Friday, April 08, 2016

Enid's Weldon Bird Sanctuary isn't for bird watchers; Butterfly Park isn't for butterflies.

It's spring enough for me, and my blog regulars know that I like the wide variety of colorful birds that visit my back yard seasonally.  I've posted pictures of them here periodically and I've posted them elsewhere on the web in albums I've called "Backyard Zoo". So I thought I'd mosey on down to the Weldon Bird Sanctuary to see what other birds I could see there.  On a map, there's a stream that runs through it and I was expecting to see a few plovers like I've seen elsewhere in town, to one side or the other of West-most Garriott. Killdeer, specifically.


In my yard, I routinely get more American Goldfinches, Towhees, Mourning Doves, Ringneck Doves, Blue Jays, Cardinals, red headed House Sparrows, English Sparrows, woodpeckers (Flickers, Hairys) Mockingbirds, hawks, Orchard Orioles, Vireos, Thrashers, Carolina Wrens, and even Starlings than I saw at the Weldon Bird Sanctuary.  I saw one Robin, one Grackle, one marsh finch of some kind and one sparrow.  It's the sparrow that served up the final word by way of editorial on this place, but I'll get to that part soon enough...

This sanctuary was established some time in the 1960s and this sign stands in testimony to its age.  It does have another sign posted by the City of Enid, but it's the regulation uniform City of Enid sign stating name like a boring dog tag.

Now, unless you're talking about prairie grassland birds, birds by and large like trees to perch in, nest in, and survey the ground in when looking for a meal, right?  Well, take a look at the first picture I posted and look to the right of that sign (the left is where private residences are).  The big shade tree is on the border of private property, and to the right of that, there's not a tree in sight big enough to throw shade on a grasshopper.  When you walk through the premises, you'll find a couple of large trees, like a willow growing over the mostly dried up stream area, and two or so others, but the remainder of the big trees are mainly on private property, which is where you CAN see starlings.  Even the starlings prefer to avoid the sanctuary. Seriously.

A clearer view to the right of the older sign.
Sure, go ahead and make the argument that not all trees have fully leafed out yet. Tell me how many large trunks you can see here. You get the idea. Walking through the area you'll discover that despite this sanctuary being in existence since the 1960s, what you see the most of are saplings that clearly haven't been there the entire life of this refuge.  What flourishes here are tripping hazards galore.

Red industrial garden hose stretches as far as the eye can see. The aforementioned willow tree doesn't have a large trunk. Voila.

If you're out frog watching, though, that's a different story. I've posted a number of pics of those on Google Plus already.

The stream is too dry to be streaming, so yeah, that's a lot of algae in there because the water has been stagnant for quite some time.  And I just HAD to make a GIF of one of'em...

 There's a huge turtle that calls this place home, too.

Oh, the muddy stagnant place is paradise if  you're a turtle. Or a frog. It's a little more hazardous for frogs, though.  As I walked along the channel, the frogs I startled squeaked in protest and promptly jumped into the water, but one of them jumped into a plastic shopping bag instead of the water he was expecting, and a struggle ensued.  There's $$$ being blown on the saplings, there's $$$ being blown on the watering that you'd think should be naturally adequate near a stream because of the relatively high local water table, but what's glaringly obvious is that not one penny was spent in keeping the place clean.

As for the refuge bird who had the last word on the quality of this bird refuge, he'll follow this fellow--the only grackle on the premises; I've seen more grackles than this in any given parking lot of any given strip mall along Garriott:

Now finally-------and I do mean FINALLY------the refuge bird with the last word on this subject:

The grass showed signs (odor, mostly) of being sprayed with lawncare herbicides, clearly hazardous to birds. It's a good thing that the stream area wasn't sprayed, but there's always a risk of drift.

April 17 mini-UPDATE not on this topic: Monarch Larvae Monitoring at this MLMP site begins today because one wild Honeyvine has emerged after the long overnight soaking rain. Milkweed emergence date is what determines the start of a new season, and here it is. WOOT!

April 30 mini-UPDATE: Finally figured out where the corner of Sequoia and Senica actually was (don't EVER try to go there on a school day in the morning or the afternoon!!11!!)--it's on the backside of a school and there's a road circle you enter there, and what the circle encircles is a diminutive patch of lawn grass with monkey grass, with no sign to indicate what the dickens it actually is. There's a memorial sundial stand there, without the actual sun dial, and a memorial faux headstone placed in memorial as well. A footbridge over a blond colored brick and an exceedingly drippy water faucet.  A person was out in the yard and I inquired as to the nature of this patch of whatever this was, and the response: Butterfly Park.  Not a butterfly in sight, and no wonder--not a blooming flower in sight, either. I've already had sulphurs, azures, Painted Ladies and various skippers in MY yard. Yeah--it's still not warm enough to be inviting to Monarchs.

A close-up of the topless the shade...

Oh, but how do I know it's supposed to be a sundial if the top isn't there?  There is a busted fastener in the center of the thing, for starters, and then there's this:

And now please note in my first photo of "Butterfly Park" that there's been a sapling planted, as if a topless sundial could do with more shade.  Perhaps the location so close to the "Bird Sanctuary" will be found to attract more birds like the trees that used to be downtown did until the City started whining about all the bird poop to the point of crafting an ordinance requiring downtown businesses to keep the bird poop cleaned up...and then it was pointed out that the birds will still poop on the cars.  Many of those trees, paid for and landscaped into downtown by a previous City administration, were ripped up, leaving all those tripping hazards (and trash traps) where the trees used to be.

Ahhhhhhhh, good ole Enid.

Birdie, birdie, in the sky
Why'd you do that in my eye?
I don't care, I don't cry--
I'm just glad that cows don't fly.

Cinco de Mayo miniUPDATE: News in the back yard bird zoo, folks. My blog regulars know that I occasionally get a visit from a Towhee, and it's somewhat of a special occasion when that happens.  Today, I didn't see one but I heard a bird call that sounded sort of familiar but different, so I went on an online birdcall hunt.  The call matched that of a different kind of Towhee I've not seen in this area before: the Eastern.

I've also heard the first-of-the-season calls of the Mississippi Kite, so...summer's not far behind.

May 8 UPDATE, bloomin' privet edition: Butterflies and birds and bees swarm around the privet when it's in bloom, and so do wasps and flies.  Everybody insect who is anybody insect parties like there's no tomorrow when the privet blooms, and a bluejay has made a nest in the thing to boot.  When I first posted the PS about "Butterfly Park", white clover was blooming and there should have been at least a couple of Gray Hairstreak butterflies, like there was in my own early clover, but there wasn't even that.  Or the White Cabbage, or the Question Mark, or the Red Admiral, or the Painted Lady, all of which were in my yard at the time I visited that park...oh yeah, and one black skipper.  Oddly enough, I haven't seen the usual number of skippers that usually (nearly) blanket the privet when it blooms; perhaps it's been unusually cool for May, for too long...which might explain why I haven't seen any Monarchs yet, either. I saw exactly one Black Swallowtail yesterday, but not since.

Mama Bluejay's nest in the privet. Top bit of blue plastic in the nest indicates where Mama's eyeball is. The black streak behind the eyeball is typical Bluejay marking...and by now you should also be able to see her blue cap, flattened.

I don't expect any park to plant privet even though it's a favorite of butterflies and birds alike--it's high maintenance.

Gray Hairstreak in my yard
Common Buckeye
Red Admiral

A Silver Blue wrestles with a clover blossom

Cobweb Skipper

Cobweb Skipper sticks its tongue out at you!

Got a better shot at Mama Bluejay this time

Cardinal baby just fledged in the hedge

A nest of 3 robins in the yard.
Mama finds fat, juicy meal for the three in the nest.

Zooming in on the trio in the tree.
Did a little climbing while Mom was out hunting and got a better view.
This line marks the date of May 22, by which I can add to my yard's bird list the Carolina Wren, who just gave me all kinds of what-for; it wasn't long before I found out why: she's got fledglings in the shrubbery, too.  Went in to grab my camera, and you can bet she still held a grudge:

An Orchard Oriole taking exception to the Mississippi Kite in a dive-bomb attack. My area is a better bird refuge than Weldon is, and the birds know it.

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