Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Home through Kansas, 2 stops

November 25, Tuesday

Given the reports of good birds, new species for Kansas which were geting harder to find, I didn't even bother to drive around Cheyenne Bottoms, but just headed for Quivera as soon as I'd had some breakfast. I got in there just as the sun was rising, and the air was filled with geese on the water and in the air as far as I could see, remoter and higher skeins stacked behind one another each time I looked for smaller specks. About two thirds around the tour loop I found the swans, first one pair, then another, the second being an adult and a cygnet. Approaching gradually, driving fifty feet and stopping, then again and again, until I was even and at the closest possible approach, it was easy to see the yellow bill mark on one of the adult pair, making it Tundra. The second pair was a little further, but the pairs converged as time wore on. That gave me a chance to compare head shapes. Trumpeters make a sort of straight line bill to crown, and Tundras are more rounded, at least in the Geographic Guide. Sorta like the difference between Lesser and Greater Scaup. I looked for thirty minutes against different backgrounds as they drifted, and finaly decided they all looked the same, so all Tundras.

Glad I didn't post it, even though I did call Pete Janzen who had the original sighting. A couple of days later another birder got a much better look, with them near the road rather than across the pool, and his conclusion was two of each, the original Janzen call. I wish getting out of there was as easy as getting in. One problem with the GPS mapping is that it sometimes shows roads that have locked gates. I was trying the most direct route out and ran into that situation. The complication was the leg shot deer in the road. It was staggering around, could put some weight on the bad leg, but it was seriously hurt. I went real slow, trying to think harmless and compassionate thoughts, and it got off to the side and let me go by. Then I got to the dead end gate and had to turn around. This time it panicked, running and slipping and falling in the mud, bouncing off barb-wire fencing, and breaking my heart. I hated being there and hated whoever hadn't followed their wounded deer, and hated the whole business. It finally manged to get across the fence, and I got back to the highway to Wichita.

It was fairly easy to find the Scoter site, but it was big water only viewable through a fence at one end. Old sand pits, and the area still very industrial. There must have been at least 500 ducks and coots and what-not out there, and I must have looked at each one at least four times, but none turned into a scoter. I found one other viewpoint but it had intimidating signage and big trucks being loaded by big machines, so I just turned around after a brief look. I was ready to get home, and a few hours later I did.

I considered the trip fairly sucessful, I had added plenty of waterfowl to several state lists, and some other unexpected species, not to mention good visits with friends and some renewed affection with Laura. When I totalled up the total tics at trips end I had 6999. Gadzooks, what a frustration. A few days later at home I had an inspiration to look through some old checklists to see if I'd written anything down in the pre lister software days. For closure, years ago I'd visited Malheur in Oregon, the place of the manager I'd met the first day out, and I'd checked off quite a few species, 56 that I'd never enterd in AviSys. So the count at year's end was 7055 total tics.


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