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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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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