An OK Road Trip

For my annual spring road trip, I decided to head to northern Oklahoma this year. Yesterday afternoon and evening, I wound southwestward through the karst landscape of Missouri under cloudy skies; only the new green leaves and pockets of white dogwood brightened the journey, which was halted in Springfied due to torrential rain and intense thunderstorms.

By this morning, a foggy haze remained but the skies were clearing as I entered northeast Oklahoma. A massive flock of cormorants had departed Grand Lake and were on their way to summer homes across the Great Plains. Cutting away from I-44, I headed west on U.S. 60 and, just past Bartlesville, climbed into the Osage Hills, a southward extension of the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas; as expected, scissor-tailed flycatchers, the State Bird of Oklahoma were abundant on the ranchlands that blanket this ridge and valley landscape.

Dropping from the Osage Hills, I crossed the sandy bed of the Arkansas River at Ponca City (the River is dammed just upstream) and continued westward across the red soil of Central Oklahoma. Zigzagging over the plains, I encountered the expected mix of eastern bluebirds, meadowlarks, barn swallows and raptors; highlights were a huge cloud of cliff swallows along the Cimarron River, a few groups of cattle egrets feasting among the heifers, two roadrunners and a large flock of migrating yellow-headed blackbirds, weighing down a power line west of Stillwater. Tomorrow I plan to explore my primary destination, the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Enid.