Sunday, May 20, 2007

Getting to the KOS meeting

May 2, 2007

It took a little while to escape town, always last minute things to fix for someone. Anyway, around 11am I headed for Roaring River State Park in Missouri, just over the border and a famous warbler spot. Payoff too, got four species new for MO, including Golden-winged and Worm-eating. There were also Blue-wings among others, and on the dirt road above the hatchery I found one of the Golden x Blue-wing hybrids. I don't know which one, by the time I'd failed to make it definitely one or the other and realized it was somehow both and neither, it had flown, and I couldn't clearly remember just what I'd seen and what not, and no field guide as usual. I don't carry them now, since they distract me from watching the birds. I'm usually familiar enough with the possibilities and what has to be seen to make distinctions that I look for those markings and remember them for later field guide consultation. For example, on Scaup the important thing is head shape and height, but each fall I have to remember which goes with Lesser and which for Greater, meaning check the book. But I hadn't studied to get the hybrid distinctions.

From there I headed west into Oklahoma and Cherry Creek State Park, sort of ho-hum, but I'd never been there. Did find a Tennessee Warbler which was new for OK. From there north to Baxter Springs, Kansas and the serious business of the trip. It had started raining pretty hard, and by the time I got to the sewage lagoons there it was either stay in the fogged up truck or plod around in the mud. I did both. Did manage to find Blue Grosbeak and Northern Rough-wing Swallow. A couple of Warblers too. It was turning evening so I went over to the other side of the river where there's a small campground. It hadn't even gotten late enough to go to sleep when I started having something like an allergy attack, the wind was blowing from the lagoons, and after half an hour of trying to endure, I said bag this, and started driving again, all the way to Marais de Cyngnes, where they have a little camp ground I like staying in.

May 3, 2007

Had a great morning at MdC. Migrant passerines were easy to find in the tall trees at the end of the road to the campsites, and I walked across the gated road that crosses the wetlands near there. I saw nearly 50 species in about three hours, seven were new for KS, including Lincoln's Sparrow, Blackpoll Warbler, and three Vireos. That got me buzzed. I made several more stops on the way to the meeting site, including Hillsdale Lake, Baker Wetlands, and Clinton Reservoir. Also a research area which forbade access, but as I sat there in the truck staring in, a Broad-wing Hawk flew up and landed on a branch about thirty feet away, then it pounced on a lizard and landed even closer to enjoy a meal. I found Bobolinks on electric wires along a dirt road near Hillsdale, and a Sora and Northern Waterthrush plus others at Baker Wetlands. That was a really enticing place, with a nice viewing blind. I was following Patti and Zimmerman, "A Guide to Bird Finding in Kansas and Western Missouri", which I had read and plotted most of the sites on the GPS software. That made finding places really smooth.

The GPS software, usually DeLorme Street Atlas, is running on a laptop that rests on a little platform on the passenger seat. Four times the viewing area of the expensive dash mounted types, not too expensive, $80-100 with a receiver. It can be set up for voice but I don't use that. I have no financial interest in the company. I have several map files where I've made site plots and am willing to send the draw layers to anyone using the software. I'll put a list in one of the posts. Put a request in the comments on the blog.

Somewhere along there it started raining again, so I skipped some sites and just kept driving until I got to Sycamore Springs. It was such a neat place, a resort built in 1886 with a twenties feel, with a huge skating rink, cabins, a strange small hotel, and camping. The whole place was small but had a surprisingly good variety of habitat, especially the creek that the springs fed. Apparently quite popular with the local kids. I got checked in, I was a day early, and stared birding around since the rain had stopped. Found a Louisiana Waterthrush, apparently nesting by the creek, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. There was a resident Red-Tail, with a nest up a prominent tree, that would break into screams from time to time.


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