Date: 9/24/17 5:37 pm From: Kevin Groeneweg <kgroeneweg...> Subject: Weekend in NW KS (long)
I joined Jeff Calhoun on a county listing spin in several NW KS counties. The weather was generally working against us, with strong winds on Friday and rain Sunday morning, but we managed to tally county birds in nearly all counties. On the way we stopped at Lake McKinney. Not many birds on the lake, but 5 Western Grebes were hanging on, and we saw both Peregrine and Prairie Falcons. We stopped in Leoti (Wichita county) but didn't net much, although there were 3 American Avocets on the sewer ponds. In Tribune town birding was the key, as we had no birds at the "concrete jungle" and little at the sewer ponds. Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins were not hard to find, and we would find them in many places on the trip. We ventured back into the NW part of Wichita county where we had 4 White-faced Ibis at a feedlot pond. We moved on north on a Greeley/Wichita county line road (barely a road) that produced Savannah, Vesper and a Brewer's Sparrow "two-fer". The U road playa in Wallace county was dry, but we had a Cassin's Kingbird on the way, a new county record.
With the Flatlander Festival going on in Sharon Springs there were no motel rooms to be had, so we spent the night in Colby. Birding the town the next morning produced various birds, with more RB nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Wilson's and Orange-crowned Warblers, which set the tone for the warblers we would find all weekend. We cruised Thomas and Sherman counties with many of the same birds. Next up was Rawlins county, one of my favorite. If you've never driven the road following Beaver Creek through the county you need to add it to your to-do list. Highlights include a Lazuli Bunting and a Black-headed Grosbeak. We stopped in at Atwood Lake to find that the "Smokin' on the Beaver" BBQ fest was going on. What a huge event! Despite all the people, we did have a Forster's Tern on the lake, a new county record. We moved into Sheridan county, with a Great Egret and 7 Snowy Egrets on the state fishing lake. Continuing east into Graham county, we had 4 Great Egrets fly over at Antelope Lake, a new county record. We ended the day with an Eastern Screech-Owl at the Sheridan Wildlife Area.
We rolled the dice on a failing motel in Quinter (turned out okay) and awoke to rain this morning. We rolled through Logan, taking time to bird in Oakley since the rain let up a bit. A Belted Kingfisher on a power line in town was really out of place. With heavy rain we decided to try to get on the back side of the storms and stopped in at Scott SP, and then on to Valley View Cemetery in Garden City, but not finding many birds of note.
After leaving Jeff's place in Dodge City I made a few stops in Edwards and Pawnee counties. The only thing of note in Edwards was a Cattle Egret on the Offerle sewer ponds. I detoured up to the Ward Feeders pond (former Black-bellied Whistling-Duck spot) in hopes of adding shorebirds to my list and was not disappointed. The large number of shorebirds included a Wilson's and Red-necked Phalarope (the Red-necked is a new record for Pawnee county) and a couple of Semipalmated Plovers. It hadn't rained in that area, so I made my way to Zook playa, where there were still a few shorebirds, including a Black-bellied Plover.