Henry Armknecht, Kevin Groeneweg, and I visited various counties in southwest Kansas this holiday weekend and had a very well executed 'winging-it' adventure that I'll remember for a long time. Few birds are chaseable but the overall report is interesting:
On Saturday we had our first Red-breasted Nuthatch of the trip in Sublette (Haskell Co), and at least 22 Burrowing Owls at a Prairie Dog town hardly 5 acres in size. In n central Stevens County we documented a Northern Goshawk soaring over the countryside, a state bird for two of us. The birding at Frazier Park in Ulysses was exceptional both Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Birds seen there included Grant Co's first Chesnut-sided Warbler as one of six Warbler species and the only Pine Siskin of the trip. A dozen late Purple Martins at the Ulysses WTP and a Merlin snatching a Barn Swallow out of the Grant Co sky were surprising, we really did well there. Sunday, a lingering Long-billed Curlew at a pond was neat in sw Hamilton Co, but I was more selfishly ecstatic to finally see a Curve-billed Thrasher in that county up in Coolidge. That evening was spent in Kearny County where an adult Bald Eagle surprised us at the Lakin diversion dam. We especially enjoyed Lake McKinney, where we counted 28 Western Grebes and saw a Western Tanager. This Monday morning we hiked a bit at Ford Co SFL and saw many of the same migrants we've enjoyed over the weekend and also had a single flyover Red Crossbill.
Many other marginaly interesting birds were noted; a bread crumb trail is on eBird. The trip list will be impressive and county list additions numerous for each of us after all the accounting is complete. Painted Lady butterflies were everywhere, Sunflowers for days. Mule Deer bucks are always neat as are the more westerly Pronghorns and the elusive Bobcat spotted on this trip. Good friends and a great time!