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A Change of Clothes!
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Avocet in the spring

The migration is ramping up. There are new birds showing up every day. It seems to me that it is later than usual, but the new travelers are pretty magnificent!
One of the more striking differences in the fall birds vs. the spring birds happens in the Avocet family. The spring Avocets are bright orange/brown and brilliantly colored. The fall colors are essentially black/white and muted. We had some “Avocet Excitement” last spring when nesting occurred at the Bottoms. The babies got some exposure when rain flooded the nest and mom had to move the youngsters to another spot. I was fortunate to be there the day she made the move, and got some pretty neat pictures. I am trying to figure a way to have a “baby edition” of several species, but am fairly certain it might exceed Mr. Hogg’s good grace on space and ink in the Tribune. We will visit.... Ha!
Another bird that changes its clothes in the fall vs. the spring is the Blue-winged Teal. The male spring bird has a white face patch that is absent in the fall. The other two teal species (Green-winged and Cinnamon) look about the same. There are other birds that change quite a bit also, but you have to be a “real birder” to know the subtle changes in their appearance. I check to Mike Radar and Rob Penner and Charlie and Karl and Curtis. We are sure lucky to have access to their expertise.
Duck season is open and there are lots of dedicated hunters in the Bottoms. It is fun to check out the boats, camouflage, motors (are you familiar with a “Go-Devil?), dogs and make-up. These out-of-state hunters add a lot to our economy. I have friends that will be here in November that have been coming for over 20 years. These Bottoms are a “magnet” for serious hunters. I look forward to their visit and the opportunity to renew the long-standing relationships.
Some of these duck hunters are tough guys. They walk and pull a sled with decoys and stuff way out in the marsh. Most are flat-bellied stout young men and that method of hunting is not for us older guys with new knees and bad golf swings. When I think about tough guys, there is one fellow that is way up on that list. I was sitting on my front porch the other day when the mail carrier stopped by on his route. He hits our house about 2 every afternoon. I nonchalantly asked him how far he walked every day. He said that he has an 8 hour shift and walks 10 miles every day carrying that bag full of mail. My hat is off to those folks that do that in some really bad Kansas weather at times. Take a minute the next time you see your carrier and give him a “atta boy!” The mail is one of the most consistent parts of our lives and they are unsung heroes.
Go to the marsh and see if you find a “Go-Devil” and a very pale Avocet. Keep your eyes open—the Whoopers and geese and Sandhills are on the horizon!