I keep track of all the birds I have seen on this wilderness ridge where I live and there is a huge list after living here more than 30 years. Several are very rare. The rarest of all showed up about 15 years ago this month… a bird never known to the Ozarks a hundred years ago. It was a female roadrunner, crossing my garden and then the gravel driveway, moving along to never be seen again.

Every time I get a call from someone insisting he saw a hen pheasant in the Ozarks, I know what they actually witnessed… Wiley coyote’s nemesis! I thought for a while that the one on my place, 40 miles north of Springfield was the northernmost range of these desert immigrants, but I have learned that there have been a couple sighted 20 miles north of here. On the north side of upper Bull Shoals, along a gravel road leading to the Big Creek Resort, I have seen an abundance of road-runners in the summer and fall. What in the heck do they find to eat in the winter? Look up those birds on the Internet or in books. Unbelievable creatures.

I hate television… but I watch old westerns by taping them so I can run through the commercials without seeing or hearing them. What I like to watch at night more than the old westerns is the British Broadcasting Corporation’s films of nature all over the world. It is spectacular filming of life everywhere that people aren’t, the oceans, deserts, high mountains, jungles, etc. It gives me hope, and shows me forms of life I never dreamed of. Gives me knowledge of the greatness of God’s creation where it still is not damaged or destroyed.

On those BBC programs I have seen hundreds of fish, and beautiful birds that I never would have dreamed existed. Last night I saw something I would have laughed at, had someone told me about it; a camouflaged horned viper in the a desert of India that had an duplicate of a spider on the end of its tail to attract birds or mice or whatever. That was one of the most evil looking creatures I have ever seen.

Then there were big blue-faced, snub-nosed monkeys in the Himalayan Mountains that lived in the snow. They were as big as most humans. And I have seen birds on that regular program that are so beautiful and strange it amazes me. I can’t believe the millions of creatures that exist on this earth that are spectacular examples of a Creator none of us can understand. Without BBC we would never know of them.

There is a big mess going on down on the upper Buffalo where a month ago 1500 very mad Arkansawyers gathered in Jasper to protest a big idea being floated by the Walton brothers who now control Wal-Mart, and Johnny Morris who owns Bass Pro Shops in cooperation of course, with the National Park Service. The Waltons and Morris want to create what they are calling a “Park Preserve” on the Buffalo, attempting to add land to National Park Service boundaries along the river. Morris has never acquired any land that I know of which benefits the public more than it benefits him. I sent him a letter asking him to tell me where he has done that for free public access and it is as yet unanswered.

From BBC film, snubnosed monkey and horned viper.

He has bought up land adjacent to the MDC-owned Peck Ranch, and state employees worked on that land, paid by our tax dollars to make it desirable for the elk that the Conservation Department brought in. Each fall the MDC makes nearly $100,000 out of selling five elk tags. One of those five tags has gone to Morris in the past, to sell or give to friends. Now he wants to add land on the upper Buffalo, which is home to a good-sized herd of transplanted elk. Folks down there are seeing eminent domain being used by the National Park Service to take their private land. But if I were Morris and the Waltons I would back off their big idea on the Buffalo River. I have talked to some of those folks and they are MAD, MAD, MAD. Those backers of the plan didn’t show up at the meeting, and that was a wise move. I will write more about this when I can get more info.

Please read other columns of mine on my blogspot, larrydablemontoutd oors. You can write me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com.

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