If you just take out a map and look at it for a while, you may just come across something that sounds of interest to you. I did before we drove many times between Kansas and Texas and in Oklahoma I saw the Great Salt Plains. It is not too far from Interstate 35 which made for a nice, yet another, side trip off of another major trip. This spot was of interest to me because I felt it was a major resting spot-or destination-for migrant birds.
At this point it is just early October, so there may not be a huge conglomeration of birds yet. But you never know until you look. So we meandered off the main highway for what seemed like hours and hours. In this part of northern Oklahoma, there is not a lot of civilization, and at the time of the evening we were passing through, not much open. However, if one happens to be a prairie lover, this was a nice drive.
The Great Salt Plains (GSP) is a state park and national wildlife refuge. Not only does it serve as a major resting area for migratory birds, it is a fully functioning prairie habitat and permanent home for many species of wildlife. On this wonderful October day, the GSP was very quiet. There were some whooping cranes present, in addition to western sandpipers and plovers. Ken, being the good Eagle Scout, also spotted an ornate box turtle and a snake (too slithery quick to identify). The native grasses where radiantly golden and shimmery with all their seed heads mature and waving in the breeze.
From the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website, http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/saltplains/
“As a major migration rest area for hundreds of thousands of birds during spring, summer, and fall, the Salt Plains protects and manages a diversity of habitat. Migrants feed on the salt brine flies that hatch when water is available. Peak fall and spring migration of ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes on the refuge can number nearly 100,000 birds.”
For my Austin bird and plant loving friends, I recommend a weekend trip to northwestern Oklahoma for a fall or spring migration visit. However, this early fall day was quite pleasant.