Saturday’s Critters – Mainly Little Ones Today!

For Father’s Day my wife and son treated me with a trip to the Tulsa Botanic Garden. I took my macro lens along and captured way too many bloom photos. I especially like to capture the insects on the blooms like this fritillary.

_DSC0367

And lots of bumble bees out and about in the garden just pollinating away.

_DSC0358
_DSC0343

And a wasp or two.

_DSC0347

And I saw a lizard of some sort darting among the plants. There was also a cool as a cucumber garden cat but I was a neglectful blogger as I did not get its photo.

IMG_3465

I took a hike on Turkey Mountain. I didn’t see any big critters but I captured this fritillary in the leaf litter.

IMG_3463

And a dragonfly hanging out on a fallen tree.

I’m really enjoying my Merlin Bird App. While hiking I would hear different birds and call up the app and it id’s them for me. I would look and look and only every once in a while spot one but the foliage would be way to thick to get a decent photo so I would move on.

DSCF0223

I am still having fun with my trailcam at home. I move it around. I get lots of images but very few “hits.” That’s okay. I love this male cardinal.

DSCF0206

I also like to get birds in action like the one above coming in and the one below with the female cardinal leaving.

DSCF0155
DSCF0114

The squirrels love the feeders and tend to dominate. My wife and I will periodically go outside and tell the squirrels to get lost.

My wife and I went on a bike ride on Tulsa’s River Parks. Stopping at what we call the Bear Fountain is always a refreshing rest stop.

I am linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters.

Skywatch Friday – Geocaching, Baseball, and a Mystery

Nowdays I do my geocaching on Sunday mornings. Nobody else is up for hours so I am not missed when I leave. I was chasing one at a children’s playground. I love the tree I found on the way.

The playground was a no go. I think I know where it is but I am not going to look for it when there is even one kid anywhere close to the playground. Time was, when my son was little I would turn him loose in the park and look for the cache. He’s 26 y/o, hates geocaching, loves sleeping in, and doesn’t like playgrounds any longer.

I went to the County Fairgrounds and found a cache associated with this train engine. It was my third try.

I found another one at a church where they had multiple “Little Free Libraries.” They were not just about book but things like petfood, snacks, toys, etc. I thought the concept was pretty cool. Pro hint, the cache was close to these but not in any of them.

And I found a cache associated with this Little Free Library. I have never seen a Midcentury Modern Little Library before. Have you. It was in a section of Tulsa dominated by MCM houses.

And hey, we had Flag Day recently so I got up early and flew my flag. There was only one other person in the ‘hood who flew his flag and it was upside down, on purpose and he flies it every day. I am not sure what that honors.

And for Father’s Day Heather and Logan took me to a baseball game. I am down with that any time.

Nothing better than live baseball. Nothing worse than televised baseball. Do you see a baseball and Civil Rights legend out in left field?

I’ll make it easier on you! That’s Jackie Robinson. One of the benefits of the Tulsa AA Minor League team being associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And hey, I promised you a mystery!! Here it is. A herd of blue and grey plywood bison out grazing in the Osage Hills north of Tulsa. More on this to come.

That’s Skywatch Friday for this week!!

Tulsa’s Backyard Blaze Trail Race – 2024 Edition

As reported earlier I walked/trotted a 5K race on June 1 here in Tulsa: The Backyard Trail Race at the Herman and Kate Kaiser YMCA on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain. That Y calls themselves, Tulsa’s Backyard, and if you have been there you can see why. It is a beautiful Y situated on the edge of an Urban Wilderness. Tulsa RiverParks, who administers the Turkey Mountain Wilderness Area, call themselves “Tulsa’s Front Yard.” So now you know that Tulsa has both a front and a back yard. And sorry, I haven’t even started the post yet. I am already way off topic.

The Y has a lot going on. A huge deluxe swimming pool, sports areas, splash pads, a gym, a ropes course, kayaking, fishing, hiking. They got it all going on.

And a really nice lodge with offices, reception, and checking in a large multipurpose room, verandas. It’s great.

And a really nice scenic pond.

There was a light cool fog in the area that morning.

And then we had the start for everybody. I’m not sure how many raced. Not that many but those that did had a good time. I stood right by the starting line and took this video. When I was done I stepped to the left and crossed the start line myself.

By that time, everybody was way ahead of me.

Didn’t bother me in the least. Do I look bothered?

So I got to hike by myself during the cool morning. I trotted the sections that were smooth, flat and slightly downhill.

Don’t you just love a twisty turny trail in the woods? I do.

We went through a small meadow.

And alongside some pipeline construction. The original route went on the right of way but had to be rerouted during construction. Trail race organizers have to be flexible that way. No whiny babies. It turns out that my most recent employer was letting my previous employer use their right of way for the their own pipeline after they lost their right of way due to some highway construction. Tell you what, when I was still working we talked cooperation but we didn’t do it. You would just string it out until they figured out something else in pure desperation. In the Oklahoma natural gas industry you had to have sharp elbows. It was rough!! Now I guess everybody is holding hands and singing Kumbaya. I don’t quite believe that and I don’t think you should either. And here I am digressing again.

Anyways, I digress, We started at the north end of the photo above and headed south. You can see the big mix master we went through in the middle before we headed back. I passed a few people so I didn’t finish last. The main thing is that I finished, vertically. I didn’t have to crawl past the finish line.

I got myself a bottle of water and a pancake. I could have had more but all I wanted was one.

And they had some decent swag: A nice shirt and a wooden branded in medal. I am not a fan of medals but I like this one. I’m using it for a bookmark. People are all wound up about race medals now days. Hey give me a nice tee shirt and I am happy.

I’ll be back next year if the run this race again. It is a great, well run, race with a wonderful vibe.

I’m linking with My Corner of the World.

Backyard Trail Camera Shadows

I got a trail camera that I use just for the backyard. Mostly I train it on our bird feeders or baths and occasionally on the ground to see what kind of critters are lurking there. It is motion activated and during windy times tree and shrub branches can set it off. It’s a numbers game. I’ll literally get 1000 to 2000 shots and I get maybe two to four that are worth anything. I don’t do video any longer because screening and editing video just takes too long.

This time though I captured a couple of bird shadows.

DSCF0366

I love the grackle shadow on the fence. The grackle is above and to the left of the shadow. Grackles are just noisy riotous birds. I wish they would go away. They do make cool shadows though. There is another bird to the left of the feeder and at the same angle. We don’t see his shadow though.

DSCF0435

I think I finally figured out this photo. The Shadow shows a long bird. Who knows though because at nearly noon, the sun is pretty high. I’m thinking that is from the bird up above and to the left of the shadow. It looks like a hawk or something. Maybe a small sharp shinned hawk. We have lots of prey for them. I’ve seen the hawks land on the ground and walk into shrubs and come out with baby rabbits. We also have squirrels and lots of birds.

I am linking up with Lisa’s Shadows Shot Sunday

Hiking at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center

The other day I had some time so I ventured off to north Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center to get some nature time. I wibbled and wobbled for about two miles slowly and saw a few critters.

From the porch at the visitor center overlooking the pond I found this bale of turtles swimming about. I googled what a group of turtles is called and it said that a group of turtles is called a “bale.” I love the names for groups of animals. My favorite is a “murder” of crows.

IMG_3427

After the visitor center one enters a meadow where I found this black swallowtail butterfly getting something to eat. I saw lots of these critters in the park but they are really hard (for me) to photograph in the woods with the alternating shadow and sunlight. The meadow was a lot easier.

IMG_3450

I saw lots of deer including this young one who didn’t like me and headed off across the mud in the creek behind him. I didn’t mean to stress him out.

IMG_3457

There were lots of deer about. I’ve heard tell that the staff at Oxley think they are overpopulated with deer. It wouldn’t surprise me since every once in a while standing in a spot with good visibility I sometimes spot two or three widely separated groups.

IMG_3439

I saw this deer on one of the trails. At first, due to its muddy feet, I thought it was the deer I saw earlier in the creek mud. Turns out that was a male, you could see the horns beginning to grow, and this one doesn’t have them.

IMG_3444

I stalked this great blue heron for several minutes. It was fishing and didn’t want its photo taken so it kept moving away from me.

IMG_3448

I finally got a photo of it out in the open.

There were lots of birds out there but I had trouble spotting them. I used my handy dandy Merlin bird ID app to identify them. Still couldn’t see them through all the tree foliage and brush.

IMG_3443

I did spot this bird and got a photo of everything but its head. I think it is a downy woodpecker.

IMG_3453

I also found this waddling of ducks in my wandering. Ms. Google tells me that a group of ducks on the ground is called a “waddling.” A “badelyng” or “badling” are also acceptable terms.

I had a great time. You know one species I didn’t see once I got away from the parking lot? Humans. Not a single one was sighted out on the trail. I love being retired and getting to do outdoors stuff during the week. I still feel like I am playing hooky after all these years.

I’m linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters.

Skywatch Friday – Backyard Dronephotography

We’ve been having scattered cloudy days in Tulsa. Those potentially turn into decent sunset shots. So if I can try and be home then and launch my elderly mini drone up to about 150 feet or from my backyard and see what I can see.

Tulsa Sunset

Sometimes you luck out and get some color and texture.

I love those days. The color lasts only for a minute or two and then it is gone.

I’ve learned to turn the drone to look east as well to see the soft pink of the “reverse sunset.”

Sometimes you don’t get any pink but the reverse sunset is always worth looking checking out.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Shadowy Bike Ride

I went for a bike ride the other day. The sun was up and the route was sunny. You need sun to make shadows right? Seems like I am always showing my bike shadows.

And right nearby shadows showing the Tulsa RiverParks logo.

And further on in the ride the RiverParks has installed some flower shaped musical devices for kids and childish adult bike riders. They make not only a pleasing sound but cool shadows.

I am linking with Shadow Shot Sunday

Tulsa Tough – 2024 Edition – FC Tulsa Arts District Criterium

Tulsa Tough is a series of bicycle races held in Tulsa every year during a long weekend in June. They have distance races of various lengths over two days. They have a bunch of short races close to downtown called Criteriums where the racers are on a closed course of a mile or two and they go round and round a bunch of times. One races is in the Blue Dome District, one in the Arts District and another on Riverside (Crybaby Hill). They have a bunch of categories from kids divisions to men and women amateurs of various ages and then the professional divisions. They also have a five mile or so “Townie Ride” that is free, so you just show up with your bicycle and ride.

Just the way things have been I always go check out the Riverside criteriums on Sunday. For one thing it is home of the infamous crybaby hill which is more of a drunken party with a bicycle race going on. (Check this link about my first visit to Crybaby Hill in 2015.)

I’ve only participated in one event. That was in 2019 when I rode in the “Picolo” event. The shortest distance event they offer at 32 miles or so. It kicked my butt pretty hard and I didn’t even finish. I was close to the finish line and I passed my car and said, heck with this I’m done so I pulled out of the race, and loaded up my bicycle and went home. Read about it here.

I had a conflict this Sunday so I checked out the Arts District Criterium on Saturday. It’s not near the party but it is still lots of fun.

Oh look at the time! I’ve droned on and on and spent the whole time yakking about me instead of the race I went on Saturday. Figures though, aren’t blogs just about the writer? So I’ll shut and show you the photos I took Saturday afternoon. I had places to be so I wasn’t there very long.

_DSC0221

The thing about the criteriums is that riders are all very good and in great shape so they get kind of bunched up. At least right at first and it takes time to separate the faster ones from the slower ones.

_DSC0225

I like the intense competition. Everybody is in it to win it and they don’t want embarrass themselves.

_DSC0235

And also they are very close to one another. If somebody falls or makes a wrong move then a bunch of people are going down also

So I had found a spot right on a turn where nobody else was so I set up and was taking photos wondering why nobody else was there. Along comes a course marshall and we start chatting and finally ask him if I was okay where I was and he said sure no problem. Then he says hey you know something if you could get your camera down close to the ground and shoot up that might make a more dynamic photo.

_DSC0254

So I did experimented with that a little bit with my camera down below the barricade but not intruding on the course and wow. I thought it made a big difference.

_DSC0279

I had put the camera on sport mode so when I pressed the shutter it would take a bunch of photos until it buffered out so I ended up with a ton of photos but I only kept a few and am posting just a few of them here.

The guy had a bunch of other tips and then had to go. His last words were you need to remember that the place you are taking pictures from is also a good place to crash and if you are down low right behind the barricade and you get hit, it is going to hurt. I said yep I had already figured that out.

_DSC0294

So any way I got to see a great bicycle race and learned something at the same time. And got out unscathed.

How about you? Have you been to any bicycle races lately?

I am linking with My Corner of the World

Rough Green Snake and More – Saturday’s Critters

Found this little guy on Turkey Mountain. I think it is a rough green snake. I see more of these kind of snakes on the mountain than any other. Most of them are just a few inches long, this is the biggest one that I have ever seen. Maybe a foot long at the most. I love the graceful coils. It seemed kind of curious to me with the raised head. I tried to tell him to get off the trail or it was going to get stepped on.

Our purple coneflowers in our front flower bed. Purple coneflowers are the state wildflower of Oklahoma. These have a bumblebee and a moth on them.

A curious deer checking me out while I was geocaching in a pecan orchard near Tulsa. The orchard is huge and has lots of deer. A couple years ago I saw a huge herd of them running through it. This time there were lots of signs in the orchard. They are subdividing it for houses so kiss those big beautiful trees goodbye.

And Kodi the Pomeranian. He loves swimming in his little pool on hot days.

We have lots of geese in Oklahoma, especially golf course geese like these.

And how about Mother Goose with her perky little hat.

And big ole rabbits and Alice in Wonderland. (At a local library)

I’m linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters

Skywatching and Other Watching

I launched my drone the other day and went up 50 meters over the back yard. We had a little color for the sunset, not much, but some great clouds.

Sunday morning I went geocaching up in the Tulsa suburb of Catoosa. Came across this ammonia plant. I’m a chemical engineer so I like this kind of thing plus they use lots of natural gas both as a feedstock and for fuel for their processes.

Also in Catoosa, there are lots of pecan orchards up there. People hide geocaches near them and deer like to graze in the grass underneath. That is all coming to a screeching halt soon. They are subdividing this huge orchard. Makes me want to cry.

Went on a walk around Tulsa’s Lafortune Park. A big sprawling park that incorporates a high school and their various ball fields, a regular and par three golf course, several little league baseball fields, an American Legion baseball field, this high school baseball field as well as a softball diamond for the women, a public library, some gardens, an indoor and outdoor tennis complex, a public swimming pool, some great picnic areas and wonderful playparks for kids, and a three mile long walking/running path winding around all these facilities. I love it. Great photo ops.

Still at Lafortune, I love construction equipment.

A pond,

And lastly at Lafortune. My favorite moose.

My wife and I took a 2.7 mile hike at Turkey Mountain. Went by the hub, the highest point on Turkey Mountain. It’s about 300 feet above the lowest point on Turkey Mountain but hey it has a great view.

Looking Happy at the Start!

I ran a 5K trail race on Turkey Mountain last Saturday. When I say I ran it, I meant I walked it although I did trot some of the flat slightly downhill segments. I started out in last place but I passed a lot of people during the course of the race. Funny thing is that when I finished the race there were people already there who I had passed. I didn’t care but that happens in these races sometimes. Nobody cares especially since it wasn’t anybody who was in contention to place. I’ll have a separate post about the race later. Maybe.

So that is about it for this week. I’m linking with Skywatch Friday and My Corner of the World