wichita Mountains.

Elk, Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge

Elk, Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge

It took me awhile to realize this wasn’t a “National” Wildlife Refuge like most of them in the US Fish & Wildlife system. I mean, it IS, but it’s not in the name.

Purebred Texas longhorn steer

Purebred Texas longhorn steer (or bull?)

The herd of about 300 purebred Texas longhorn cattle is one of the unique things about this refuge. They are a non-native species but because of their historic legacy in the American West, they are carefully managed to insure that legacy does not die off.

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From the refuge’s website: Shorthorn and Hereford stock were introduced into the Southwest to improve the beef qualities, and Brahma cattle to produce animals more resistant to the Texas fever tick. The true longhorn began to disappear, and by 1920 it became apparent that only prompt action could save them from extinction. Through a special Congressional appropriation, funds were made available for an intensive effort to save them. Forest Service employees Will C. Barns and John Hatton, armed with descriptions of the longhorn “type”, set forth on a 5,000-mile search for typical animals. After inspecting more than 30,000 head of Texas cattle, a herd of 20 cows, 3 bulls, 3 steers, and 4 calves was assembled, and in August 1927 they were  shipped to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

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Longhorn bulls are stockier in conformation and have much shorter horns. Steers have the longest and most dramatic horns. I guess testosterone drains the horn-building hormones???

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Head ’em up. Move ’em out! Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’….

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

As far as the birds are concerned, it’s time to break out the mating songs.

Prairie dog

Prairie dog

There are two prairie dog towns along the main road through the refuge that offer front row seats to the antics and doings of these groundhog cousins.

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These are black-tailed prairie dogs, which act and sound different from the white-tailed prairie dogs that were my neighbors in the Dinosaur National Monument housing area (Colorado.)

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Cotton boll

Cotton boll

A lot of cotton is grown in northern Texas and southwest Oklahoma. A few fields still had unharvested cotton bolls waving in the wind.

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Spring Peepers

February 3, 2016 at 4:48 pm (Bird photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

_DSC5360-copyActually this isn’t about spring peepers, the frogs whose high pitched choruses can be heard several miles away before Spring even arrives.  But it did take me awhile to figure out that those faint calls weren’t those of an odd flock of birds. Read the rest of this entry »

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