The Birds of Quivira (12 photos)

I introduced Quiriva National Wildlife Refuge in my previous post. By November the primary migration along the Central Flyway is declining. Yet we still saw thousands upon thousands of ducks, geese and Sandhill Cranes during a day visit.

Quivira Water FinalQuivira Water 5I didn’t bring a telephoto lens on the trip, so I rented an older Nikon 50-400. Between a misfitted lens and generally overcast skies, the quality of photos is lacking. So be it. This was my first visit to Quivira.

A couple of days before our visit, migrating Whooping Cranes returned to Quivira. While we did not see the cranes, we found plenty of fellow birders looking for this endangered species.

There were plenty of waterfowl and shore birds, even if most were out of camera range.

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American Avocet
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Shoveler
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Least Sandpiper
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Lesser Yellowlegs
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American Coot
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American Pipit

Even though I live east of the Mississippi River, I consider Kansas my home state. So I have an emotional connection to the birds of the prairie. The Western Meadowlark is the Kansas state bird. The call of the Northern Bobwhite is iconic. I can only imagine the photo opportunities in the spring at Quivira for birds of the prairie.

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Western Meadowlark
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Northern Bobwhite
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Yellow-rumped Warbler

Birds identified at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge November 5, 2016.

American Avocet, American Coot, American Robin, Bald Eagle, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Canada Goose, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, Field Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Mallard, Marsh Wren, Northern Bobwhite, Northern Flicker, Northern Shoveler, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Redhead, Ring-billed Gull, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ruddy Duck, Sandhill Crane, Savannah Sparrow, Snow Goose, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

 

 

Exploring Quivira (11 Photos)

In the heart of Kansas, more than 600 miles from Gulf of Mexico, there are sand dunes and salt marshes.

Sand dunes and salt marshes.

These unique geologic formations are at the convergence of the eastern tallgrass and western short-grass prairies. Today there are few human inhabitants in the area, just a handful of scattered farms. Since the salt marshes are along the Central Flyway, what you do find are birds. Depending on the time of year, tens of thousands of birds.

In 1955 more than 22,000 acres became Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The region was already known as “Quivira”at the arrival of Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541, although the word’s meaning is lost to time.

The salt marshes are formed as water percolates up through subterranean salt deposits. Quivira has two primary marshes with other smaller ponds.

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Canada Geese and assorted ducks at Big Salt Marsh
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Big Salt Marsh
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Arm of the Big Salt Marsh

Wind blown grasses and reeds created interesting patterns. To no avail, I spent a good hour searching online for sources to identify endemic Kansas salt marsh plants.

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Narrow-leaf Cattail

The fauna between the ponds and marshes had its own pleasant yet muted colors and tones.

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I’ll post the initial photographs of birds at Quivira later this week.

 

Abandoned Discovery (Nine Photos)

During a recent weekend hike I took an unfamiliar trail at John Bryan State Park in western OH. I ran across the below abandoned site, although at first glance it felt more like a ruin.  I’m certain I could learn about this site through research, but right now prefer the sense of mystery. Photos taken with a iPhone 6.

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False Spring (Three Photos)

The unseasonably warm February from the Midwest through the Great Plains created some  movement among birds. One Saturday afternoon we had these backyard visitors…eastern-bluebirdSome Eastern Bluebirds winter in Ohio, but not near our place. This day the bluebirds appeared, searching high and low for insects.

american-robinA pair of American Robins left the shelter of the woods to check for worms and larvae.

red-winged-blakbirdIn the past decade, this is the earliest we have seen a Red-winged Blackbird in our yard.