As you all well know, the bottoms are dry. That’s not to say that the marsh is empty. The eagles and harriers and hawks and Kestrels are certainly out there. I have made three trips trying to find short-eared owls, but no luck so far. They will show up. There are lots of geese and cranes (I haven’t seen one Whooping Crane this year). The raptors are having a smorgasbord with the waterfowl and if you watch carefully you will get to watch the raptor take the duck or goose out of the sky. It is a compelling sight.
The coyotes and raccoons and possums are also well-fed. A lot of folks are recommending a bounty on raccoons to protect upland birds. That gets tedious — I’m not sure the state could afford that project, and I have no way to measure the efficiency. I do know that with all the corn piles in this state for deer hunting, the predators are certainly well-fed right now. Nothing is easy. There have been a bunch of big deer killed this year. Lots of ladies and kids have joined the hunt—and have had a lot of success. That is a terrific note!
I also have not been able to find a Snowy Owl. I thought one would probably show up when we had that hard cold snap, but it didn’t happen. Nobody has called to report one either. It is a most unusual year.
Dan Soeken and Mike Blair have a wonderful gig going on. Dan Lives out toward Quivira and the geese and cranes are using the fields by his home for a feeding station. They have taken some beautiful amazing videos of those birds. When you have wind over 20 miles per hour, the birds “spill out of the sky” and perform some of the most acrobatic moves you will ever see. There are thousands of birds in that area — well worth the drive to get a peek — and to listen. The sound of thousands of geese and cranes is in a class by itself.
I’ve been sitting in a deer blind for several days this week with no success. Except — success comes in lots of different forms. I have had squirrels, quail, turkeys, and all kinds of songbirds in front of me. The beautiful cardinals, jays, juncos, sparrows, woodpeckers, robins, bluebirds, nuthatches, and finches — make the day so valuable. I did have one doe that walked up to the front of my blind from my blindside while I was gazing out at the birds through my binoculars. When we discovered each other, she almost ran through the front of my blind, and I was headed out the back. Just good fun!
What do we know? Not a lot. What do we think — it doesn’t matter. The peace and joy of Kansas Outdoors are just over the top. I hope you and your children always have these opportunities to live your dreams.
Happy New Year to the Best folks I know!
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.