Date: 3/12/17 8:29 am From: Pete Janzen <pete.janzen...> Subject: NC KS Trip summary
I spent three days March 8-10 with Kevin Groeneweg, Tom Ewert and Bill Langley doing some county-list birding in north-central Kansas. We started with the Golden-crowned Sparrow stakeout near Blackwolf (mission accomplished), and spent the remainder of March 8 in Russell and Rooks Counties. Most of March 9 we spent in Phillips and Norton Counties, with the last two hours of daylight spent in Graham Co. On March 10 we birded in Trego and Rush Counties, with a spin around the wildlife loop at Quivira on the way home.
Waterfowl numbers were tremendous at several locations, but conversely some major reservoirs were also virtually bird free. Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup Pintail, Gadwall, Am. Wigeon, N. Shoveler and Green-winged Teal numbers were impressive, especially at Sebelius. The total number of waterfowl at Sebelius Reservoir (Norton Co) on the evening of the 9th was well into five figures. Another large concentration of waterfowl dominated by Snow, Ross's and White-fronted Geese was at the western end of Webster Wildlife Area (Rooks Co.) on the evening of the 8th. The only lake with significant numbers of Common Goldeneye was Wilson (Russell Co.) with 125 present. With this flock were three Long-tailed Ducks including an adult male which I have only seen one other time in Kansas.
Wintering species such as Common Merganser, gulls, Rough-legged Hawk and N. Shrike were almost or completely absent. We encountered migrating flocks of Mountain Bluebirds and Sandhill Cranes in several counties. We saw a number of Red-tailed Hawks and GH Owls on nests in most or all counties we visited. Red-breasted Nuthatches are still around, as we found them at a number of locations. Antelope Lake in Graham Co. had a single Yellow-headed Blackbird and a small flock of Rusty Blackbirds on Mar 9. White-winged Dove was present in the town of Kirwin (Phillips Co.) and in the Norton Cemetery (Norton Co.) on May 9. A major surprise was a Sage Thrasher observed in the big grove of pines on the south edge of the town of Kirwin (Phillips Co.) on May 9. Bill Langley and I got great looks at it. Despite some searching we were unable to relocate this bird for the other two members of the party. There was a single Townsend's Solitaire at Sylvan Grove Campground at Wilson Reservoir (Russell Co.) on May 8. There were several species of shorebirds at Warren Stone Lake in Rush Co on March 10. Most notable was an apparent Short-billed Dowitcher, a new county record for Rush Co. At Quivira we were not able to find any Cinnamon Teal but did see 14 Tundra Swans.
The huge fires of this past week burned a lot of the land around WIlson Reservoir. The roads were closed west of Hell Creek Rec. Area and from the road barricade blackened ground was all you could see to the west. The big fires completely burned through Rooks State Fishing Lake. The pavilions and parking area were unburned but everything else was torched. Sebelius Lake in Norton County is about as low as it was in 2009 when the KOS meeting had the absolute shorebird bonanza. At least at this time it appears that shorebirding conditions at that lake will again be superb for the spring migration.