After returning to Oklahoma after the moose, black bear, and oppressive heat of the north (yes, you read that correctly), writer was ready to get down to more fall birding. Being armed with enough knowledge on what to expect in the South and when, the weather had to be just right. After seeing deep cracks in the ground, it was obvious that a good rain and medium winds from the north would be what we were all waiting for. It didn’t take long.
Wednesday the 9th of September was the day that we all had been waiting for. Shortly after most of the rain, it was time to ride, or in my case, rapidly respond to Boomer Lake to see what shorebirds I had claimed would be late this fall, and there was no disappointment.
For those of you that recall the spring that Shorebird Jetty was covered in water a couple of years ago, it wasn’t quite that good, but it was very impressive. Winds were moderate out of the north and the barometer was rising. It was no great shakes for songbirds, but that was to be expected, as the meat-and-potatoes would be the shorebirds.
On the way, Heron Cove provided Yellow Warblers and a beautiful example of a single unexpected Orange-crowned Warbler. It was time for the kill.
Every 10 minutes, the cast of characters changed, so that meant that we were all on high alert. Syncronizing our watches, our imminent arrival gave us a couple of waves of Blue-winged Teal that circled the lake several times and the crescendo only increased. Along the south edge of Shorebird Jetty were several Great Egrets that flanked a lone Cattle Egret. Spotted Sandpipers gave their peet-weet-weet call as they took to the air along with nearly every swallow that could migrate, except the Northern Rough-winged Swallow. They were on a different channel. Then the Killdeer descended upon the two resting Turkey Vultures, who took off like Valkries.
Several Franklin’s Gulls flew back and forth until it was time to rest and show off their breeding plumage. There had also been sightings earlier in the day of the Black and Forester’s Terns, several Pied-billed Grebes, the Bald Eagle, and Red-winged Blackbirds. There were more herons than you’d seen prior to that day.
Lake Carl Blackwell had a single Ruby-throated Hummingbird that couldn’t have been too far from torpor, Caspian, Black, and Forster’s Terns, multiple Ospreys, Mississippi Kite, Cooper’s Hawk, a Belted Kingfisher dressed for success, as well as Baltimore Oriole, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow, Pine, and Yellow-throated Warblers, Summer Tanagers, and migratory Purple Martins.
The following day with more rain it was more of the same, and of course, the robust renegades changed to some degree. It was all good while it lasted. While the unsettled weather is with us, we shall trumpet the results once again for the next wave of migrants.
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.