Date: 11/5/17 9:00 pm
From: William H Kaempfer <William.Kaempfer...>
Subject: [cobirds] CO 96 in Eastern Kiowa
Who would go out to bird eastern Kiowa County? Well actually I didn't go out but rather came back through eastern Kiowa County following KS/CO 96 all the way from its origin (I think) in Great Bend to Eads.

The Great Bend trip was terrific with 27 Whooping Cranes at Quivira two days in a row, but that's another story. Here's what was up in Kiowa.

Towner in the first town in Colorado coming from the east, or maybe town wanna-be. I came up with 11 species in a hot-spot with only 15 previously. Rough-legged Hawk, Ring-necked Pheasant and White-crowned Sparrow were new, and Common Grackle got an early November eBird flag.

Eight miles or so further west is a hotspot for which I am the only reporter, Stuart Pond area. The pond itself, which has had water in it (no mean feat out here) is not easy to view as it lies north of some unused RR tracks in the middle of an agricultural field sporting a good crop of sunflowers today. I went for broke today and parked on the CO 96 shoulder in order to walk across the tracks to get a better look. The pond was full of waterfowl. My conservative tally was over 250 individuals with more than half being white geese. Most were Snow, but there were a score of tiny, flagged Ross's mixed in. Hooded Merganser also was flagged.

The second part of this hotspot is the school grounds at Plainview School at the intersection of 96 and CR. Lots of trees here for the middle of plains-mostly in a long shelter belt of junipers and Russian olives along 96, but with some larger trees and a few Ponderosa Pines near the house on the south side. Since it is an operating school, I wouldn't recommend a visit during school hours, but today being a Sunday, I decided to go all out. I walked the shelter belt and the circled the school, discovering that the area was full of bird life. Best was a handful of Harris's Sparrows, I counted 6 which got an eBird flag as high, but I suspect that number was even higher. White-crowned Sparrows, juncos, robins and American Goldfinch were all present, too. With all that birdlife, of course there was a prairie Merlin buzzing the crowd, too. A great time at Stuart Pond where my 27 species pushed the hotspot total over 30.

My last stop before realizing that I better head for home, was Sheridan Lake. Located at the intersection of CO 96 and US 385, Sheridan Lake gets a fair amount of birder traffic and has a hotspot list edging up toward triple digits and that coveted move from blue to yellow! There is water here, that's the good news, but it is probably pretty alkaline at this stage, so not much stays and feeds. On the water were a handful of dabblers and a calling Greater Yellowlegs. But while I was there I was in this vortex of Lapland Longspurs that kept zipping into the little freshwater pond that is up the hill from the main lake. Just as I was closing my list, a glock of Canada Geese flew overhead-they were a new bird for the spot, believe it or not.

One Kansas note of interest was a flock of 20 some Red Crossbills in Leoti-two counties east of CO on 96. Crossbills also seem to be all over in Nebraska this fall, so be alert for them anywhere on the plains where there are pines and/or water.

Bill Kaempfer

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