Tag: naturewalks

Hiking and Kayaking within the Buffalo National River area

Another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is live under the travel tab. This week was highlighting our first trip to Arkansas, when we spent a few days in the Buffalo National River area.

Looking at the Buffalo River and the cliffs

My dad decided he wanted to do something a little different for our mini-vacation that year–and that was to paddle down a portion of the Buffalo River.

Showcasing what approximately ten miles of river looks like.

We managed to spend a couple of days exploring the area (hiking along various trails that followed the river), before we worked up the courage to actually put our kayaks in the water and head down the river.

As shown on the above map, we put our kayaks in the river at the Ponca site, and paddled/floated down the river for about 10 minutes until we got ‘out’ at Kyle’s Landing (luckily we had someone drive our van down there so we could get back to the cabin).

It was an interesting trip, and I learned quite a bit–such as inflatable kayaks probably weren’t the smartest choice of kayaks to use, class II rapids aren’t ‘baby rapids’, and I shouldn’t freak out when I flip the kayak.

One of the main rapids seen on the river

I would love to go back and visit the area again (and perhaps spend a little more time in the area), possibly spend more time hiking than floating down the river, but I am able to say that I did something that month that I’d never done before: kayaking over class I and II rapids in an inflatable kayak.

Wildflowers seen in the woods around the Buffalo River

Curious to know if you’ve been to the Buffalo River? If you’ve visited the area, did you just hike or did you kayak/canoe/float down the river and how far?

No Comments fitnessHealthnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

The ‘duck-like’ rails: American Coot & Common Gallinule pages are live

So another series of bird pages are live under the bird tab.

This week, I managed to add pages for the order Gruiformes, family Rallidae, and then for the following species: the American coot, and the common gallinule (also know previously as the common moorhen in most bird books).

The pages for the order and family are ‘short’ (less than 300 words), and I decided that I could add more information and update the pages throughout the year. I figured that it was more important in actually getting the pages ‘up’ than having a ‘perfect’ page–I’m slowly getting better at the whole progress over perfection.

American coots swimming at Boomer Lake

Of the 138 species that make up the family Rallidae, nine can be found within the United States. Though spotting roughly a little over half of them (five of the nine species are rails) will take quite a bit of patience on my part (it is easier to spot a coot, gallinule, or crake than it is to spot a rail). Of the remaining forty-five percent (four of the nine species)–I’ve managed to spot two: teh American coot (which is present at Boomer Lake, basically every winter), and the common gallinule (which I saw on a trip down to South Padre Island, Texas years ago).

Common Gallinule and chick grazing

It always amazes me when I see the coots out on Boomer Lake and I remember that they aren’t ducks, but members of the rail family (since they swim and occasionally ‘dabble’ like ducks), but once you see their yellow-green legs and lobbed toes, you realize you’re not looking at a duck.

If I want to try to spot the purple gallinule, that will require another trip to the gulf coast or Caribbean. Spotting the sora might be as difficult as spotting a rail (they’re not quite as secretive but pretty close), though they are a migratory species through Oklahoma–so I might be able to spot them close to the banks of either Boomer Lake or possibly Sanborn Lake this fall (if I’m willing to be closer to the ‘weeds’).

As I mentioned on the various pages in terms of the photography goals: overall I would like to get a picture of a member of each family (and for the Rallidae family–a picture of the other North American species, plus a picture of one on each of the other continents), and possibly a picture of one grazing with the young or possibly trying to take off in flight.

Next up in terms of bird pages will be either the order/family/species for the cormorant and freightbird, or the mourning dove and rock dove (feral pigeon).

Have you managed to see a rail in the wild? If so–where were you, and how long did you have to wait for it to come out of the thicket?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

New World Vulture Pages are Live: Turkey & Black Vultures

So I realized that I probably didn’t get anything posted last week here on the blog.

I could blame it on the weather–we had the polar vortex and about a foot of snow to deal with from I think the 4th/5th (cold temps) up through this last week (the almost foot of snow came down from the 14-16).

The weather was partially to blame–because when it is super cold, I usually fall to my ‘default’ which is to curl up under a blanket and binge read series (more on that later). But truthfully, I was just having a little trouble focusing on things–something that I’m working on.

Today I managed to get caught up on the ‘raptor’ pages under the bird, birds, & birds tab.

Turkey vulture stretching it wings

There was one more group of ‘raptors’ that I had pictures of and that group was the New World vultures in the order Cathartiformes.

As mentioned on the pages–there is a single family (Cathartidae) that makes up the order, and then only seven species within that family.

Of the seven species, I’ve managed to get pictures of only two: the turkey vulture and the black vulture.

I find the turkey vultures to be unique–depending on the area of Oklahoma they can either be year round residents, or migratory visitors. Where I live–they’re migratory visitors who really enjoy soaring over Boomer Lake.

Turkey Vulture soaring over the house

I’ve only spotted the black vulture while on vacation in Arkansas a couple of times–it’s range in Oklahoma is just the far southeast corner of the state.

Black vulture spotted in Devil’s Den State Park

I’ve also come to respect the difference in camera types–the pictures of the black vulture were taken with my small hand-held Olympus digital camera that only has a moderate zoom function. The turkey vulture (and majority of the other birds) pictures were taken with my canon camera that I have several different lens for, which gives me greater range for picture taking.

Since this particular group of birds are only found in the New World–I’ve managed to see two out of seven or 28.5% of the species. If I can manage to get a picture of the California condor in the wild–that would take me to three out of seven or 42.9% of the species.

The one big birding goal–get a picture of each species in this particular order, with the huge goal of each picture being taken in the wild (which could be a little problematic for the California and Andean condors since they’re both endangered and the number in the wild is quite low).

Have you seen a California condor in the wild? If so where?

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