Kansas Trip Journal 4

For a more than a week we are staying at the home of Jerry and Vi Dalke, who live south of Hillsboro. Vi is a cousin of JoLene’s on the Jantz side of the family.

The temperature has been high – some days 101 degrees – but sometimes cloud cover or a breeze has moderated the heat, and the evenings have been surprisingly comfortable.

I am thoroughly enjoying the birds of KS.

Here is the scissor-tailed flycatcher, a striking sight.

Scissor-tail01

Not my photo. It came from the internet.

I am also seeing purple martins, dickcissels, eastern and western meadowlarks, eastern and western kingbirds, yellow-billed cuckoos and one red-headed woodpecker.

I have added two new species to my life list. One is the upland sandpiper, which, as the name implies, hangs out in prairie fields, not at water. I saw two such sandpipers, each in its typical stance, on a wood fence post beside the highway.

The other new bird is the prairie chicken. I saw one female, lying dead on the blacktop road. I took a photo but will spare you the sight. I hope a dead bird qualifies as a “life bird” for a birder!

When I lived in KS 40 years ago, northern harriers (a graceful raptor with long wings and tail) were common, cruising over the fields in search of prey. All week I have been looking for one, so far without success.

One evening we drove to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, north of Canton, where we saw a herd of 85 bison.

Another day I went to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, north of Strong City. 10,000 acres of original prairie. The view is spectacular. In July the tall grass isn’t very high. I wish I could come back in the fall when the grasses reach 5 to 7 feet tall.

There is so much to see in KS.

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