I was definitely on the lookout for Ferruginous Hawks during our visit to western Kansas last year and we were fortunate to have one fly directly over us as we visited a badlands monument. What I didn’t expect is to be able to see an active nest. This was at a private ranch where we had the opportunity to see and photograph Lesser Prairie Chicken leks. The rancher was understandably weary of getting too close or staying too long, so we took our shots from a good distance from the vehicle windows.
A New Great-horned Owl Nest!
I finally had the opportunity to visit my buddy Jim’s property to check out the nest site of a Great-horned Owl nest. This pair has used this snag for about 5 years to raise their brood and I am disappointed in myself for not visiting sooner. I had no idea how perfect the views into this nest were. You couldn’t ask for a better setup. Unfortunately, I was a bit late this season as well. The chicks fledged within days of my first and only visit. Hopefully next year!
Here are a few from my visit. These were taken in early afternoon so the light was a bit harsh.
2022 Kansas Trip – Semipalmated Sandpiper
I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since this trip and I still have quite a few photos to share. Not much time or gumption to post much lately. Here are some photos of one of the more abundant shorebirds we had on this particular visit – the Semipalmated Sandpiper. It was fun and interesting to see so many individuals up close. You can really see variations in individual plumages at this time of year, as I hope this collection shows
2022 Kansas Trip – American Coot
Long-eared Owls Finally!
The Long-eared Owl has been on my top most wanted list for adding to my photographed species list for nearly 15 years. During this past New Years Eve, I finally found that opportunity.
Long-eared Owls are a bit different in that they hold and keep winter roosting sites, sometimes using the same trees or a single tree for these winter roosts year after year. This was the case here, where we found five birds roosting in a couple of exotic pine trees. Unfortunately, all but the one pictured here were too far in the mix of branches to be photographed. I am sure happy to have this one.
I had heard that this species is particularly weary, flushing with the least provocation. I did not find this to be the case at all with this group. Yes, this was a hard to find location and they do not likely see many visitors. When we stepped from the car they did become aware, moving their heads back and forth to get better looks at us from between branches. But, with keeping low voices, slow movements and respectful distances, they got used to our presence fairly quickly. I was even amused that they began ignoring us, turning their backs to us, going back to sleep and having what seemed to me normal behaviors and interactions. We stayed until dusk at which point they began stirring, moving from perch to perch and interacting with one another. This was too dark for still photographs but I did collect a little bit of video that I hope to process and share someday.
I know this is a sought after species in our region. This roost is on private property in which we were invited. I will not be able to share the location information for this site. Thanks for understanding.
Sedge Wren – August 2022
A cooperative Sedge Wren from August of last year.
Everyone’s Favorite Screech
We don’t seem tired of shooting the Eastern Screech Owl…
2022 Kansas Trip – Long-billed Dowitcher
We didn’t have a great deal of diversity in the shorebirds during this early season trip to the “central coast,” but, we had great numbers in the early migrating species like the Long-billed Dowitcher. There may have been some Short-billed Dowitchers mixed in here but none that we could confirm identity. The LBDO uses the central flyway predominantly while the SBDO primarily moves along the coasts during spring migration.
Some Winter Songbirds (Mostly Sparrows)
Here are a few songbirds I’ve photographed over the past couple of winter seasons.
2022 Kansas Trip – American Bittern
Found near the road at Quivira NWR, this American Bittern cooperated a bit until it slinked back into the grasses.