April 21, 2018 Marion, Kansas

Abandoned Kansas Farmhouse
Abandoned Kansas Farmhouse

Driving the Backroads of Kansas

I have been staying at another Army Corps of Engineers park on the shores of Marion Reservoir the last week or so. Cottonwood Point Campground is yet another great COE campground with 171 campsites spread out over many acres along the shoreline of the reservoir. The sites are mostly level backins with a few pullthroughs, most have gravel pads, picnic table under a shelter, fire pit and charcoal grill. Most have 50 amp electric  with water spigot and some sites have full hookups.

Since there is almost no one here this early in the season, I was able to grab a great pull through site at the very end of one of the four camping loops, guaranteeing me the solitude I love. This site, like most in this campground is waterside with lots of trees around the campsite. Very strong Verizon signal for my internet and this site allowed me easy access to the southern sky for my satellite TV. And for all this I have to pay all of $10.50 ( with my senior pass ) a night, pretty hard to beat that.

Cottonwood Point COE Campsite
Cottonwood Point COE Campsite

My only gripe is that yesterday I had to move from the wonderful site seen in these images to another pull through ( that proved to be every bit as nice ). The reason why ? Well, even though there are only about a dozen campers here amongst the 171 sites, this particular site has been reserved for the weekend. An all too common occurrence with campgrounds that allow reserving specific sites as opposed to reserving a guaranteed open space in the campground ( like the Texas State Park system does )

Cottonwood Point COE Campsite
Cottonwood Point COE Campsite

Notice the rapidly growing Pearl next to Sam. Weighed 2.4 pounds at her first vet visit a month ago, and now 4.4 pounds at her vet visit this week ( for the last of her puppy shots and her first rabies shot ). She remains bold and very independent, to the point of stubborn at times, but recognizes that she does have to pay attention, and respond, to my requests … at least most of the time. Continues to harass poor old Sam, but I do catch Sam actually playing with her quite often now, and even seeking her out to snuggle with once she sees that Pearl has finally shut down and fallen asleep.

Kansas Farmscape
Kansas Farmscape

The weather has been all over the map during my stay, from lows in the low 20’s to highs around 80, with rain, snow and a little bit of sun. The only constant has been the wind, blowing from all directions, but continually blowing, often up to 40 mph.

Kansas Farmscape
Kansas Farmscape

I have been driving all the back roads looking for old barns, but there are very few left standing, most farms now have metal barns, nowhere near as picturesque as the stately old wooden structures.

Abandoned Kansas Barns
Abandoned Kansas Barns

It’s not like the wooden barns didn’t once exist here, it’s just that what I see now are mainly just piles of wooden debris scattered through the woods that border the fields.

Abandoned Kansas Farm
Abandoned Kansas Farm

Once in a while I come across one that is still sort of standing, as in the images above, but these are few and far between.

Remains of a Stone Farmhouse
Remains of a Stone Farmhouse

I suppose that if a stone structure, like the one above located in the middle of a cultivated field, can’t survive here, it probably is little wonder that the old wooden structures have all disappeared.

Controlled Burn
Controlled Burn

Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands

I made a 200 mile round trip to check out the Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands west of here the other day after I went online and managed to reserve a spot on the last day of trips to a blind ( limited to only 6 people ) set up next to a Prairie Chicken lec to observe their mating rituals. The smoky scene above is what I encountered as I approached the wetlands. Unfortunately, there was a controlled burn in progress out on the wetlands and a lot of the area was thus inaccessible on the day I chose to visit.

Cheyenne Bottoms Birds
Cheyenne Bottoms Birds

I did manage to drive a bit of the roads in the wetlands and encountered a few birds here and there.

Avocet
Avocet

Certainly worth visiting again.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I will be returning there with the motorhome next week and hope to get a better chance to explore the area for birds. These wetlands are located along the Central ( migratory ) Flyway and are a main refueling stop for all kinds of birdlife heading north to their breeding grounds.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click ( on the image below) through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

 

March 21, 2014 Goose Island, Texas

Scissortail flycatcher
Scissortail flycatcher

A Mixed Bag of Birds

Another solid overcast cloudy day here on Goose Island. Sunday, I leave here for South Llano River State Park out in the hill country of central Texas so this may be the last post for a week or two as it appears there is no Verizon coverage out there.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Bluebells
Bluebells

I am hoping to find wildflowers in bloom out there as well as spring migrants and there is supposed to be a large turkey population in the park. I have noticed quite a few flowers starting to appear in the pastures here in Lamar.

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail flycatcher

This flycatcher was caught doing his thing along the fence line of the pasture on 12th Street.

Turkey Vulture landing
Turkey Vulture

Not just another pretty face!

Great blue heron
Great blue heron

This great blue heron was just passing through

Roseate spoonbills feeding
Roseate spoonbills

as was this roseate spoonbill. In addition to the whooping cranes, there is a large variety of birds using the pastures and the pond within as a roosting and/or feeding resource.

Long billed curlew
Long billed curlew
Long billed curlew
Long billed curlew

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Long billed curlew feeding in the shallows within the state park.

A gathering of whoopers
A gathering of whoopers

Not a great photo, but it is rather unusual to see this many whoopers peacefully hunting together, usually they tend to stick to pairs or a family unit of three and aggressively chase other whoopers away. Today, these guys were actually kind of boring to observe as there never were any flare-ups amongst them.

Whooping crane in flight
Whooping crane in flight 
Whooping crane
Sharing a pasture

I kind of liked the dark background this grazing cow provided for the whooper.

Whooping crane family flying in
Whooping crane family flying in
Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 17, 2014 Goose Island, Texas

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher

Migrants are arriving!

On the way out of the campground, I caught this tricolor heron fishing in one of the ponds just as the sun was beginning to light things up.

Tricolor Heron at Sunrise
Tricolor Heron at Sunrise

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Tricolor Heron Fishing
Tricolor Heron Fishing

While there were 9 Whoopers scattered around the pastures, none were close enough to get any good shots, so I headed back to the campsite to get some computer work done. At the last second I decided to run up to the fishing pier in the campground just in case there were some small wading birds on the water’s edge.

As I drove between the two sections of waterfront campsites, I spotted some colorful movement in the tall grass and shrubs on the side of the road…a scissortail flycatcher, a new bird for me!

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher Pair
Scissortail Flycatcher Pair

 

 

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher

 

 

 

 

 

On my way back from shopping yesterday, I spotted this odd couple along the road in Fulton. They appeared to be channeling their inner hunting dog, although they seemed a little confused as to which way to point.

Roseate Spoonbill and Great Egret
Roseate Spoonbill and Great Egret