Category Archives: Wildlife

Wild Wings

Long distance fliers from the north spend much of the winter at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge and Washita NWR in western Oklahoma.
Snow geese prepare to land on a wheat field in Washita NWR on 12-18-2013.
Snow geese prepare to land on a wheat field in Washita NWR on 12-18-2013.
These are all snow geese, but the one on the right is a  juvenile, blue morph. Photo made at Washita NWR on 1-2-2014.
These are all snow geese, but the one on the right is a juvenile, blue morph. Photo made at Washita NWR on 1-2-2014.
The two birds at the top are adult, blue morph snow geese.
The two birds at the top are adult, blue morph snow geese. Until recently the blue morph variant of snow goose was considered to be a separate species known as blue goose.

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A large flock of snow geese shown rising from a wheat field.
A large flock of snow geese shown rising from a wheat field.

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Thousands of snow geese take wing after feeding on a wheat field at Washita NWR. It is not uncommon for 50 or 60 thousand of them to be on the refuge at one time.
Thousands of snow geese take wing after feeding on a wheat field at Washita NWR. It is not uncommon for 50 or 60 thousand of them to be on the refuge at one time.
This and the remainder of the images in this post were made at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This photo of snow geese, made just after sunrise on 1-13-2014 shows motion blur in the wing-tips due to the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/250 sec.
This and the remainder of the images in this post were made at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This photo of snow geese, made just after sunrise on 1-13-2014, shows motion blur in the wing-tips due to the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/250 sec.
The warm color in this and the preceding and following images is a result of early morning light.
The warm color in this and the preceding and following images is a result of early morning light.
These are white-fronted geese. They are named for a small white area on the front of the head.
These are greater white-fronted geese. They are named for a small white area on the front of the head.
This photo shows Canada geese, sometimes incorrectly called Canadian geese, in the foreground and snow geese in the background.
This photo shows Canada geese, sometimes incorrectly called Canadian geese, in the foreground and snow geese in the background.
These ducks are male common mergansers. The females have brown heads.
These ducks are male common mergansers. The females have brown heads.
Sandhill cranes are very large birds, much larger than geese. During migration they can fly over 8,000 feet high  with their 6.5 foot wing span.
Sandhill cranes are very large birds, much larger than geese. During migration they can fly over 8,000 feet high with their 6.5 foot wing span.
Sandhill cranes fly in front of the moon at 8:42 in the morning of !-20-2014. This image is not photoshopped by combining two images. The large size of the moon is a result of using a long telephoto lens.
Sandhill cranes fly in front of the moon at 8:42 in the morning of 1-20-2014. This image is not photoshopped by combining two images. The large size of the moon is a result of using a long telephoto lens.
These are white-fronted geese, with the exception of the second from the top, which is a Canada goose.
These are greater white-fronted geese, with the exception of the second from the top, which is a Canada goose.

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A Boiling Springs Summer

A selection of images from Boiling Springs State Park made during the summer of 2013, presented in chronological order.

Fox Squirrel
Fox Squirrel
Shaul Lake
Shaul Lake
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit

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White-tailed Fawns
White-tailed Fawns
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Widow Dragonfly
Widow Skimmer Dragonfly
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Doe And Fawn

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White-tailed Buck With Antlers In Velvet
White-tailed Buck With Antlers In Velvet
Mother Raccoon
Mother Raccoon
Young Raccoon
Young Raccoon
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Buck In Velvet
White-tailed Buck In Velvet
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
White-tailed Fawn
White-tailed Fawn
These two white-tailed fawns are not siblings.
These two white-tailed fawns are not siblings. It is somewhat unusual to see fawns of such different sizes.

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Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
White-tailed Fawn
White-tailed Fawn
 All images on this site are copyright © Larry D. Brown and may not be used in any manner without permission.

On The High Plains Of Cimarron County

Most, if not all of Cimarron County, Oklahoma is at 4000 feet or higher elevation and contains the highest point in the state at 4973 feet. The climate is semi-arid and averages only 17 inches of precipitation per year. The southern and eastern parts of the county are mostly flat short-grass prairie and farmland. However the northwestern portion is far from flat and contains some of the most interesting topography in Oklahoma, known as Black Mesa.

This is a typical scene in northwestern Cimarron County, a flat-topped mesa formed of black volcanic rock with a blooming cholla cactus in the foreground. This mesa could not be photographed in its entirety from this location, even with a wide-angle lens. This photo was created by digitally stitching three separate images into one.
This is a typical scene in northwestern Cimarron County, a flat-topped mesa formed of black volcanic rock with a blooming tree cholla cactus in the foreground. This mesa could not be photographed in its entirety from this location, even with a wide-angle lens. This photo was created by digitally stitching three separate images into one.

One of many unusual rock formations found in the area.

Some of the many unusual rock formations found in the area.

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This and the preceding images were made on June 12, 2012.
This and the preceding images were made on June 12, 2012.
The cholla is the predominant species of cactus in the area. This one is budding on June 6, 2013.
The tree cholla, which grows up to 6.5 feet tall, is the predominant species of cactus in the area. The buds shown above will open into beautiful purplish red flowers. This and the following photos were made on June 6-7, 2013.
This is a very rugged area and it would be easy to imagine it as the location of a western movie.
This is a very rugged area and it would be easy to imagine it as the location for a western movie.

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The pronghorn is often incorrectly called antelope. It is not a member of the antelope family and is in fact the only member of its family.
The pronghorn is often incorrectly called antelope. It is not a member of the antelope family and is in fact the only member of its family.
A pronghorn doe seen at sunrise on June 7, 2013. The doe has very short horns compared to the bucks more prominent ones. Horns are permanent and unlike antlers are not shed each year.
A pronghorn doe seen at sunrise on June 7, 2013. The doe has very short horns compared to the bucks more prominent ones. Horns are permanent and unlike antlers are not shed each year.
Pronghorns are supremely suited to life on the high plains. Their vision is so acute that it can detect movement four  miles away. Being the fastest animal in the western hemisphere, it can easily outrun any predator and has been clocked at speed up to 70    mph. Running 45 mph is not unusual and it can cruise easily at 30 mph for 15 miles.
Pronghorns are supremely suited to life on the high plains. Their vision is so acute that it can detect movement four miles away. Being the fastest animal in the western hemisphere, it can easily outrun any predator and has been clocked at speed up to 70 mph. Running 45 mph is not unusual and it can cruise easily at 30 mph for 15 miles.
Mule deer does captured at sunrise among yucca plants.
Mule deer does captured at sunrise among yucca plants.
Mule deer get their name from their ears, which are larger than those of the smaller white-tailed deer. They inhabit more open areas than the white-tail, which is seldom seen in areas as treeless as this.
Mule deer get their name from their ears, which are larger than those of the smaller white-tailed deer. They inhabit more open areas than the white-tail, which is seldom seen in areas as treeless as this.
Fog is an unusual sight in the Black Mesa as there is usually not sufficient humidity to produce it.
Fog is an unusual sight in the Black Mesa as there is usually not sufficient humidity to produce it.
The black-tailed jack rabbit is a another speedy resident of the high plains.
The black-tailed jack rabbit is a another speedy resident of the high plains.
Unlike the pronghorn, deer, and jack rabbit, the badger is a poor runner and depends on its strong claws to dig for its food and defend itself from any predators.
Unlike the pronghorn, deer, and jack rabbit, the badger is a poor runner and depends on its strong claws to dig for its food and defend itself from any predators.
It usually digs for its food which consists mainly of ground squirrels, gophers, rats and mice. Few animals will attack the badger because with its powerful legs and sharp claws and teeth, it is more than a match for a lone dog or coyote. However if given a chance, it prefers to back into its burrow.
It usually digs for its food which consists mainly of ground squirrels, gophers, rats and mice. Few animals will attack the badger because with its powerful legs and sharp claws and teeth, it is more than a match for a lone dog or coyote. However if given a chance, it prefers to back into its burrow to escape. They are amazing excavators and it is said they can out-dig a man with a shovel.
The bright yellow flowers of the plains prickly pear are easy to spot, especially as they often grow in large clumps.
The bright yellow flowers of the plains prickly pear are easy to spot, especially as they often grow in large clumps as shown below.

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To view additional images from this area, please enter "Black Mesa" in the search box above and scroll down.
To view additional images from this area, please enter “Black Mesa” in the search box above and scroll down.

In The Wichita Mountains Again

After many visits over a period of many years, I still find the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge an interesting and challenging place to photograph. The ever-changing weather and light conditions and the variety of wildlife and wildflowers means new opportunities and challenges for each visit.

The bison is the iconic animal of the refuge and is the primary reason this refuge was created.
The bison is the iconic animal of the refuge and is the primary reason this refuge was created.
By 1900, only two small herds totaling 550 wild bison remained in North America. In October, 1907 15 head of bison were transported by rail from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge.
By 1900, only two small herds totaling 550 wild bison remained in North America. In October, 1907 15 head of bison were transported by rail from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge.
The black-tailed prairie dog is another iconic animal of the the prairie and finds a welcome home on the refuge. It is generally not welcome on   ranch land as the many burrows in established prairie dog towns can destroy areas of pasture land and create hazards for livestock.
The black-tailed prairie dog is another iconic animal of the the prairie and finds a welcome home on the refuge. It is generally not welcome on ranch land as the many burrows in established prairie dog towns can destroy pasture land and create hazards for livestock. A young animal is shown in this photo.
The collared lizard, commonly called mountain boomer, likes the rocky, boulder strewn areas of the refuge.
The collared lizard, commonly called mountain boomer, likes the rocky, boulder strewn areas of the refuge.
These lizards are often seen sunning themselves on large boulders. The males are easily identified because they are more colorful than females.
These lizards are often seen sunning themselves on large boulders. The males are easily identified because they are more colorful than females.
Many species of wildflowers are found on the refuge. These are the pale purple coneflower and the thread-leaf thelesperma.
Many species of wildflowers are found on the refuge. These are the pale purple coneflower and the thread-leaf thelesperma.
This great egret is wading in a marshy area of Jed Johnson  Lake, one of several man-man made lakes on the refuge.
This great egret is wading in a marshy area of Jed Johnson Lake, one of several man-made lakes on the refuge.
Seven bison can be seen in the distance as thunderheads are building to the east of the refuge at 4:35 PM on May 31, 2013. This is the day the 2.6 mile wide tornado hit El Reno, Oklahoma, about 85 miles northeast of the refuge.
Seven bison can be seen in the distance as thunderheads are building to the east of the refuge at 4:35 PM on May 31, 2013. This is the day the 2.6 mile wide tornado hit El Reno, Oklahoma, about 85 miles northeast of the refuge.
At 5:49 a towering thunderhead is building.
At 5:49 a towering thunderhead is building.
This view is to the north 16 minutes later.
This view is to the north 16 minutes later.

The preceding images were made on May 31, 2013 and the following photos were made on July 1, 2013.

Sunrise on a hazy morning. The haze was probably smoke from the wildfires burning in states to the west.
Sunrise on a hazy morning. The haze was probably smoke from wildfires burning in states to the west.
Female Painted Bunting
Female Painted Bunting
Male Painted Bunting
Male Painted Bunting
The male painted bunting is perhaps the most colorful songbird in North America.
The male painted bunting is perhaps the most colorful songbird in North America.
The scarlet gilia, also known as standing cypress is one of the more showy wildflowers on the refuge.
The scarlet gilia, also known as standing cypress is one of the more showy wildflowers on the refuge.

Spring And Summer Visitors

Some birds visit northwestern Oklahoma for only a short time in spring and fall and some raise their young here but fly south for the winter.

Ospreys visit lakes and rivers in Oklahoma as they travel from their winter homes in south Texas, Central and South America to their summer homes farther north where they nest.
Ospreys visit lakes and rivers in Oklahoma as they travel from their winter homes in south Texas, Central and South America to their summer homes farther north where they nest.
An osprey flies over Ft. Supply Lake looking for fish on April, 29th, 2013.
An osprey flies over Ft. Supply Lake looking for fish on April 29th, 2013.
After spotting a fish, they dive into the water, talons first, and grab the fish.
After spotting a fish, they dive into the water, talons first, and grab the fish.
The osprey's feet are equipped with sharp projections which provide a secure grip on the fish which they always carry with the head facing forward.
The osprey’s feet are equipped with sharp projections which provide a secure grip on the fish which they always carry with the head facing forward.
The "fish hawk" as they are also called are always found near water, except when moving from place to place, because fish comprise their entire diet.
The “fish hawk” as they are also called are always found near water, except when moving from place to place, because fish comprise their entire diet.
A female Wilson's phalarope, a member of the sandpiper family, stops to feed at Ft. Supply  Lake as it migrates northward to its breeding grounds.
A female Wilson’s phalarope, a member of the sandpiper family, stops to feed at Ft. Supply Lake as it migrates northward to its breeding grounds.
Wilson's phalarope photos made May 6th, 21013.
Wilson’s phalarope photos made May 6th, 2013.
The American avocet is a much larger shorebird than the Wilson's phalarope.
The American avocet is a much larger shorebird than the Wilson’s phalarope.
American avocets are summer residents of and nest in western Oklahoma, but as far as I know, don't nest at Ft. Supply Lake where these photos were made.
American avocets are summer residents of and nest in western Oklahoma, but as far as I know, don’t nest at Ft. Supply Lake where these photos were made.
They are easily identified by their long, upturned bill and their striking black and white  markings and rust-colored neck and head. In winter, the adult birds rust colored areas turn gray.
They are easily identified by their long, upturned bill, striking black and white markings, and rust-colored neck and head. In winter, the adult bird’s rust colored areas turn gray.
They are very graceful birds and this one seems to be performing a ballet.
They are very graceful birds and this one seems to be performing a ballet.

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The beautiful little blue heron is a migrant or summer resident in much of Oklahoma.
The beautiful little blue heron is a migrant or summer resident in much of Oklahoma. This one was photographed on May 13th, 2013 at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge.
The little blue heron is much smaller than the more common great blue heron and is more blue.
The little blue heron is much smaller than the more common great blue heron and is more blue.
The black-necked stilt is not often seen at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge where this one was photographed on May 13, 2013.
The black-necked stilt is not often seen at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge where this one was photographed on May 13th, 2013.
The black-necked stilt is obviously named for its very long legs. Only the flamingo has longer legs in proportion to its body.
The black-necked stilt is obviously named for its very long legs. Only the flamingo has longer legs in proportion to its body.

Prairie Dancers

 

Male lesser prairie-chickens, members of the grouse family, perform a unique mating dance each spring. They gather in groups year after year on the same spots called leks, to attract hens by stomping their feet rapidly and inflating and deflating air sacs on the sides of their necks. This produces a sound called booming which can carry for a considerable distance on the open prairie and accounts for the alternate name, “booming ground” for the lek.

These images made on April 30, 2013, shortly after sunrise.
These images were made on April 30, 2013, shortly after sunrise.
The lesser prairie chicken is slightly smaller than the greater prairie chicken and has red air sacs instead of orange as on the greater.
The lesser prairie-chicken is slightly smaller than the greater prairie-chicken and has reddish air sacs instead of orange as on the greater.
The pinnate feathers are held erect when the air sacs are fully inflated.
The “horn” feathers are held erect and the air sacs are fully inflated.
Pairs of males often face each other with skirmishes often resulting.
Pairs of males often face each other with skirmishes sometimes resulting.
One of the opposing males will often jump up and descend on the other with claws extended.
One of the opposing males will often jump up and descend on the other with claws extended.
The lesser prairie chicken inhabits short-grass prairie areas in only five states.
The lesser prairie-chicken inhabits short-grass prairie areas of only five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
A clump of sage-brush is used to get a better view of other males and be more visible to any hens in the area.
A clump of sage-brush is used to get a better view of other males and be more visible to any hens in the area.
All of the males courtship displays were in vain this day as most if not all of the hens in the area are already on their nests incubating eggs.
All of the males’ courtship displays were in vain this day as most, if not all of the hens in the area are already on their nests incubating eggs.
Lesser prairie chicken populations have declined to precariously low numbers and they are now being considered for listing as threatened or endangered.
Lesser prairie-chicken populations have declined to precariously low numbers and they are now being considered for listing as threatened or endangered.
These photos were made on a lek near Glazier, in the Texas panhandle.
These photos were made on a lek near Glazier, in the Texas panhandle.
Many thanks go to Dick Wilberforce for making these images possible by providing access to this lek.
Many thanks go to Dick Wilberforce for making these images possible by providing access to this lek.

All images on this site are copyrighted © by Larry D. Brown and may not be used in any manner without permission.

Winter 2012-13 in Boiling Springs State Park

 

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White-tailed buck photographed 12-25-12
White-tailed buck photos made 12-25-12.

_IGP4905There is no need to feel sorry for white-tailed deer in cold, snowy weather. The hollow hairs in their winter coats insulate so well that not enough heat escapes their bodies to melt snow falling on them.

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_IGP4875White-tailed doe photos made 2-12-2013.

Yucca Plants
Yucca plants photographed 2-20-2013.

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Buttonbush Leaf and Seed-pod
Buttonbush leaf and seed-pod and the preceding six photos made on 2-21-2013.
This and the following photos made on 2-22-2013.
This and the following photos made on 2-22-2013.

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January In Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in south-central New Mexico near Socorro is the winter home to many thousands of migratory birds including ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes.  These photos were made the 20th and 21st of January, 2012.

Snow Geese
Snow geese by the thousands overwinter on the refuge.
Snow Geese Feeding In The Shallow Water Of The Refuge
Snow geese feeding in one of the refuge marshes.
Snow Geese
The darker goose in upper right is a variant called a blue goose.
Snow geese are strong fliers capable of flying great distances non-stop.
Snow geese are strong fliers capable of flying great distances non-stop.

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Snow geese are one of the most abundant waterfowl species in North America.

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Snow geese stay with the same mate for life.
Snow geese stay with the same mate for life.
Northern Pintail Ducks
Northern Pintail Ducks, three males and a female.
Northern pintails are called dabblers because they tip tail-up to feed in shallow water.
Northern pintails are called dabblers because they tip tail-up to feed in shallow water.
The female in center does not have the distinctive markings and long pointed tail characteristic of the male.
The female in center does not have the distinctive markings and long pointed tail characteristic of the male.
Sandhill cranes approaching one of the grain fields on the refuge.
Sandhill cranes approaching one of the grain fields on the refuge.

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They spend most of the daylight hours feeding in the grain fields and marshes of the refuge.
They spend most of the daylight hours feeding in the grain fields and marshes of the refuge.
Sometimes confused with great blue herons, sandhill cranes are much larger. They stand four feet tall and have a wingspan of about six and a half feet.
Sometimes confused with great blue herons, sandhill cranes are much larger. They stand four feet tall and have a wingspan of about six and a half feet. They fly with necks outstretched while herons fly with necks curved.
Sandhill cranes have a red patch on their heads similar to the endangered whooping crane which are white and even larger than the sandhill.
Sandhill cranes have a red patch on their heads similar to the endangered whooping cranes, which are white and even larger than the sandhill.
Sandhill cranes usually fly in large flocks and it is not unusual for them to gather in the thousands on feeding grounds.
Sandhill cranes usually fly in large flocks and it is not unusual for them to gather in the thousands on feeding grounds.

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Bosque Sunset
Bosque Sunset

To see another set of photos from Bosque del Apache, enter “Bosque del Apache” in the search box above and scroll down.

All images on this site are Copyright © Larry D. Brown and may not be used in any form without permission.

Autumn 2012 in Boiling Springs State Park

Eastern Cottonwood, October 15
Rio Grande Turkey, October 29 
Barred Owl, November 5
White-tailed Buck, November 6
White-tailed Buck, November 9
Rio Grande Turkey Hens, November 9
Porcupine, November 10 
Half-grown Bobcat, November 10
Half-grown Bobcat’s Mother, November 10 
White-tailed Buck, November 13 

White-tailed Buck, November 14
White-tailed Buck, November 14 
Sumac, November 14
White-tailed Buck, November 15 
White-tailed Buck, November 15 
White-tailed Buck in Fog, November 19