Bird watching has never much appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love birds as much as the next outdoorsman, especially hawks and owls. I would be content to spend the rest of my life in the woods at dusk listening to the soft, soothing hoots of great horned owls and the soulful, staccato cries of barred owls pierce the darkness. I could watch forever the effortless soaring of a hawk high overhead as it searches the ground for a snack with eyes like spotting scopes. I can spend hours fantasizing that I’m riding along on the immense outstretched wings of a vulture as it glides high on the Kansas winds. But bird watching per say doesn’t sound like my bag.
For those of you who know me, picture this; me clad in some natty outfit complete with stylish headgear, a bird book and note pad under my arm, a pair of high-dollar binoculars around my neck and a couple-thousand dollar camera on a tripod in front of me. First of all, I’d have one of my “bull-in-a-china-closet” moments and knock over the tripod, dumping the couple-thousand dollar camera into the dirt, then the stylish headgear would blow away as I bent over to rescue the camera, banging the high-dollar binoculars into the ground in the process, and then……well you get the picture. Bird watching for me would better consist of crawling into a tumble-down old barn to observe a mother turkey vulture on her nest (which both Joyce and I have done.)
All joking aside, now that I have managed to completely tick-off every legitimate bird watcher in the state, real authentic bird watchers have my utmost respect. I know they dress nothing like I described, and most can probably tell a warbler from a waxwing with a mere glance. Well Kansas bird watchers, listen up! The 2017 Wings and Wetlands Birding Festival will be April 28 -29 at Great Bend, KS, headquartered at the Best Western Angus Inn Courtyard there in Great Bend. Just outside Great Bend are two of the best birding spots in the Central Flyway; Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira are both wetlands of international importance that provide a stopover resting spot for thousands of birds on their north and south migration routes. The festival dates coincide with the peak of the annual shorebird migration, and approximately 180 species of birds have been documented during most previous festivals.
Curtis Wolf, site manager of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) says “The main focus of the festival is getting participants out on field trips with experienced guides to find as many bird species as we can. We are excited to be able to bring a diverse crowd of birders into the area to experience our wetlands and our communities.” Besides the wetlands birding trips, participants in this year’s 2 day festival can attend a shorebird identification workshop, a presentation by renowned birder and photographer Bob Gress, attend night birding and prairie chicken lek tours, and see other area attractions along the Wetlands and the Wildlife National Scenic Byway. If you’d like more information on this event contact the KWEC at 1 -877-243-9268.
Maybe I should give proper bird watching a chance; I might find I was good at it and even liked it. I’m afraid though that the rest of the group might take exception to my dressing in full camo with my 46 dollar Fuji camera from Walmart mounted on a garage sale tripod, all the while carrying my 12 gauge strapped on my back in case the errant snow goose flew overhead and gave me a chance to shoot it down to take home for the freezer; especially when I began carelessly knocking over everyone else’s tripods and cameras. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]