Date: 5/15/18 6:43 pm From: Nickel, James B <James.Nickel...> Subject: Morton County
It's a pleasure to come back to Kansas. The Panhandle is dry and not much green. The big playa lakes of last year are gone. The Titmice are all Black-crested. But, It's green in Kansas!
I stopped, of course, in Morton County on the way there and back. The cemetery/lagoons/shelterbelt had some good birds. I saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the little dried up pond. Not much to speak of on the lagoons. There were loads of yellow warblers at the shelterbelt. But, the best warbler was a MacGillivray's hanging low in some brush in the shelterbelt. There are about 25-30 nesting Black-crowned Night Herons in the shelterbelt now. I walked over to the cemetery. Not much there, but I talked to a woman that said her friend was a birder that knows some of the Wichita birders. She said that they had seen a Vermillion Flycatcher. If it was not the one I saw, that would be 2 for this spring.
I went to middle springs. That area is great. It must have been a god send for the tired people who stopped there on the Santa Fe trail many years ago. It really is a bird oasis. I saw a Lazuli bunting there. There were many yellow warblers, another Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Nashville. But, the best bird for me was a Townsend's Warbler.
Then I headed to the North Fork country. When I turned off the paved road I saw a Raven and then a Northern Harrier. There are lots of Lark Buntings in the area. There are also many Cassin's sparrows. The Buntings were great to see again as I have not seen them for years. The old home site had two recently dead Magpies in the stock tank. But there were several live nesting pairs in the area. There were a few Empids, although none were calling. One looked especially dark. I saw a pair of Blue Grosbeaks. The best bird for me was probably a Yellow-breasted Chat.
My last stop was the cemetery at Richfield. There was a Say's Phoebe there. There was also a Black-headed Grosbeak, making three species of Grosbeaks! I flushed a Nighthawk that I tried without success to make into a lesser. The Lesser Nighthawks, at least one, are close to Kansas now. David Wiggins sent me a photo of one that he saw in the panhandle of Oklahoma. I think he said near Kenton.
On a serious note I got a tick bite last time I was home. After the bite I got flu like symptoms for a day or so. Then the bite area turned into a larger red area with telltale bullseye mark. I am talking antibiotics now, as I think I may have had the first signs of Lyme's. As birders we are almost sure to get bitten. So if you think you might have the bug, do not wait as early treatment is more successful then waiting. Waiting could create lifelong problems. Best Wishes Jim Nickel