White ibis

White ibis

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Meetup With the Animals of Ouichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

October 9-13, 2017

The Witchita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma is famous for its hills, its bison, longhorns, elk, and prairie dogs.  I have a friend who was living in Lawton, the town nearest to the refuge, and visited her on my fall migration. She and I spent time here and I spent another day there by myself while she worked. The manager there is one of my old bosses from Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.  I got to catch up a little with him when he invited me to supper.  So I have way too many pictures for one blog.  I found lots of longhorns, each of which is worthy of a portrait and a few bison, as well as some of the other animal inhabitants.

This was my first meetup with a longhorn

I thought this old bull was going to be the only one I found

A Swainson's hawk I found on the way into the refuge

Cindy caught up with me for lunch and then took me to see the prairie dogs

They were still in their family groups but the young were visiting back and forth with their neighbors

Cindy found two very unexpected woodcooks right at the edge of the prairie dog town.  I love one of their nick names, timberdoodles.  The are a shorebird who loves to live in woods with soft soils as they eat earthworms. 

A young flicker was already in migration

I asked, my old boss, Dave, why the horns on these animals are so smalll.  (I'm used to horns way longer in Texas.) He said that only steers grow long horns.  And the steers are way more ornery so they no longer geld their bulls. 

Cindy and I had to shoo this guy off after he kept coming closer and closer as though he wanted a pet

I love how each animal is unique

But then each one seems more hansome than the next

This darling calf, only a few days old captivated us. This picture probably told the most about him as he is with his parents.  Dad was already waiting for mom to come into estrus.

I caught this crow doing his sunrise stretches

And there were lots of mourning doves about

I found part of the bison herd on the last evening I was there.

Thanks in advance for your comments. Its always good to hear from you. 

Hope you are having a great Thanksgiving and will get to go out and enjoy nature tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Visit to Roosevelt State Park

I was told Rosevelt State Park was only a few minutes from the Hatchery up a mountain. My advisor, pointed across the street and told me that the park was behind the hill and up a mountain.  The hatchery is at 917 feet and what I was looking at seemed to only be another couple of hundred of feet highter. But I followed my GPS's directions and soon turned and went up a winding and rolling road, getting mostly every higher until I was at 1379'.  Not much of a mountain, but it did offer some great views of the valleys which were eventually on either side of the road.

The day was gorgeous, with a few scudding clouds along the horizon and only a bit of a breeze, a perfect temperature in the mid 60's.

I took a side road off to Dowdell's Knob and found fantastic views. But workers were blowing leaves off the road and the sun was too bright for enjoyable pictures, so I planned to come back on the way home and continued on.

I managed to miss the visitor center and went on to a loop road where most of the camping is located. Most of it was on either side of the small, pretty Lake Delanor.

On my side of the lake, there were cabins for rent while there were camping loops on the other side

Most of the roads looked pretty much like this except for a few places where there were buildings or pullouts for a view. 

I finally located the visitor center when I made my way around the loop.  It

The Visitor Center and the Cottages were build by the CCC during the depression

I found this amazing boulder on the grounds of the visitor center. The outside looked
 like granite, but the inside was very diferent. 

The back of one of the cabins - I couldn't go in there - overlooking a valley

I came in on the top of this overpass.  The park is both through it and straight right on the top road. This reminded me of the beutiful stone arches in Acadia where the roads cross. 

Most of the leaves that will turn, have turned and leaves are rapidly falling

I think this is the second lake at the park.  I saw it from a long way up the hill to the ridge where the road runs. 

A view from the parking area at Dowell's Knob

President Franklin D. Roosevelt loved Warm Springs and came here to build a polio healing center where patients could swim in the warm springs.  He loved to drive up to Dowdell's Knob and sit on a car seat and contemplate his problems while enjoying the view.  Now a full sized statue marks his place forever. 

President Roosevelt

I took a very short hike in this area, as I fouond I had to be out by 5:00 P.M.  One of the things I discovered along the trail was this memorial.

This markes the site of a plane crash

This leaf was glowing in the setting sun. 

Another view of Lake Delanor from the ridge

A long view across the forested valley from a highway pullout

Enjoying the view with President Franklin Rosevel

Some of what we could see

This park is the largest in the state of Georgia, and has more than 40 miles of hiking trails. I'm looking forward to hiking some of them, especially as soon as the leaves are off the trees so the views get better.

Please leave your questions and comments below.  That way, I'll get to review our conversations forever.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bully Winter

September 15

I'm going to catch up on my adventures since last July, when my computer broke and I didn't have time to wresstle with my ipad.

I worked all the previous day in my shirt sleeves, and even got a little hot.  Then I went to bed and woke to a snow storm that continued throughout most of the following morning. We ended up with 10 inches of snow with five or six inches sticking.  I was working in the office pinning my bees and ended up meeting a lot of the public. But before and during work, I took lots of pictures.

This was the view from my back door. 

All my manager's wife's horses had a barn to get into, but Biscuit had to come out and dig for grass

We still had most of our sparrows and a few bluebirds

This is another view from my back yard when the sun came out 

This is a long view to the mountains in front of my trailer

Magpies are among the few species of birds that can live through the winters.  They scavange wolf kills for some of their food. 

The only time I saw this Merlin was when I was walking to work in the snow

I think I took this picture between snows or after the second snow. 

The snow came so early that the aspens were just starting to show color

About three days later, we had another snow.  None of this lasted long, but they made a muddy mess of our roads.

Another storm is forming out my front door.

This is from the second storm - I started looking for the tiny, beautiful views

Reflections in a drop melting

Ice Crystals

After bully winter took a break, the trees were able to continue into their fall color.


Grasses and willows show a rnge of fall colors 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Fishy Assignment

It's been a long time since I last blogged.  But my computer was broken most of the summer and I had lots of work to do.   I finished my summer job September 30 and left October 3.  Since then I have had several adventures as well as  also several visits with friends and family, and I my eventually get around to telling you about them.

A year ago, I decided I wanted to get a job at a fish hatchery and started searching for one with housing.  Most hatcheries don't do much in the winter, so I didn't think I would get a job. But I got one in the tiny town of Warm Springs, GA.  This hatchery raises lake sturgeon, bluegill, stripped bass, and I think some other species of bass. They just raise catfish for kids fishing day, when the children can catch up to five fish and take them home.

My first landing spot

I had to take this picture before I called to report in.  This is our display area and those trees in the background are cypress.

I arrived mid afternoon on this past Monday after a twelve hour drive from my friend, Hulin's house in Louisiana. I pulled into the road that was signed National Fish Hatchery, only to find I was at the Aquarium and the only living things around were fishes. I called the Hatchery and found I was one driveway away.  Soon I was meeting my new bosses and co-workers. They mostly pointed me to my house, another driveway down the road.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning most of my stuff out of my car and finding bedding, towels and the clothes I would need for Tuesday.

I remembered to take a few pictures, before I trashed the place.  It is dated but fundtional and comfortable to live in.  (And I have guest bedrooms.)

Half my house - I was in too much of a rush to walk up to the road

You come in the side door to the dining area

The kitchen is part of the same room

The living room - the door I usually come in is behind the lamp on the left -
the front door is at my right in front of the bookcase

I had already junked up my room but things are mostly put away

My guest room - and I have lots of bedding

On Tuesday, Trent, the biotech, was assigned to show me around and start training me for some of my jobs. I've spent the most of my learning time with him this week and have had great fun with him.  He taught me how to open the Aquarium, how to clean it, and how to feed the fish.  He also took me to his main interest, the fresh water mussel lab, where I helped him clean out a bunch of aquariums whre he maintains fish that he will use in his mussel breeding program.

Trent showing me around the lab and letting me take his picture to show a mutual friend - what a small world.

Trent has two tanks of baby lake sturgeon which he is raising to use to breed mussels on. They often swim around vertically with their heads out of the water. 

Ain't he cute - a baby white lake sturgeon

In the afternoon, I helped Trent clean out aquariums where he houses the fish he uses in his mussel program.

Trent siphoning out the aquariums

I'm scrubbing out the aquariums, after he siphons them, then letting most of the water drain out

On Wednesday, I was assigned my own personal golf cart and then Hale, another biologist taught me how to feed all the fish we are feeding in the ponds. Trent also taught me a lot about our water system, which consists of two springs which we have to treat to bring up the pH.  And I learned how to feed the goldfish we have in huge tanks and which will become food for other fish.

Self portrait, taken from my kitchen door deck
One of our springs provides most of our water and also supplies warm springs with their water. I think we use two-thirds of it and the town gets one-third.  That spring is hidden inside a building but used to be a gathering spot where people came to wade and collect water.

This is the spring and the little wall build around it in 1933. Trent is holding a light while Alex tries to see the spring bubbling up in the sand

The pool continues down a channel and then through a small and large opening where it splits out for us and the town. 

Thursday I didn't have a lot of work so I decided to work a project to plan for a pollinator garden. The hatchery doesn't have wi-fi in the office but gave me wonderful 5G wi-fi at my house, so I came home to work on that and wait for a promised visit of Rosal, a former administrative assistant, and a member of the friend's group.

I have to fill buckets from 50 pound bags. and in some cases, mix two feeds Then I head out with a map of the ponds and a list of what to feed each pond. 

These are the catfish of pond 7.  They are the only ones that come to the surface and feed so they are my favorites.
When I answered a knock, Alex, our administrative assistant, and another man were at the door.  The man turned out to be the manager of our Fish Health group, a separate entity that is just across the road. He had read my resume and wanted to see if I could also do work for him.  I agreed to do a test designed to see if the frozen heads of fishes show the signs of whirling disease.   I'll find out the details on Monday, but I'm excited to use my degree again. Aparently I can work from four to many hours a week, depending on how much I can stand.

Friday I was mostly on my own, feeding fish, except I learned how to harvest goldfish and feed them to the fish in our display pond.  I also did heavy cleaning at the Aquarium and a little feeding.

I think I'll be real happy here and am looking forward to visiting Roosevelt's Little White House.  This is where he came for his polio therapy. And there are several state parks within less than a two hour's drive so I think I'll find lots to do.  But my first weekend is cold, cloudy and rainy so I may have to wait to get started on outdoor stuff.