Our Next Field Trip

For details contact trip leader John Polo: jpolo@mail.usf.edu

2017 Field Trips

  • Apr. 29 – Couch Park
  • Apr. 30 – Birdathon Big Day
  • May 13 – Wichita Mountains NWR

Field Trips – General Information
The Payne County Audubon Society sponsors free, guided field trips to local birding spots approximately monthly, typically on the first Saturday of the month. All field trips are open to the public, non-members and members alike, and are beginner-friendly. You do not need to be an expert birder to join us for a field trip – the whole point is to have some fun seeing some neat birds and to learn from the other birders on the trip. Although babies and toddlers might not get much from our field trips, we are keenly interested in encouraging young birders which is a point of outreach emphasis for the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab or Ornithology, and the American Birding Association.

  • Beginning 2014, all field trip participants will be required to sign a liability waiver to join us in the field. This is a new condition of our insurance policy. Field trip leaders will have the forms on hand at the meeting location.
  • Most of our field trips are to local parks with easy walking on groomed trails. Participants should be prepared for more rugged conditions, however, by wearing sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.
  • The birds are outside in all weather conditions; we will be too. Unless the forecast calls for icy roads, thunderstorms, or lousy viewing conditions (e.g., fog and rain), we will proceed with the field trip. Although our trips seldom extend beyond 2 hours, participants should have everything they need for 4–5 hours in the field, e.g., sunscreen, layered clothing, water, snacks, insect/tick repellent, and any medications you might need.
  • If you have binoculars bring them with you, but don’t let a lack of optics keep you from joining one of our trips! We have plenty to share, and field trip is great opportunity to try some different binocs to help decide what works best for you.
  • Above all, have fun! Whether you’re a hard core professional or someone just starting out, we’re all in this for the same reasons: birds are beautiful and exciting and they enrich our lives.

Trip Reports – 2017

Sanborn Lake, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Feb 4, 2017 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
41 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  10
Gadwall  4
Mallard  4
Canvasback  3
Redhead  2
Ring-necked Duck  14
Great Blue Heron  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (lineatus Group)  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ring-billed Gull  4
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Mourning Dove  5
Barred Owl  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  7
Blue Jay  7
American Crow  3
Horned Lark  13
Carolina Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  4
Carolina Wren  6
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Eastern Bluebird  3
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  17
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  28
Yellow-rumped Warbler  12
Field Sparrow  2
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  18
Dark-eyed Junco (Pink-sided)  1     Rufous-tan flanks, brown back, and noticeably darker gray mask around eyes and bill.
Harris’s Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  1
Northern Cardinal  11
Red-winged Blackbird  120
House Finch  6
American Goldfinch  18

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34198512

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Babcock Park, 27 August 2016

Some migrants were filtering by late August:

Babcock Park–Stillwater Creek, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Aug 27, 2016 8:05 AM – 9:05 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Payne County Audubon Society field trip
24 species

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  4
Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)  1     flyover
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)  1
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)  X
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  X
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  2
Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)  1
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  3
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  X
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31270252

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Bunting Hunting, July 15–18 2016!

Mid-summer can be a tough time to go birding as many breeding birds have fallen silent and the fall migrants haven’t really started streaming through yet.  But one group of colorful songsters is still out there singing through the hottest days: buntings!

This weekend, we invite you to join us in Bunting Hunting 2016!  You know you love these guys: Lazuli, Indigo, Varied, Painted.  Now go out this weekend and aim to find them in as many different places as you can.

Once you’ve found them, simply enter your checklists – or just your incidental observations – to eBird. That’s it!  The point is just to spend some time generating some great data on the distribution and abundance of the genus Passerina!

Botanic Garden at OSU – 16 Jan. 2016

Seventeen well-bundled participants enjoyed a nice walk around the Botanic Garden at OSU today. Highlights of the 37 species found included nice looks at Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, and Golden-crowned Kinglet.  We were treated to a flyover Bald Eagle shortly before the north wind got the better of just about everyone!

Cackling Goose 10
Canada Goose 38
Mallard 4
Bald Eagle 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Ring-billed Gull 44
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 8
Mourning Dove 1
Barred Owl 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 4
American Crow 3
Carolina Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 4
Brown Creeper 1
Carolina Wren 6
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 1
American Robin 6
European Starling 5
Cedar Waxwing 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 5
Dark-eyed Junco 40
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Harris’s Sparrow 8
White-throated Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 11
Northern Cardinal 2
American Goldfinch 16
House Sparrow 30

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26938129

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Black Mesa, Labor Day Weekend, 2015

Payne County Audubon Society made another Labor Day visit to Black Mesa in Cimarron County again this year. Participants on this trip were John Couch, Les Imboden, Brandy and John Polo, and Samantha and Josh Jones. John C. and Les got out to the state park on Friday afternoon and started the weekend off with nice birds like Bullock’s Oriole and a Golden Eagle.

The weather in that part of the state has been wet this summer and so the normally arid area was very green for September. This productivity translated to a lot of insects and thus, well-fed birds. Lake Carl Etling, located in the park, continues to keep a decent water level, meaning there were quite a few mosquitoes at time, but given the number of flycatchers, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern and Western Wood-Pewees, Vermilion Flycatchers and other songbirds, the numbers were under control.

Les and John C. had 2 camp sites to accommodate everyone and the site the 4 late-comers stayed at hand two large cottonwoods side-by-side, supporting a large limb that had died and broken and been caught in the crotch of the tree next to it. This will come into play further on in the account.

The group hit the road late in the day on Saturday and found a few Horned Larks and Lark Sparrows to start. While driving around to find an Osprey for Les, we came across a few Buteos, one of which we didn’t identify, but appeared to be a Ferruginous Hawk. All the while, American Kestrels were deftly winging through the air at every turn.

We headed into the country north of the state park and close to the Colorado border. A covey of Scaled Quail, a life bird for Brandy, brought the truck to a stop and we jumped out to look around. John P. heard the whispy notes of a Cedar Waxwing and started checking all the tops of the junipers. In a dead juniper about 80 feet off the road, we found 2 adult waxwings and then a few moments later, an immature bird flew in to join them. This immature bird indicated that the pair had apparently bred in the area, an area well south of the “normal” breeding range of the species. We made it into Colorado and Les took the group to Picture Canyon, a U.S. Forest Service location with petroglyphs, where we had a Canyon Towhee and Canyon Wren. At the end of the jaunt, the group headed to a valley that is just north of the scenic overlook on the north side of the lake. This valley in the last few years has proved a reliable place for hearing Common Poorwills at dusk. Unfortunately, the wind didn’t cooperate.

The next morning, Les fixed the crew a great breakfast, and coffee!, and after that meal, we headed off to Easter Pageant, a spot known for Black-throated Sparrows, Western Scrub-jay, a bird that John Couch wanted to find, and Juniper Titmouse. Unfortunately, there were neither of these. There were however Sage, calling!, and Curve-billed Thrasher and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. And one of several Greater Roadrunners that were seen throughout the weekend. Our goal from there was Carrizo Creek, Colorado, to look for Lewis’s Woodpecker. While trying to find the right road, using 3 different maps, a compass, and the wits of 4 people who had visited the area before, we stumbled across the tri-state marker for Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. Brandy and I tried to find this marker the first couple of times we were out there and were never able to locate it.

Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico Marker
John Couch gets a photo with the mysterious marker.

Eventually, we got our road and along the way to Carrizo, we were passing through U.S. Forest Service allotments. I spotted a large playa and Les stopped the truck. Upon hearing about me exclaim about the playa, John C. stated, “we should trespass”, probably the quote of the trip, for those familiar with John Couch’s rich birding history. Please note, P.C.A.S. does not actively encourage participants to trespass. A few of us *ahem* accessed the land adjacent to the playa to get a better look at what was in the water: White-faced Ibis (1), Greater White-fronted Goose (4), Northern Shoveler (>6), Blue-winged Teal (@20), Northern Pintail (1), Killdeer (1), and Wilson’s Phalarope (2). After the stop, we continued on our way to Carrizo Creek.

At the official site for Carrizo, it was pretty quiet. We stopped at two more pull-offs along the creek to look for the Lewis’s Woodpecker, but had no luck. We did find Western Scrub-jay and an apple tree which took care of the group’s hankering for a snack. We wend our way back through Colorado to the state park. After a break, the group walked the park with Bill Carrell of Tulsa and found another Canyon Wren along with Western Wood-Pewee and Vermilion Flycatcher. As the afternoon started to get late, 6 or 7 Common Nighthawks were weaving through the sky. Samantha noted movement in a tree and we came across a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. After dinner, we tried again for Common Poorwill in the north valley, but the wind again worked against us. We played recordings of Western Screech-owl, but had no luck with that species either.

On our last morning, we packed our gear before doing any birding. I had moved my car from where it had stayed parked under one of the big cottonwoods the night before, because I wanted it closer, as there was a possibility of bad weather. The wind had definitely picked up and if a lot of rain and wind materialized we may have needed to make a run for the car. To get their packing moving quicker, Josh moved his car in the morning up to his tent. And good thing he did. Ten minutes after he moved his car, a large section of a dead branch fell onto the place where both of our cars had been parked. The strong winds from the previous night might have done something to loosen the piece from where it was laying.

After getting packed, we walked the short nature trail in the park. The most notable wildlife there was a rattlesnake that crossed the path a couple of minutes after John C. and Les had walked through. We had run into John Sterling, another Oklahoma birding fixture, the night before and he had talked about Regnier Ranch. The ranch had previously welcomed birders, but then a new generation of the family did not extend the same hospitality. The road into the ranch is public and offers the chance for interesting birds. John Couch said that in decades past, Prairie Falcon and Golden Eagle had nested there. Upon the “discovery” of this “new” location, our group drove out to the road and cruised slowly to look for more birds. This ended up yielding Black-billed Magpies calling from the far side of the canyon, but not much more.

With the end of this particular run, the group departed from the Black Mesa area with approximately 68 species. Brandy and I have made the Labor Day trip for 7 years in a row and will probably take a break from it for a while, so this trip, with familiar and new faces was a nice way to put a tradition on hiatus. The list of species for the trip follows:

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-heron
Pied-billed Grebe
Blue-winged Teal
Turkey Vulture
Mississippi Kite
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
Golden Eagle
Unidentified Hawk
Scaled Quail
Wild Turkey
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Unidentified Sandpiper
Eurasian Collared Dove
Mourning Dove
Burrowing Owl
Common Nighthawk
Greater Roadrunner
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
American Kestrel
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood-Pewee
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Say’s Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Cassin’s Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Horned Lark
Common Raven
Black-billed Magpie
Cedar Waxwing (2 adult, 1 immature)
Bewick’s Wren
House Wren
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
European Starling
Northern Mockingbird
Sage Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Yellow Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Unidentified Sparrow
Lark Bunting
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Meadowlark sp.
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock’s Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Saturday, Apr. 4: 8:00 am.  Please join us for a lovely morning along Stillwater Creek at Babcock Park, 19th and Western.  John Polo will lead a walk focusing on spring migrants.  Come get your FOY on!

Babcock Park

27 species total

3 Blue-winged Teal

2 Great Blue Heron

4 Mourning Dove

2 Red-bellied Woodpecker

1 Downy Woodpecker

1 Hairy Woodpecker

2 Northern Flicker

6 Eastern Phoebe

6 Blue Jay

4 Carolina Chickadee

6 Tufted Titmouse

3 Carolina Wren

4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

3 Eastern Bluebird

2 American Robin

1 Brown Thrasher

1 Northern Mockingbird

3 European Starling

1 Louisiana Waterthrush

1 Northern Parula

1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

1 White-throated Sparrow

3 Harris’s Sparrow

4 Northern Cardinal

3 Brown-headed Cowbird

8 American Goldfinch

Saturday, March 7 – 8:00 am in the parking lot on 12th St.:  Field trip to Couch Park.  Tim O’Connell and Jim Shaw will lead a late winter/early spring bird walk to Couch and Hoyt Grove parks.

Screen shot 2015-02-28 at 2.23.30 PM

Our 7 March trip to Couch Park was a celebration of spring, with birds singing and geese and Turkey Vultures on their way north.  Pooling the tallies from our 3 groups gave us 34 species, including this Eastern Bluebird singing lustily with his face to the Sun.
bluebird

Canada Goose  40
Mallard  2
Turkey Vulture  3
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  8
Barred Owl  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  20
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  8
Downy Woodpecker  14
Northern Flicker  6
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  12
Carolina Chickadee  12
Tufted Titmouse  8
White-breasted Nuthatch  5
Brown Creeper  2
Carolina Wren  10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Eastern Bluebird  9
American Robin  12
Northern Mockingbird  2
European Starling  4
Cedar Waxwing  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  16
Fox Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  35
Northern Cardinal  24
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  50
House Sparrow  10

Saturday, February 7, 2015:  Brown Ranch Birdwalk

We’ll visit the Brown Ranch, a working ranch in central Payne County. Trip leaders will be Caitlin Brown and Les Imboden. People who plan to attend should meet at the Boomer Lake dock at 8am. Caitlin will be there to lead the attendees to her family’s ranch and she and Les will lead the group. The morning may be cool, but the weather should be fine for the day. Dress appropriately and bring water; there are no facilities at this location.

*Reminder that beginning 2014, all field trip participants will be required to sign a liability waiver to join us in the field. This is a new condition of our insurance policy. Field trip leaders will have the forms on hand at the meeting location.

Boomer Lake meeting location for trip to the Brown Ranch.
Boomer Lake meeting location for trip to the Brown Ranch.

Brown Ranch Birdwalk, 2/7/15

It's easy to pause for a happy photo when Feb. temps climb to the 70s! Thanks to Caitlin Brown for hosting PCAS on this lovely morning.
It’s easy to pause for a happy photo when Feb. temps climb to the 70s! Thanks to Caitlin Brown for hosting PCAS on this lovely morning.

Complete list of species encountered entered by John Polo in eBird.  Photo by Leslie Miller.

Sunday, January 11, 2015: Birding and Breakfast!

Please join us Sunday morning when Leslie Miller will host (and feed!) us at her home with its wonderfully entertaining feeding stations.
When: Sunday, January 11, 7am – noon (come and go at will)
Where: 5401 Spring Creek Cir. W., Stillwater
Bring: Coffee (Leslie has no coffee pot) and a dish, if you want; also a camp chair, if you have one
Leslie will provide: Egg and sausage scramble, toast, orange juice, hot tea

Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 11.06.51 AM

TRIP REPORT

Birding and Burgers at Pecan Valley

john polo 19 November 2014

Les Imboden’s Pecan Valley boasts 40 acres of Oklahoma habitats, most of it open grass and shrubland with a welcoming pecan grove. Les claims to have Bobwhite on the property and it looks like it would be a suitable habitat, but so far, he has yet to produce a single bird for any of his guests. Regardless of that, it’s always a fun time when he and Susie Taylor host Payne County Audubon Society and the Cimarron Chapter of the Sierra Club for Birding and Burgers.

This year, the temperature was quite nice, but there was a little bit of wind that seemed to keep the birds somewhat huddled up and out of view. With a group of 20 or so guests for the event, Les had planned ahead and secured 2 people to lead groups. Instead of the tried and true leadership of Tim O’Connell and John Couch, he relied on newer members to P.C.A.S., Alex “Golden-crowned” James and myself, to lead the groups. Fortunately for the other people in my group, Jim Shaw and Lisa Elizondo were also around to help spot birds.

On the first part of our foray north from his place, we looked hard for some birds to get our list started. Upon spotting some L.B.J.s flush from some low vegetation, I got the group to huddle up on the trail and then I back-tracked around where the birds had disappeared and tried to flush them into some shrubs that would give a good view. This ploy half-worked as we were able to spot Harris’s and Field Sparrows, as one or two escaped before being identified. At this point, Fidel Atuo joined our group, giving us an excellent pair of eyes for raptor finds.

We continued north and the trail was mostly quiet. We could hear peeps here and there, but hardly found the sources. A Sharp-shinned Hawk buzzed by. Our group pondered an attempt at walking in a line across one of the “quaily”-looking fields, but getting organized never really happened. I spotted a couple of abandoned nests, one that I was quite sure had been a Bell’s Vireo nest, since it had the noticeable vireo character of a cup suspended in a fork and it was placed well inside a small thicket of sand plum, a common practice for Bell’s in the area.

Soon after, I heard Harris’s Sparrow calling from a depression that was surrounded by trees. I walked up to the rim and saw several birds scatter. I called the group over and we picked out more sparrow species along with a Carolina Wren. Having wandered off the trail to this depression and not knowing all of Les’ property well, I thought it was a good idea to get back on the trail and find a pond.

We bushwacked it back to the south and spotted a redtail low over some trees. While watching it, some of our group noticed a much more distant raptor and after spending a minute checking it out, we were able to identify it as a Bald Eagle. A few moments later, we got to one of Les’ ponds. At first glance, there was nothing on it, but after searching the far end, I spotted our only waterfowl for the trip, a female Hooded Merganser. We also scared up two Killdeer at this pond. As we were leaving the pond, we ran into the other group and Northern Harrier picked this moment to glide over some trees.

We made our way further south to the pecan grove to look for the resident Barred Owl. Along the way, we searched a line of redcedars for Long-eared or saw-whet owls, but had no luck. At the grove, Lisa made a good impression of a Barred Owl call, but to no avail. She did spot a Pine Siskin and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We left the grove and walked back to the house. The cattails at another pond held more L.B.J.s, but they stayed hidden, making identification impossible. At this point, it was lunch time. As the other group arrived, we exchanged sightings and Les asked each group for a tally. Alex’s group had 36 birds and mine ended with 35 birds. Les and Susie had prizes for the group with the most birds, beautiful Christmas ornaments shaped like birds.

The sun was strong and everyone sat around, enjoying the comraderie and food. Birding at Pecan Valley, wrapped up with a good lunch, is a great way to spend a fall day.

Trip List for the group led by john polo:
Red-winged Blackbird
Sharp-shinned Hawk
American Crow
Northern Cardinal
European Starling
Red-tailed Hawk (we might have had a subspecies in there)
Harris’s Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Carolina Wren
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Brown-headed Cowbird (flyovers)
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Carolina Chickadee
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
American Goldfinch
Hooded Merganser
Killdeer
Northern Mockingbird
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Swamp Sparrow
Meadowlark sp.
Red-bellied Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pine Siskin
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse

Trip list for Alex “Golden-crowned” James

1 Hooded Merganser
1 Great Blue Heron
2 Turkey Vulture
1 Northern Harrier
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
3 Red-tailed Hawk
2 Killdeer
4 Mourning Dove
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
4 Blue Jay
3 American Crow
3 Carolina Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
2 Carolina Wren
1 Bewick's Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
5 Eastern Bluebird
15 American Robin
1 Northern Mockingbird
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Field Sparrow
1 Savannah Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
3 Song Sparrow
1 Harris's Sparrow
13 Dark-eyed Junco
6 Northern Cardinal
2 Red-winged Blackbird
6 Western/Eastern Meadowlark
1 Rusty Blackbird
4 Common Grackle
2 American Goldfinch

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