Date: 4/27/18 8:15 am From: Jeff Calhoun <jeffcalhoun11...> Subject: Birding Your Way to Dodge City!
I'm sitting in an extremely uncomfortable chair at parent/teacher conferences, effectively locked up until I get to go birding in Ford and Hodgeman County later this afternoon, one of my last scouting outings before the big weekend! So I thought I'd take a moment to offer a few suggestions for the "birder's direct route" to Dodge City for next weekend's KOS Spring Meeting...
Most everybody will either be driving right by Cheyenne Bottoms or Quivira NWR... WHY WOULD YOU NOT STOP HERE IN SPRING?!?! Do this! Say hi to Curtis. Use the nice bathrooms at the Wetlands Ed Center! Wichita folks... unless you're listing in Pratt-Kiowa-Clark Counties (which is SUPER fun), take Highway 50. Go to Quivira. You'll be happy with the decision.
The 1.5-2 hours west of these mega hotspots is difficult and often forgotten birding. But you definitely can have some fun!
*Pawnee County*: Scott has a nice write-up about this county at http://birdinginkansas.com/Pawnee.htm . I would add that the city park in Garfield has produced some good stops for me over time and it's right off of Hwy 56.
*Edwards County*: The sandhill areas of Edwards County really are quite fun and would be my first recommendation, especially if you have time to explore. The n-s road east of Kinsley that goes by the sandpits is the easiest and least time-consuming option and is the easternmost site to regularly find Cassin's Sparrows I know of. For a bit more adventure, crossings along Rattlesnake Creek near Trousdale and Fellsburg are really really fantastic, but don't get your car stuck!
The Edwards-Pawnee County line road that crosses the Ark River is nifty looking but I've never had much success. The river road south of Kinsley offers some good timber from the road and leads to a house with a nice feeder operation. For most people there is no other access to the Ark River in the county.
There is also nice timber along Coon Creek and tributaries in the northern part of the county. I like this spot (37.996127, -99.350320). The spot at (37.943638, -99.496147) has Eastern Wood-Pewee and Red-eyed Vireo and I have no idea why because it really looks kinda scraggly. And finally, one more spot is practically in Hodgeman County but it makes me happy and I frequently find myself there whilst traveling through: 37.927409, -99.565389.
There is some good town birding for a quick or extended stop. Kinsley has a city park, a cemetery, and sewer lagoons. I've had really fantastic stops and really terrible stops at each of these places but they're easy to try.
Birding the sewer ponds in Offerle could not be easier and is a VERY FAST stop.
*Ford County*: There are going to be field trips in Ford County, but if you find yourself with time you can explore some eastern Ford County on your way in! If I had to choose just ONE "hotspot" I would probably choose Hain State Lake nw of Spearville. Spearville and Bucklin both have sewer ponds too, and I really like the ones at Bucklin even though I rarely get out there.
If you wanted to spend some more time in Ford on your way in, you may find yourself shocked by the amount of good habitat in the eastern part of the county, especially if your only prior experience is along Hwy 50 and the windfarm! Any crossing along Coon Creek starting at Horseshoe Rd and going south and west has some potential, and most have alfalfa fields adjacent where I've even seen Bobolinks and stuff. Every one of those crossings has the ability to make me happy because it is such a nice contrast to the rest of the county.
I could go on and on. I have gone on and on. If you'd like more specifics, feel free to ask more and if I have a sane moment I'll respond! My apologies to leaving out the folks coming from the west. I'll just say that the Ingalls sewer ponds have slowly become one of my favorite stops in Gray County!