The conditions are ideal for next weekend’s “Great Migration Rally,” said Pam Martin at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. Organizers have extended the registration deadline to the end of the day on Wednesday, April 27. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Education Center, Barton Community College’s Camp Aldrich, and several other locations.
The Great Migration Rally is a fun, educational tour of Barton County, with programs, activities, prizes and a luncheon buffet included in the $5.50 admission fee. The cost is $3 for ages 5-12, and children under 5 years of age are admitted free. To preregister call the KWEC’s toll-free telephone number, 877-243-9268, or go to the website: wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.
This time of year, millions of migrating birds pass through Cheyenne Bottoms in Barton County. The Rally invites human participants to undertake their own “migration” adventure at the KWEC with crafts, demonstrations and games. Then continue on a drive through Cheyenne Bottoms with two stops.
Rob Penner from The Nature Conservancy will be at the first stop to talk about shorebirds. Last week he estimated there were 150,000 birds of various species at the wetlands area, the best he’s seen in years, Martin said. The shorebird numbers this year at Cheyenne Bottoms are “phenomenal,” she added.
The second stop will include a program on macro invertebrates – all of the beetles, larva, crawfish and other creepy crawlers that provide a feast for the birds.
There will also be a stop at the historic Sts. Peter and Paul Church, which will be open for the occasion. Restoration of the church steeple that was destroyed by a tornado in 2007 was completed in 2015.
At each stop, participants will collect bird migration cards to earn points.
Then the final stop is at the Camp Aldrich Conference Center Dining Hall, which recently opened; the original dining hall was destroyed by a fire in 2014. The lunch is a roast ham dinner with all of the trimmings and dessert, Martin said.
Camp Aldrich is also where the featured guest speaker, falconer Nate Mathews, will give a presentation with his Golden Eagle, and where people will turn in their points and prizes will be awarded.
A number of sponsors have donated outdoor-themed prizes for youths and adults this year. The grand prize is a WASPcam Action-Sport Camera.
The Great Migration Rally is underwritten by the City of Great Bend, Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, Barton Community College, Camp Aldrich, Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms and Great Bend Regional Hospital.