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Cheyenne Bottoms teeming with spring life
Marsh Musings
Northern Shoveler

This virus has wreaked a lot of havoc — emotionally, financially and politically. We tend to look at it as if we are invincible or assume that it escalated by the media or some foreign entity. We learn lots about ourselves — I was pretty macho until it occurred to me that Sandra is immuno-compromised — now my hands are tender from proper washing. Close to home is a whole other deal. Protect your family and friends — they are all we have. That is the reality of this thing. They are all we have.

I spend time at the Bottoms mostly by myself unless someone wants to join me. I like company. Not having any time restraints is a gift. I can sit for as long as I chose to watch the scenes unfold. I create projects for myself. Right now I’m trying to get a picture of a Northern Shoveler with food in its mouth. There are lots of them out there, and most have their head in the water chasing bugs I think, but I don’t see them swallow anything. The nice thing is that other things are happening at the same time. Pelicans are here in big numbers. They are such elegant birds when gliding low over the water or circling high in the sky. They aren’t so pristine if you walk through the area where they spend any amount of time. They are not fastidious. I enjoy photographing those birds — they are big and focused on eating every fish in the Bottoms. You should go out and watch these birds — they are beautiful and plentiful.  

The virus canceled our Ducks Unlimited banquet. It will occur at a later date. Kim and Gene and the other volunteers have worked so hard. Their enthusiasm inspires all of us. So many things have been canceled. I felt pain for the Claflin girls. Good thing they are tough kids and have the coaches to lead them forward. It too shall pass. All records are meant to be broken.

I’m trying to elevate my photography skills. These new cameras have so many features and options. Actually reading the manual is invigorating. My friend Randy Akings and I have been to some courses and done lots of tutorials. It is a gift to have someone to join forces with — his happy intellectual enthusiasm has made us better. We are studying focus and camera settings to get sharper images. Lots of stuff to learn.  

The migration is ramping up. I saw a group of Yellowlegs in some field water just east of Hoisington yesterday. There are also some flying around in the Bottoms. Killdeer sort of mark the spring and they are here. The ducks are here in good numbers and types. Cinnamon Teal are here — along with their cousins the Blue winged and Green Winged. Those cute little Green Winged birds walk out of the water across the mud to the brush on the south side of the main road east of headquarters. The others are positive that I’m going to murder them and explode off the water. They are calming down now that hunting season is over. I have always thought it would be nice to be able to shoot one duck in the spring — they are all dressed up and are so elegant — if you wanted a sprig or Wood Duck or Gadwall to put on the wall now would be the time. Pictures work for me.  

Stay hunkered down until this thing runs its course. I don’t have any experience or info that is any different than yours. Americans will eventually pull together — just always remember that they are all we have.  

Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.