A Tornado Kind of Day

October 22, 2017 at 11:52 am (Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Time-lapse, Video) (, , , , )

Funnel cloud forming

We didn’t actually see a tornado, but we almost did. This funnel cloud shaped up very nicely as viewed from Chattanooga, Oklahoma around 6 p.m., Oct. 21. My photographer friend recognized a storm spotter vehicle and we turned around to follow. As the squall line came in, it looked like some snaggle-toothed clouds were trying to make themselves into tornadoes, which had been predicted. (Technically, they aren’t tornadoes until they touch the ground.)

This funnel took about 3 minutes to form in the video, but I condensed it to 30 seconds. It didn’t quite have the energy to reach the ground, but we received a tornado warning on our phones as we watched it. The spotter (you can see the vehicle on the horizon to the right) may have called it in. We made it back to Lawton before severe thunderstorms hit, but this squall line formed around five small tornadoes in the area before the evening was over.

Thunderclouds from Hackberry Flat

Our initial plan that day was to visit Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to see the sandhill cranes, but the dire weather predictions made us stay closer to home. I’m glad we did. We visited a small state park an hour north, then headed to Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area.

My friend is doing a photo collection of Oklahoma murals, so we stopped in Cordell so he could add this one.

Ornate box turtle

This ornate box turtle, Terrapene ornata, was found wandering in a cemetery. The red eyes mean it’s a male. Female eyes are yellowish brown.

He checked me out every so often to decide if I was safe.

We also saw a coyote on top of hay bales.

Red tail hawk

At Hackberry Flat we began to hear thunder in the distance. It was sunny and breezy and we looked around, surprised. The skies took on a great deal of drama as the cold front met with the warm, humid air to the north and west of us.

The red-tailed hawk added its own flair to the wind-blown backdrop.

Cotton fields surrounded the area, and at times looked like snow.

The skies changed by the minute. We knew we should head home, but we squeezed in as much photography as we could. The severe weather was to our north and moving away from us.

Little tails threaded down from the wall cloud now and then, then were reabsorbed. We made it back to Lawton before we were hit with thunderstorms from this supercell. The KSWO-7 meterologists were busy busy busy last night keeping track of the little tornadoes and large hail in our viewing area, but thankfully all we got at my house was wind and rain.

Another Oklahoma experience!

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Scissortail Ballet

October 17, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

One look at the impossibly long tail of the scissor-tailed flycatcher might make you wonder if handicaps this bird by its excess. But once you see the owners in flight, you realize the tails have a purpose.

They act as rudders of sorts, allowing the birds to dart after flying insects with finesse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nighthawks and Pauraques

May 29, 2017 at 8:12 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Birds - Texas, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) (, )

Common nighthawk

Nighthawks are among the birds of my childhood. Their “buick buick” calls at dusk, the quick wingbeats followed by a glide, remind me of warm Southern nights. I remember being outside when it was nearly dark, and a nighthawk flew past my head.

I took off after it in my bare feet. (My feet were perpetually black in summer from running on pavement). Read the rest of this entry »

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Hackberry Flat in Spring

April 25, 2017 at 1:36 pm (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wildlife) (, )

American Badger

I figured I’d start with the badger since it’s the most unusual animal of the day. It’s technically not in the boundaries of Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in Southwest Oklahoma, but pretty close. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rattlesnake Roundup

April 19, 2017 at 6:00 am (Oklahoma, Wildlife) (, , )

I’m not a fan of this, really. It’s not what I would call a lighthearted family event. But geeze Louise, it’s a tradition here in Oklahoma. It’s part of the culture. I mean, many of these folks are raised on farms. They hunt and fish. They eat what they kill. But still…

There are some interesting facts that accompany a rattlesnake roundup like this one. And some opinions that may or may not be accurate. To be honest, I found it fascinating. All of it. Even the part that comes next — the shock and awe of seeing a perfectly good snake butchered. I was transfixed. Don’t watch this next video if you get easily freaked out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Birds at my feeder

March 14, 2017 at 8:50 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma)

Male house finch

My best photographs of birds at my backyard feeder come on overcast days, because there are too many window reflections on a sunny day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Owls ‘n Hawks

March 6, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, , )

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owl

I understand the short-eared owls at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in Southwest Oklahoma will be leaving soon for their breeding grounds up north. This was my second time seeing them last Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apache, Oklahoma

March 5, 2017 at 10:03 am (Oklahoma, Photography)

Apache, Oklahoma murals

Apache, Oklahoma murals

There’s a little town in Southwest Oklahoma not too far from where I live, and it’s impressive for two things. One is the number of murals painted everywhere on the town’s main street.

Apache, Oklahoma murals

Apache, Oklahoma murals

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Kestrel (Sparrow Hawk)

February 11, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma) (, , )

American kestrel male

American kestrel male

I spent about an hour last month photographing a single male American kestrel, also known as a sparrow hawk. When he first arrived at the blind at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwest Oklahoma, he was wet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Harriers and a Merlin

February 10, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, , )

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Harriers, also known as marsh hawks, are a very common sight here in southwestern Oklahoma in winter. Although the Cornell Lab of Ornithology map shows they occur year-round in the northwestern parts of our state, I did not see any last summer. They were replaced by the very numerous Mississippi kites. Read the rest of this entry »

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