In the press release, you can find a link to the Excel file noting the species in trouble, and it is staggering. Think of the species in your part of the world that are regular visitors to your yard, the birds you see at area lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Imagine them gone. Birds we regularly see in Kansas on this list include the American white pelican, red-headed woodpecker, common nighthawk, chimney swift, rufous hummingbird, American coot, American avocet, lesser yellowlegs, Franklin’s and Ross’s gulls, common tern, little blue heron, northern harrier, belted kingfisher, orchard oriole, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, painted bunting, dickcissel, and the list goes on. The last four years did so much damage. Please support conservation in any way you can.
It was a terrific morning for walking in the wetlands. The sunrise was spectacular, and I loved watching the coots eagerly flying across the path and diving into the open water.
I had it mostly to myself and got to see my first of the spring little green herons and an American bittern. The bittern pic is not great, but it’s so good to see them again. There have been so many times I have been standing right next to one and didn’t realize it until they flew away. Such good camouflage!
A great blue heron made some geese very unhappy by standing on their muskrat lodge, but eventually left them to it. I see geese nesting on top of the lodges fairly often. That seems like prime real estate! I’m hoping I will get to see some goslings soon!
I’m still stalking the same area looking for river otters. I didn’t have any luck today, but I did get to see a super cute muskrat having breakfast.
I did not get to the Wakarusa Wetlands much over the summer, but now that we are heading into fall, I plan to do something about that whenever I can. I took a couple of hours off yesterday to see if what I had been hearing about great numbers of pelicans was true. While a road grater scared many of them away right after I got there, a few remained. It is great to see them in this relatively new space (part of the mitigation for the SLT). While I in no way can speak to the anger and betrayal felt by so many regarding this sacred space, I am choosing to focus on making peace with my relationship with this place that has meant so much to me. I hope it will continue to be a place of relative safety for the beings who live there, and I hope that migrants continue to find it a restful and nourishing spot in the fall and spring. It was wonderful to see thousands of gulls coming through high overhead and the blackbirds were dining on sunflower seeds. A few cormorants were hanging out in a tree, kingfishers patrolled, and grebes dived. Click on pictures to enlarge.
Fall migration is wonderful! The cormorants were coming in all morning and there are thousands of gulls here. I watched hundreds of swallows swooping over the grass and water. I think they will be leaving soon. A very nice morning!
After all this rain of late, the Wakarusa Wetlands are indeed wet, and muddy. Some of my favorite walks have been on these chilly spring mornings. Yesterday, it was so foggy when I got there I could not see very far in front of me, so I moved a bit more slowly to make sure I did not surprise any deer or coyotes. Really, I am sure they know I am coming long before I see them, so it is me that gets the surprise. The fog is mysterious, a little scary, and beautiful. Click on pictures to enlarge.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a huge number of coots moving about at Clinton Lake. I also noticed quite a few gulls flying about. There was a lot of splashing going on, then I realized they were not all just hanging out together. The gulls were actually dive-bombing the coots and taking their fish away. Click on pictures to enlarge.
The pelicans have mostly moved on. The cormorants will follow soon. Ducks are arriving in abundance. Meadowlarks are singing fall songs, and coots are everywhere. It’s beautiful weather to be out watching. Don’t forget to look up. Enjoy! Click on pictures to enlarge.
Along with the pelicans and cormorants, the lake is busy with coots. They are everywhere! Today, we watched hundreds move along the shore. A pelican investigated to see what was so interesting about this particular part of the bank. One brave lone coot decided to see what the crows were up to. They were eating a fish until a turkey vulture came over to claim it. They thought they would be able to trick him/her into leaving, but it didn’t work. Click on pictures to enlarge.