Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yellow-billed Loon

My day began just after dawn at Washita NWR where I was hoping to track down lapland longspurs. The temp was 21 degrees but sunny. I visited here for the first time last March on my way down to Sonora, Mexico. And like last year I did not find many birds, especially the geese that the refuge is known for. I did find my first harris's sparrows of the year but no laplands.

From there I headed back towards Oklahoma City stopping in the El Reno area to try again for laplands. After driving many gravel farm roads the best bird I could find was a rough legged hawk. At least I was able to go into El Reno to Johnnie's Grill whose claim to fame since 1946 is their onion hamburger. I sat at the counter and watched the crew produce its specialty. The burger starts as a preformed lump of meat that is smashed flat on the grill by a modified mortar trowel. The griddle man said a normal spatula just is not strong enough, so they took a trowel and shortened the metal by cutting off the tip half.

After smashing the meat the griddle man adds a good sized handfull of thinly sliced onions that are then mushed into the meat acting like a glue to hold the meat together. The combo is flipped, cheese is added if it is a cheeseburger, and the buns are lightly "pressed" on top of the combo. The full cooking time is somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. When done, the burger is passed over to the set up guy who has prepped the plate with whatever fixings you ordered. In my case it was lettuce, tomato and bacon. The fry guy had already delivered a basket of onion rings ahead of the burger.

On the counter you have mayo, mustard and ketchup, plus salt and pepper. While I ate my burger I observed that about 2/3's of the burgers had onions on them, and about 2/3's of the burgers, with or without onions, came with cheese. There were alot of hot dogs with slaw and chili ordered as well. As for the burger I consumed, it was a solid burger but I would only rate it as good. The onion rings were quite good. I would say that the Jucy Lucy I had in January in Minneapolis was better tasting.

After lunch I drove on into Oklahoma City to meet the local birder who has been so helpful the past 2 days. A woman birder that I met earlier this year in Texas had given me his name. I had only spoken with him on the phone so it was nice to meet him in person. We met at Lake Hefner which is a large water supply lake for the city. An immature yellow-billed loon had been seen off and on for about a month here, so we went to look for it. He had seen the bird earlier, and today we were successful in finding it. It took us more than an hour to locate it, but then we had very good looks with excellent late afternoon light on it. Since yellow-billed loons are another rare bird here in the lower 48 states, finding this bird was icing on my Oklahoma "birding cake".

Today added 10 more birds for this week and 2 birds to the YTD list. I am flying to San Francisco tomorrow. I will be having dinner with my son who happens to be in the Bay area this week. We are going to have dinner at a restaurant that I have been eating at for over 30 years. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Flying to San Francisco? I thought you were driving now, when do you go back to get your truck? I hope we can find some longspurs when I'm out there in March, they sound tricky.