Payne County rare birds over the past week include Canada Warbler at Couch Park, Solitary Sandpiper in the Whittenberg Park area, Scarlet Tanager at both Couch and Hoyt Grove Parks, Cassin’s Sparrow at the Stillwater Airport area, Common Loon, Blackpoll Warbler, and Bank Swallow at Boomer Lake Park, and Crested Caracara as a flyover above Teal Ridge. Cassin’s Sparrow is believed to have wandered east due to the dry conditions in its normal western venues.
Mesonet.org rainfall for the past seven-day period was at an eye-opening 5.51 inches, which did not go unnoticed. It reminded us about the big flood a few years ago where multiple jetties at Boomer Lake went underwater and numerous peeps were discovered in the dry patches at Shorebird Jetty. As of this report, we still have a way to go before we reach that level of precipitation.
The middle of last week, we encountered Wilson’s Warbler at Heron Cove. This beautifully plumaged male was in a hurry picking up protein sources while temporarily visiting. There was no chance for photo ops, as this very hungry individual was quick on the take, no pun intended. The male Eastern Bluebird was operating incognito, as he had a close watch on his three youngsters. Unfortunately, they were nowhere for writer to see, but there was no doubt what the father had in view.
Last Thursday May 19, we had about a dozen Black Terns over Boomer Lake. It was not hard to tell the difference between them and the larger numbers of Cliff Swallows that surrounded them. The Terns were much larger and the black coloring made one’s eye focus upon the differences very well. Upon turning around, the three juvenile bluebirds were seen fluttering around the sycamore right behind. Naturally, dad was not far away.
Last Friday, five Great Blue Herons were mostly on the wing coming from assorted directions, which is a higher than normal number for viewing this time of year as most breeding aged birds are caring for young in some capacity. Some were traveling longer distances as could be evidenced from their altitude.
We also discovered three male Baltimore Orioles, two of which were usual suspects, with the third as an immature bird. Most of the frugivores have been hanging their hats at the large mulberry tree below the berm at The Lowlands. Above the berm, there is a bush filled with mulberries with most ripe ones eaten very early in the day. There are many more produced at the tree, so choices are much better. It’s a great stopoff for cardinals, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and even the Eastern Kingbirds won’t refuse a good sweet now and then.
We rounded up the week Tuesday early afternoon just after the rain ended. It was nice to either see or hear some old friends, which included Least and Willow Flycatchers hiding in the leaf cover, a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers that stopped to pose, and a rain-bedraggled Orchard Oriole at mid-story level.
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.