Caddo Maples

November 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm (Autumn, Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

Caddo Maples, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Caddo Maples, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Walking through a forested canyon in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Okla., I felt like I was back in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in Texas. Big Bend was the first park I worked at when the Great Recession ended my art business, and it changed my life.

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Not only is it my favorite park, it gave me the opportunity to be a park ranger for a few years. Smokey Bear hat and all. After that, I worked one summer at Mesa Verde, another summer at Dinosaur National Monument (both in Colorado), a year at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, and a year for U.S. Fish & Wildlife at Okefenokee NWR.

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The area I was in yesterday was in the wilderness portion of the refuge that was only accessible by the public on a special tour. Helen Riley, Friends of the Wichitas volunteer, gave her usual excellent tour (my third with her). The above image in particular reminds me of the hikes I did in the Chisos, through Boot Canyon, when the oaks and maples were turning color.

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Caddo maples aren’t very common here, but they are among the most colorful of Oklahoma’s fall trees. This year’s color has been muted by an exceptionally warm autumn, but a recent cold snap helped the colors along.

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Most were gold and yellow, but this one was a lovely orange.

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I didn’t realize Helen was waiting for me while I spent some time with this tree.

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I’m on her “lolly-gagger” list, since I generally fall behind everyone else because I’m taking pictures of this thing or that.

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Well, we made it back to the bus in plenty of time, thanks to the fast walking pace she set. (Phew!)

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Many trees perished in the big fires of 2011, during the height of the drought here.

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I have never seen or heard so many red-headed woodpeckers as I did here. I don’t know why the acorn woodpecker hasn’t moved in – it seems like perfect habitat.

Red-headed woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker

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Red-headed woodpecker in flight

Red-headed woodpecker in flight

Juvenile red-headed woodpecker

Juvenile red-headed woodpecker

There were also several eastern bluebirds.

Male eastern bluebird

Male eastern bluebird

It was such a treat to be out in that special area on a gorgeous crisp day.

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Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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1 Comment

  1. Patti said,

    Cindy your photos inspire me to visit!

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