Tag: getoutdoors

Cormorant, relatives, and news: more bird pages are live

So this is a spin on doing a #FishyFriday post–instead of posting about a #fish, I’m posting about a couple of #fishers instead–namely the magnificent frigatebird and the double-crested cormorant.

Possible magnificent frigatebird resting in the lagoon

These two pages, along with their family pages (Family Fregatidae for the frigatebird, and Family Phalacrocoracidae for the cormorant), and the order page (Suliformes) are all live under the birding tab.

Young double-crested cormorants resting on logs in Boomer Lake

Getting these five pages up, have brought the birding section to a total of 68 pages, and I still have roughly another 83 pages to add for all the other birds I’ve seen. Therefore I’m going to possibly be adding in three or four new organizational pages to the birding section over the next week or so:

Raptors–and then have all the different birds of prey orders linked to this page

Songbirds–this will be the ‘organizational’ page for the order, with all its numerous families and species (this section actually accounts for over half the pages I still need to add)

‘Water Birds’–orders that are associated with the water

‘All other birds’–the game birds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and those that don’t fit into the other three categories

This way as I continue to bird watch and work on improving my birding photography, the tab/section will be better organized, and the drop down menu will be easier to navigate.

As the summer temperatures have settled in over Oklahoma, I realize that I probably won’t be seeing any cormorants until early to mid-fall (the last of the youngsters should have moved out of the area), and to try to get a better picture of a frigatebird means travel–and I’m not feeling comfortable yet to travel.

Have you been able to see the magnificent frigatebird in flight? If so–off of which coast?

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Hiking the Trails at Devil’s Den State Park: Throwback Travels

Since it looks like summer is here to stay, I’m slowly catching up on things. It is amazing how much more you can get done when it is too hot and humid to be outside (I think we have a heat advisory through tomorrow night).

So, I decided that I would try to see how many #ThursdayThrowbackTravel posts I could generate this summer and fall–both as blog posts and as pages under the travel tab.

The first entry for the ‘series’ is looking back at a trip we took to Arkansas a little over four years ago, when we visited Devil’s Den State Park. The park is located probably halfway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith within the Ozark National Forest.

The park offers three main outdoor activities: hiking (or walking), mountain bike riding, and horseback riding (as long as you supply the bike or horse). We went for the hiking/walking aspect. They also offer either camping or cabins for rent.

Cabin rental within Devil’s Den State Park

During our three to four day stay; at least half the day was spent out on different trails (that were either easy or moderate in terms fo difficulty–so not that much climbing or stairs involved).

There are approximately 13 trails within the park, with one or two being set aside strictly for mountain biking. The others you can hike, and on most of them–you also need to watch out for people on mountain bikes or horses.

Deer spotting

Taking these kind of trips take me right to one of my ‘happy places’–being out in nature. I enjoy trying to catch glimpses of different wildlife, seeing how many different birds I can spot, and taking numerous wildflower photos.

While the world is slowly opening back up–I’ve been slowly thinking of trying to plan a trip for sometime between 2022-2024 (nice time frame, right), though I know it may not be an outdoor trip (I prefer taking nature based trips with other people, safety in numbers), but possibly a trip to a new city/state or even country–if I’m feeling up to air travel (will have to see how things play out pandemic wise).

What is your favorite state park to visit? Then where is your favorite hiking trail?

No Comments bird watchingbutterfliesflowersinsectsnatureoutdoorsPhotographyState ParkstravelTurtles

Future travel plans need: mindfulness and purpose moving forward

So June is ‘National Outdoors Month’, and everyone is looking to head out on vacations, travel, and meet up with friends and family that they weren’t able to see last year due to the pandemic.

This ‘opening back up’ is due in large part to the fact that numerous companies are rolling out different vaccines against the SARS-CoV2 virus, and no–it wasn’t rushed. As a small aside–scientists had started working on a vaccine for SARS when that epidemic eased on its own, so when once the SARS-CoV2 virus was sequenced, scientists figured out how to make the platform for the SARS virus vaccine troubleshooting platform work for the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Some areas are doing better than others (we’re seeing both the dichotomy of wealth–where the ‘wealthier’ countries are vaccinating at a ‘higher’ rate compared to the ‘poorer’ countries, due to the ability to ‘purchase’ the vaccines; and the influence of anti-vaxxers [and I’m not going to ‘touch’ that subject right now]). I truthfully don’t think that there should be a ‘price’ tag on the vaccines–companies should be giving them (and the technology) away. Yes, it would ‘hurt’ the bottom lines for companies–but there shouldn’t be a price on human survival.

Since traveling is slowly starting up again, I’ve been thinking on all the plans I’d been slowly starting to make before the pandemic hit and forced a total change in plans.

I’d been planning on taking at least one international trip that would have been a mixture of recharging and possibly networking as I slowly tried to figure out what I wanted to do with the second half of my life. Since the pandemic started (and halted travel plans)–I’ve invested heavily in personal/professional development books and courses (and have been slowly making my way through them)–but it has eaten the money I’d ‘tentatively’ set aside for travel.

The SARS-CoV2 virus is here to stay (sorry to say), and that means that any travel plans I now make need to be both mindful and purposeful in nature–meaning I’m not just going to head off for a week (or two) vacation just because the experts say we can (if we’re careful and follow the rules).

I need to be mindful of the fact that there can (and probably will be) small ‘outbreaks’ of the virus, some areas may not want travleres showing up during certain parts of the year, and if I really want to travel (especially by plane)–I have to be willing to have a swab stuck up my nose (for COVID testing). Therefore I’m going to set some ‘criteria’ for traveling, and then really think/debate on any and all future travel plans.

My criteria for traveling will include:

Is it something to see (or possibly do) that I can’t see (or do) closer to home?

What is that something (park/zoo/landmark)?

Can I combine reasons for the trip (enjoyment/work/mental health break)?

Then the major factor/question: Can I afford the possible international health insurance (if I’m traveling abroad), and do I have enough money to also possibly afford ‘quarantine’ periods (if unable to return home quickly enough during another outbreak)? Or do I now someone in the area that I could possibly ‘bunk’ with during a ‘shutdown/quarantine’ period?

I do want to travel–but at the same time I know that my ‘new normal’ isn’t going to consist of constant travel (I do have a couple of pets to consider), but if I plan accordingly, I should be able to do a non-local trip every couple of years once things are better under control (more countries being able to vaccinate their citizens), and I feel safe leaving the house again.

While I have a nice ‘bucket’ list of places I’d still like to visit–if you’ve been to a zoo or an aquarium, where is you favorite?

No Comments Day TripsHistorical SitesNational ParksNature PreservesoutdoorsPandemic2020PhotographyReflectionsState ParkstravelZoos/Aquariums

Turtles & throwback photos: celebrating national trails day

Did you know that June is the ‘Great Outdoors Month’?

It started as the ‘Great Outdoors Week/end’ in the late 1990s under President Clinton, and was expanded under the presidents that followed. It has only been the past two years (since 2019) that it was officially designated as the ‘Great Outdoors Month’ by Congress.

It was designed as a way to get people outdoors and being active, plus showcase how outdoor activities are economically beneficial as well for everyone.

Within the month, there are also ‘specific’ days that get celebrated as well, such as:

National Trails Day (1st Saturday of the month–so for 2021, that would be today), and National Get Outdoors Day (2nd Saturday of teh month, so this year it will be on June 12th).

So, today is National Trails Day which was established to promote awareness to the massive trail system in the country that is maintained by the local, state, and federal governments.

Luckily, I live just a few blocks from a great walking trail–Boomer Lake (the trail goes all the way around, plus there are mini-paths that branch off from some of the sidewalk). While there are still areas that I haven’t really explored (during the summer there are ticks to be worried about, and the the cold temperatures in the winter), but I do try to get out on the trail at least once a month (if not once a week). I’m also going to try to get to Sanborn Lake and see what type of wildlife is around there as well sometime this year.

Red-eared slider seen sunning itself at Boomer Lake

There are other hiking trails that are nearby at one of the larger area lakes, but not within walking distance. Plus, walking/hiking the trails at Lake McMurtry requires you to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes. At least at Boomer Lake, it is only water snakes (and I don’t get close to those either).

When we managed to get up to northern Minnesota for vacation, there were always numerous hiking trails on the north shore of Lake Superior, and then just walking the roads around the area lakes also allowed for nature photography and watching. Depending on the time of year that we would go up there–it would either be in time to look for waterfalls, or take pictures of the different wildflowers growing.

Following the river (which I’m pretty sure was in Temperance River State Park)

One nice thing about hiking along the rivers, you could see where they entered Lake Superior:

Temperance River entering Lake Superior

Sometimes you can even follow the trail all the way down to the mouth of the river. Then you are able to see all the rocks that have collected over the centuries.

Smooth rocks in the river

I do like trying to find agates on the beach–on the rare occasion I’m successful, but most of the time I’m not (though since I’m not a geologist–I may have missed quite a few of them).

Wildflowers

I’ve managed to do several other small hikes over the years (these will possibly be their own pages under the travel section–coming soon[in addition to possible pages for the these hikes as well]), and hopefully will be able to do a several more in the future.

Where is your favorite hiking trail located, and is it an easy, medium, or hard hike?

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Photography Challenge Day 3: The Great Blue Heron on the hunt

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is a familiar bird–it’s the great blue heron.

Great Blue Heron at Boomer Lake

This was one of the first birds that I made a page for under the birds, birds, and more birds section of the blog. This is also one of my constant photography ‘targets’ when I’m walking at Boomer Lake. I may not always see one–but I’m always on the look out for one.

Great Blue Heron starting to stretch out its neck

I’m always on the lookout for great blue herons at Boomer Lake for a couple of reasons: 1) there are several that fed/hunt at the lake, at one point I think I counted six different birds; 2) they’re usually in different areas of the lake–therefore different ‘poses’ are possible; and 3) they’re just majestic birds that I like to photograph.

I saw this one in the brush in one of the little ‘coves’ of the lake as I was walking across the bridge. I noticed that it was walking slowly around the edge of the ‘cove’ and looking down–so it was looking for something that was bigger than the minnows that were probably swimming around its legs.

Great blue heron stretching its neck and looking forward

While it stretched its neck out like it was going to strike and grab something–it never did, it just walked around, stopped and waited–probably for me to leave it alone to hunt in peace.

The great blue heron will probably show up several times throughout the photography challenge–especially as we move into summer and I manage to get at least a weekly walk in at Boomer Lake. My hope is that I manage to get enough pictures of them in different areas of the lake, that I don’t feel like it is the same ‘bird’ constantly–even if it may be the same heron a time or two.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Final Heron and Egret pages are now live.

So over the weekend I managed to get the last four pages (to date) up for the herons and egrets.

This also means that I’ve managed to get pages posted for all birds from the order Pelecaniformes that I’ve gotten pictures of outdoors.

Great Egret peering into the water shortly after dawn at Boomer Lake.

The final four bird pages that were posted this weekend covered the Great (or Common) Egret, the Little Blue Heron, the Tricolored Heron, and the Reddish Egret.

Little Blue Heron walking through the brush at the birding and nature center, South Padre Island TX

Out of these four–I’ve only seen the Great Egret in two locations (South Padre Island & Boomer Lake in Stillwater OK). The other three have been spotted solely down in Texas during a summer vacation years ago.

Reddish Egret in the bay at the birding and nature center in South Padre Island TX

So there are still several members of the Ardeidae family that I haven’t spotted and would like to get a picture of and they include: the American bittern, the Least bittern, the snowy egret, the cattle egret, and the yellow-crowned night heron.

Tricolored Heron in the bay at the birding and nature center in South Padre Island TX

In terms of the Pelecaniformes order, there are in total ~110 species around the world and I’ve seen 12 of them–which means I’ve seen/spotted roughly ten percent of the order in the wild. Goal will be to get that percentage up to twenty-five to thirty percent (which means spotting another sixteen to twenty-one species in the wild).

Moving forward, my goal is to publish two to three bird pages a week, in addition to at least one blog post announcing which pages are up as well.

The next set of birding pages to be added will cover the woodpeckers (and there will be two new pages in addition to the pages on the order & family), then on to the hawks, eagles, and kite group (with quite a few additional pages added), and finishing up with the hummingbirds (currently will pages for the order and family).

Once I’ve gotten caught up those pages, I will start working though a master list I’ve created of all birds (seen within the US and currently the UK) I’ve gotten pictures of in the wild.

No Comments bird watchingnatureNature PreservesPhotographytravel

Photography Challenge Day 146: The white false garlic

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is another early spring wildflower: the false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve), and also goes by the names of crow poison.

This is one of the more numerous wildflowers up at Boomer Lake in the early spring time, it looked like the entire field was covered with them.

Numerous blossoming white false garlic

It will bloom in the early spring, and potentially again in the fall (now I have something to keep an lookout for on my walks this fall). It is called false garlic, because it looks like a wild onion but lacks the onion odor.

It is a native wildflower to the south plains and south eastern states (basically from Arizona east to Virginia), and it’s blooming schedule is March through May, and then again possibly in September and October.

It can also be found growing in Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile as well.

I wonder that even though it doesn’t have the garlic/onion odor—would it have the garlic/onion flavor? This could be a possible native wildflower to plant in the yard to help naturally deter the moles from coming through and destroying everything—it is something to look into.

It would also be interesting to try to find the origin of the other common name–crow poison. Just a quick google search didn’t really turn up anything–it might require looking into older botany papers and books to see if origin (or even old wise tale) about the other name. My hypothesis: someone (years upon years ago) found a dead crow in the middle of a field of false garlic, and though it ate the seeds and died; they therefore named the flowers crowpoison.

That is one of two main reasons why I haven’t done much gardening over the years—the moles have a habit of eating the flower bulbs (didn’t realize they liked tulips as much as they did until they ate like two dozen tulip bulbs the second year we were living here). The second reason why I haven’t done much gardening—is the soil—it is really nothing more than solid red clay, and it is a pain to dig in. You need to add in some much extra mulch and topsoil and hope that you’ve added enough extra that the soil will actually drain and not drown the roots of your plants.

It’s looking like it could be August before I really try to do any type of even weeding of the front garden—starting Tuesday it’s going to be triple digit weather for at least 10 days—and that means I may not even get my morning walk in at Boomer Lake next weekend (depending on what the temperature and humidity is at 7am).

Starting tomorrow I’m going to try to do another week of pictures that follow a certain trend—something for me to think on tonight and most of tomorrow.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography