My Life’s Birds: #80-86
August 14, 1993 – McPherson Co, Ks – On our second day in Kansas we traveled further afield, out to a couple nearby areas where birds are likely to be found. Our first stop was the Maxwell Game Preserve, which in addition to being a cool place for prairie birds, is home to a herd of bison. We drove the path around the park and were stunned to see that the herd had decided that the place to hang out was right in the middle of the road. We carefully picked our way through the animals, sliding by a particularly impressive bull. My grandfather’s truck was pretty big, but when you pull up next to an half-ton bull bison, no auto seems large enough.
The birds were pretty good too, Western Kingbirds sat atop every fencepost along with Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. Loggerhead Shrikes were common as well, far more so than back in Missouri, and it wasn’t at all unusual to watch a covey of Northern Bobwhites cross the road in front of the car, fuzzy chicks in tow. Maxwell Game Reserve is one of the few places left in Kansas where you can see the long-grass prairie ecosystem largely as it existed 150 years ago.
The next stop was the old Army Corp of engineers created Marion Reservoir. While the family picnicked at the boat launch I walked around the park finding several good species of birds, including my first Canada Goose (well, maybe good is debatable). August in Kansas is great for shorebird migration, years later my dad and I would return specifically for that reason, and the first of the migrants were beginning to show. I spotted Herring Gulls along with the Ring-billed, Least Sandpipers along the lake shore and fantastic Black Terns in decent numbers twisting and turning over the lake surface.
We never went anywhere specifically for the birds, but the birds seemed to find us.