St. Gregory’s Abbey Field Trip April 6th 2019

Abbey Grounds with a Redbud

Becky Emerson Carlberg

St. Gregory’s Abbey was the site for birdwatchers this chilly, moist Saturday morning.  The gray clouds hung low in the sky, but not one drop of rain fell during our field trip. 

Horned oak galls have dominated a pin oak by the Labyrinth.  The old tree is covered with woody wasp shelters that house the developing larvae of the cynipid wasp.  Although they appear as tumors, the wasp galls tend not to destroy a tree unless it is heavily infested, as is this tree just leafing out.  Now would be the time to rake and remove all twigs and leaves and apply fertilizer.    

OBU is taking over Benedictine Hall for classrooms as well as the theater.  The Green family (Hobby Lobby) purchased the university side.  Soon all the streets will have names of the Green family, etc. 

A large multi-purpose building on the abbey side is under construction for future use to support the abbey mission. Blue bird houses and eggs are currently being sold locally. The world depends on birds!

The “Fotogenic” Four Toed French Freeloader

A dark duck winged rapidly away from the new overflow pond to the south that catches uphill water from the Abbey.  The pond is 8 feet deep at the dam, but plans are afoot to drain and deepen it.  We heard chickadees, wrens, saw lots of robins, a pair of scissor-tailed flycatchers, a pair of bluebirds, some starlings who were told to go away, red-winged blackbirds and at least six cardinals hanging around the chicken coops diving in and out getting food.  Smart birds.  The French Faverolles rooster was in his own cage and seemed to pose as his picture was taken!  The four toed Faverolles have not been good producers and are called “four toed French Freeloaders.”

A roadrunner poked its head, then body, out from the redcedar hedge.  Gold star moment. Mockingbirds flitted from the ground up to the wires above.  Doves appeared and cooed here and there.  Brown-headed cowbirds were out searching for nests.

At the other side of the old tree-lined swimming hole flew one Great Blue Heron up and out of sight.  Canadian geese were quietly camping at the eastern edge.  The striped skunk meandered along the base of the pond and rapidly disappeared into the trees.  Frogs sang, hidden by the vegetation.

Trifolate Orange in Bloom

A bald eagle is known to be in the area.  Hawks keep an eye on the chicken grazing area.  We walked past a Trifoliate orange tree in full bloom mode.  The lemon scent of the flowers was light and delicate.  Jungle fowl are being raised somewhere on the premises. The meadowlarks kept singing in the open fields beyond, but we just could not locate a single bird.  Standing by student housing we heard the clear song of said bird, crept over to the hedge, peered through the branches and saw, sitting on top of a small tree, this meadowlark as proud as punch. 

Meadowlark field to the east of beehives and daffs (or are they Jonquils?)

Nearing the end of our trip we paused to look at the camel tongues jutting out from the former Student Center.  The imaginatively named camel tongues (cow or lamb tongues) are downspouts that direct water from the roof away from the building. The Crabapple tree was covered in deep pink blooms.  The question is what is the difference between a daffodil and jonquil?  The conclusion:  jonquils have multiple blooms on one stem and a stronger scent.  Of course there is a daffodil called Narcissus jonquilla and all daffodils are in the Narcissus genus, so a jonquil is a daffodil and a daffodil could be a jonquil. 

Camel’s Tongue

If you  are interested in having your property certified as a Wildscape in Oklahoma go to:  https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/wildlife/wildlife-diversity/landscaping-wildlife

The National Wildlife Federation also has a wildlife certification program:  https://www.nwf.org/garden-for-wildlife/certify

St. Gregory’s Abbey is a tranquil place to observe the birds and wildlife. It was a great field trip.

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