Author Archives: Alan Bates

Skywatch Friday – The North Woods at Oxley Nature Center

A week and a half ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, I went on a hike at Oxley Nature Center’s North Woods area. I love the North Woods area because it is beautiful, the trails are well maintained and hardly anybody besides me goes there even on a nice weekend afternoon.

It’s kind of a walking meditation.

Be careful while you are meditating and walking though. This thing will give you a headache.

The staff and volunteers are always tweaking and improving things on the trails.

It’s got water views and benches.

And what I call tree tunnels cutting through the woods. I love to come here when it is windy like it was on my hike. The woods are thick so there is no wind on the ground but you can hear the wind as it moves through the tops of the trees.

Later on in the spring, the reflections will be prettier.

I was hoping to see deer, not today!

And the end.

I try and go on all the trails during my visits to the North Woods. That entails taking some of the trails twice. That’s alright.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday.

White Pelicans and More on the RiverParks Trails

I went on a bike ride the other day on Tulsa’s RiverParks trails. I generally like to take one of my better cameras on the rides in hopes of capturing some critters.


I saw a great blue heron and took a photo through the vegetation along the shoreline.

Later on, on I came across this rookery of American White Pelicans on a sandbar out on the river.


There were a bunch of them and they were very skittish as I walked around trying to get a photo through the trees and brush so I didn’t try and work my way to the riverbank to get better photos. I figured they would all split if I tried that.


So I moved back and forth trying to see what I could do. These are not too bad.


They always seem to be on the wrong side of the river from me but this time they were right by me.


Here is a photo of me from my go pro clone camera on my bike. I guess I could have tried to not be so bright and yellow.

And by the way, I saw more evidence of beavers along the river.

And now on the home front. This is Lizzie the Kitten. She is no longer a kitten but she is still very sweet.

And earlier this week it was National Puppy Day. I celebrated by chasing our Pomeranian puppy Kodi around the house with a broom. He and I both had fun. Please don’t think less of me.

I wore the little guy out. He kind of hops around now when I get the broom out wanting to play some more.

I’m linking with Saturday’s Critter’s. Go check it out!

Skywatch Friday – Turkey Mountain Hike of Mysteries

About a week and a half ago, on a sunday on the final day of Oklahoma’s spring break I went to Turkey Mountain for a hike. Spring break means busy!! So I started at the very northwest end of Turkey Mountain at the YMCA. No crowds there!!! Just badge in, if you are a member, or pay a small day fee and go.

I saw more people than usual but many less than if I had gone to the main Turkey Mountain parking lots. The Y’s trails and Turkey Mountain’s interconnect.

I was looking for some structures built by the mountain bikers maybe about 20 years ago plus or minus. They made some pretty incredible biking structures. They are in ruins now.

Back in the day, Turkey Mountain was a no mans land. Did these guys and gals get permission and permits and submit plans and such. Nope they just brought a bunch of lumber out and built it, and experimented and modified as time went by. Them mountain bikers are a hardy bunch. When a call goes out for help on a trail work day they show up in droves ready to work. Hikers and trailrunners not so much.

I found a pipeline owned by one of my previous employers. Companies wouldn’t build in such a manner these days. Boring technology has got so good they would just bore under it. They now bore way under archeological sites now. Solves all sorts of problems with mitigation and such.

And then Pepsi Lake. Pepsi Bottling company had a bunch of truck chassis’s on the dam and Turkey Mountain people called and asked if they could move them and away they went in a couple of days. Nobody knows why they were there to begin with.


The Mexican Plum blooms were out.

From there I went just north to Mooser Creek. It forms the northern boundary of Turkey Mountain. The Turkey Mountain people say that Mooser Creek is how beavers get to and from Turkey Mountain.

So here is looking north from Mooser Creek. This used to be the main entrance to Turkey Mountain back in the day. I used to park there every now and the but Pepsi has kind of taken it over. This another mystery of Turkey Mountain. Nine years ago a couple hikers found a human skull right where I was standing to take this photo. The police said that it had probably been there two years or so. Whenever I am in this area I always expect that I’ll find a rib or something. Not today though.

What I did though was notice that the pipeline company had cleared their right of way on the south side of Mooser Creek headed east. So I walked down it. I had never been down that way before. First thing was I saw this bicycle basket hanging from a tree.

And evidence of busy beavers. The area was more expansive than I had thought. Lots of evidence of old homeless camps.

Got as far as I could go without swimming. The hairs on the back of my head were standing straight up and although it was a pretty scene I retraced my steps back.

Later on in the hike I went on the top of the cliffs. This is a photo of all the trucks at the Pepsi Bottling Plant. It is a huge facility.

And then later on passed again the deep hole in the ground with the camo ductwork coming out. Who knows what you would find down there. There have been other deep holes found on the mountain. Speculation is that people were digging for Spainish gold. Apparently there was a guy back in 70’s selling treasure maps.

And I found this downed electric pole out in the middle of nowhere. Way back when the mountain had small ranches and farms on it and a lot of oil wells. People lived up there and it had a quite an outlaw reputation with moonshine stills and such.

I also found this hole lined with rock. I have no explanation. It would take a lot of work to build this. Tulsa gets so much rain that any hole you dig is going to be quite muddy much of the year.

And right next to it was this foundation. I don’t have a clue what it is for.

And not far away found this thing that looked almost like a burial marker. I didn’t turn it over. I was afraid I would see an inscriptions kind of like, “Here lies the body of a nosey photoblogger..”

And then I went back to the Y. I only covered 2.9 miles but I saw a lot of stuff.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Shadowy Shots at Home and on the Trail

Our tiny five pound plus Pomeranian puppy Kodi gets lost in the shadows sometimes.


Fresh blooming Mexican Plum stands out from the shadows at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center

Shadows casting across a trail sign at Oxley.

Because of our dry spell, trees are casting shadows instead of reflections across a dusty dry lake bed.

I”m late but I’m still linking with Shadow Shot Sunday 2.

Saturday’s Critters – Home and Away

First up our puppy Kodi and cat Lizzy. They love to play and seem to enjoy each others company. Kodi is getting bigger and stronger versus Lizzy getting better at wrestling. She has developed a takedown that she uses on him sometimes. It is fun watching them.

Kodi is getting bigger and stronger all the time. We start him at puppy school in a couple weeks. We all know that they should rename dog school as owner school right?

Kodi is still very small. The smallest dog we have ever had. We found out that we can just park him in a laundry basket if we need to confine him a short while and his crate is not available.

woodpecker 6-gigapixel-scale-4_00x

Still got my trailcam going in the backyard. I think this is a downy woodpecker.

squirrelproof feeder take one

This looks like a squirrel but cannot be a squirrel because it is feeding from a squirrelproof bird feeder.

robin on the ground

We are getting lots of robins scratching around for food under the feeders.

rabbit at night 2

And we get rabbits at night.


I captured a red shouldered hawk on our neighbors roof. They like rabbits. I’ve seen them this year land in our front yard and walk into the hedges and come out with baby rabbits and mice. Hawks have to eat to I guess.

I saw a goose in the parking lot earlier this week. It proceeded to wander on the main avenue nearby and somehow did not get run over.


I went on a hike the other day and spotted this pair of geese. I think they must be nesting or something because they didn’t move much and were giving me the stinkeye from clear across the pond.


And a fuzzy photo of a mallard paddling around the same pond.


The same hike, I came across robins. This one blended into the tree it was perched on.


This one was on the ground scratching around.

That’s a wrap this week!! I’m linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters. Check it out!

Skywatch Friday – Lake Bixhoma

One of my favorite hiking spots close to Tulsa is Lake Bixhoma. The lake is a water supply lake for the city of Bixby and it has some very rugged land around it. I’ve never circumnavigated the lake because the trail is rugged and the upriver side of the is almost always under water.


The first bit of trail is actually paved. There is actually picnic grounds and restrooms and such but all that is abandoned now. I am thinking that part of the reason for the abandonment is rockfalls off the cliff. Here is recent fall.


Still the first part of the trail is walkable.


Here is some of the abandoned infrastructure.

After the picnic grounds the trail is no longer paved although still not too bad.


And then it got very technical. Too me technical means lots of rocks.


Got to the upper end of the lake. Can’t cross here!


So I followed the creek up and found a couple of possible crossing spots. If it hadn’t been so cold and if I hadn’t been alone and over a mile from the trailhead, then I could have done one of these, maybe. About here is where I saw my first snake for the year. Some sort of water snake that slipped into the water quickly as I approached. I don’t think it was anything I would worry about.


Here is the other crossing. Going further upstream was out of the question because it is private property. So I turned around and headed back.


I am always amazed at the stuff I see on trails. What in the world is the story behind this? I can only guess.

I hate out and back hikes so when I came to this fence corner and saw a trail going up the hill, off I went. I figured I knew where I would be going. Famous last words right.

I found this trail sign that I couldn’t read.


The trail got a little rough.


I found me some spectacular trees though. And I made it back to the car. My shortcut saved me about 0.2 miles I figured.

So kind of a short hike but I had a good time. When things dry out a little more, and get warmer, I’ll be back. I will probably try the other way around the lake.

The skies were mainly gray I know but I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.

Critter Update from the Backyard and Beyond

From the Backyard TrailCam

male cardinal

A male cardinal coming in for a landing

female cardinal

And his lady friend a minute or two later


This squirrel is walking with purpose

rabbit night

This guy freezes

Out and About

Some turtle basking action at Hunter Park
Ducks paddling away
Geese and Ducks say hello at Swan Lake (No swans around)
Kodi is very distracted, all the time.

At Woodward Park in the Daffodils, Kodi with my wife and son on a family outing last week.

At Home

Lizzie catching a nap in the front room.

From the Air

Kodi is not sure that he likes drones.

That’s it for this week. I’m linking with Eileen’s Saturday’s Critters.

Skywatch Friday – First Ride of the Year

Toward the last of February we had a warm spell here in Tulsa so I decided to forego the gerbil activity at the gym and get the old bike, air up the tires and head out on the Riverparks trails.

Downtown Tulsa

I went from the south end clear to the north end without stopping so the Bear Fountain pic above was where I started and this pic of downtown Tulsa is at the north end.


I turned 90 degrees from the above pic. We have lots and lots of homeless people here in Tulsa. It is sad and getting worse.

And then I headed back south. I stopped at lots of these sculptures to check them off my warmarking list. Check out It’s a gps enabled hobby kind of like geocaching.

Anyway, 14+ miles down!!

I am linking with Skywatch Friday.

Bonus Content


Another jigsaw puzzle I did on my Ipad.