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Marsh Musings
hoi kl marsh musings
Cattle egrets have flocked to the area this fall. While they are not native to the area, they are an entertaining bird to watch at Cheyenne Bottoms. - photo by Dr. Dan Witt

Big changes are occurring in the marsh. I have been traveling a bit – went to Louisiana for a alligator and to Wyoming for a cow elk. Hope to draw a bull tag next year. It gets a little more difficult each year – this is my fourth year to draw only the cow tag. Elk is certainly a elegant addition to the table and I retrieved 286 pounds of meat. Bow hunting is a lot of fun.
When I got back, there were large numbers of ducks and shore birds in the marsh. The Nature Conservancy was filled with ducks, geese and shore birds, and the symphony was beautiful to hear. I listened for several days from our little duck club while chasing teal – my favorite duck. The cattle egrets were numerous and are always entertaining since they follow the cattle and feed on the insects stirred up by the herd. They sit on the animals, and stay close to their feet. They are actually native to Africa, and migrated from South America in the early 1800s. They first were seen in Kansas in the 1960s.
When the weather changed and we had the cold snap – the egrets hit the road and are probably in Texas by now. As in previous years, the early large group of ducks went with them. We have a few big ducks in the marsh and there are still teal present – but we had a large migration when the weather changed. Duck season is in full swing now, and I’m sure the mallards and pintails and canvasbacks are waiting for a real cold day to move on down. Right now, it is pretty quiet in the marsh. I toured pool 2 yesterday with Brian Hanzlick and it was beautiful. The smell of fall and the subdued colors are like comfort food – we know the main course is big ducks, geese, pheasant, turkey, deer and fall fishing for walleye, white bass and crappie are right on us. This is a beautiful time of the year – go look and smell and enjoy the calm peacefulness of the early fall. It is all too short.

Doc Witt is a nature enthusiast and retired physician.