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Life on the Arkansas River with Deb
Welcome to Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Arkansas River begins high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and flows lazily these days into the fine state of Arkansas, where I was born. This nearly 1,500 mile waterway has had its share of problems over the years, but I’m not going to discuss any of that. I will touch upon the fact that in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a navigation system through locks and dams allows this river to function as efficiently as possible. At this stage, there isn’t much water in it, but there is enough to satisfy wildlife, and as you know, that is what I like to discuss. So welcome to the Arkansas River in Oklahoma and may you enjoy it as much as I have and will in the future.
Rocky Mountain High by John Denver
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My Surprise For the Day
I was transported to this area through the kindness of an Audubon friend, who always manages to find a way to scratch my birding itch. She could not have chosen a better area for me to be while she bicycled the area. As a matter of fact, I was so busy with birds and butterflies, I never noticed that she was gone, and felt that she returned too soon.
Snowy Egrets Galore
The mighty Arkansas didn’t look so mighty, but the first thing that I really noticed was the large population of both adult and juvenile Snowy Egrets. Snowies are some of the most beautiful water birds that I have ever seen, and they have a few quirks, just like anyone else. These are relatively small water birds, part of the heron family, like every other egret. These birds move rapidly in the water, stirring up fish and other life in the mud. They will even move their beautiful yellow feet around on the top of the water to entice the curious, then snatch them up before they even realize what happened.
Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets
Alongside these beautiful Snowy Egrets were just a small handful of Great Blue Herons and about double the Great Egrets. While I was there, every bird was busy seeking sustenance in the estuary, save for a few of the Snowy Egrets that came closer to me, which was an added bonus.
Learn More About the Arkansas River
Butterflies of Oklahoma
There was also a wide assortment of butterflies that would please any discriminating lepidopterist. With all the flowers near the riverbank, none of them was wanting for nectar, which naturally allowed me prime real estate for getting these winged wonders in my lens.
Turtles were upon every available rock sunning themselves, and there were plenty of red eared sliders and a few of the painted variety. What is a body of water without turtles? It's an unhealthy situation, as it also takes turtles and other freshwater life to show the health of the river, lake or pond that one is visiting. It is a good ecological balance to have an assortment of life.
Bald Eagles and Coyotes, Oh, My!
A number of eagles were partaking of the fish that was offered, but sadly, I was not in the best area to photograph them. The sun was nearly overhead, which washed out the photos that I attempted to obtain, but there should be better luck next time.
Fortunately, a couple of coyotes crossed my path, passing right by the herons and egrets on their way to better things. No other animal was disturbed by their presence, which worked out very nicely for all concerned.
The Verdict Is In
Even though it was a very short visit, I had plenty to show for my endeavors, and I must give this section of the Arkansas River a thumbs up for providing a wonderful opportunity for this Lady of the Lake.
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding, and I hope that you enjoy this major tributary of the Mississippi River as much as I did.
Where is Tulsa, OK?
© 2014 Deb Hirt