Birding (after a fashion) at Cowlington Point, OK

Vicki and I don’t have much claim to be birders. We have a nice set of binoculars and a pretty good birds of North America guidebook. But we don’t have to be serious bird-watchers to really get a kick out of it.

Red-bellied woodpecker, not that you can see the faint red on the belly. I think this one is a male, since the red on the head goes all the way down the neck.

Our last stop in Oklahoma was at the Cowlington Point Corps of Engineers park on the south side of the Kerr Lake, part of the Arkansas River navigation system. We saw and heard a variety of birds, including two varieties of woodpeckers, Baltimore orioles, Canada geese and their goslings, red-wing blackbirds.

Canada geese graze on the grass. Don’t forget the goslings. I think I’ll name one Ryan.

While I was focusing on photos, Vicki had a blast watching the cedar waxwings in the top of a tree right above us. The pair of birds had a stem or branch with seeds on it and were passing it back and forth, holding it while the other pulled off a seed and ate it, then passing off the stem so it could get a bite of its own.

Cedar waxwings gather for an early brunch right above our heads.

The hairy woodpecker is related to the downy woodpeckers we had in Tulsa. It came to a knot on a tree not 10 feet away and pecked away. And of course, while I had the binoculars, the camera was in the trailer!

The Oriole in all his orangish glory.

Our binoculars are far and away the best we’ve ever used. It’s the Athlon Optics Midas ED ( , and it is sharper than my regular vision. It’s hard to think of anything better. We got them a few years ago, back when the price was almost reasonable, but if you have need for binoculars, we can vouch for these.

Goldfinch? I think so.

As for the photos, I have a new-to-me Nikon lens (AF-S 18-200 VR zoom). It’s a nice lens, a full step above the old lens I had, but I was somehow wishing for a giant telephoto lens like you see used by photographers at NFL games. I paid maybe a 20th of what one of those lenses would cost, so I need to be happy with what I have. 

Cowlington Point campground review

For us, this was the right park at the right time. Weather was wonderful in the 10 days or so we stayed at the end of April 2022. More importantly, it was close to the grandkids who live in Spiro. They came out for burgers for lunch and a visit one day, then we took them into Fort Smith for belated birthday and Christmas shopping. 

Burgers and grandkids. Great combination

Cowlington Point, at least at the end of the month, was primarily used by folks out for a few days or weeks of fishing in the Arkansas River. 

Like a lot of Corps campgrounds, it could use some repaving and some drainage work, but the roads were acceptable. The county roads leading to the campground were particularly rough.

We had picked campsite 5, which was less than ideal, but not bad enough to want to move. The location was good, and the parking pad was pretty level, but the uphill slope was pretty bare and would send a wave of mud and debris onto the parking pad with each rain.

Home, home on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.

The biggest negative really was the state of the bathrooms and showers. I’m not sure they were cleaned at any time while we were there. The cigarette ash on the floor of the stall on one day was still there two days later. Vicki refused to return to the women’s restrooms.

For future reference, I will try go get one of these sites: 3, 4, 10, 11, 18 or 19. There are other good sites, but those would fit our needs best. 

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