Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Salt of the Earth

I'm doing a week in Kansas, hoping to see the shorebirds as they migrate through Cheyenne Bottoms in the central part of the state. On the way I drove through one of my usual spots, Squaw Creek NWR in northwest Missouri, and saw a few little shorebirds flitting around there. The active eagle's nest is now in a location nearer the road than a few years ago, so I will stop again on my return and try to get some images in morning light.

Another stop was the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson. I suppose Kansas might suffer from an image problem as a boring place to visit, but two of the "8 Wonders of Kansas" are in Hutchinson. I've been to the Kansas Cosmosphere a couple of times, but not the salt mine until today. It's 650 feet deep, which is the second-deepest mine I've been in. (During my journalism days 25 years ago, I went 8,000 feet down into the Homestake Gold Mine.) I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, but if you are ever stuck in Hutch for a day, visit the Cosmosphere first, the salt mine second, then go have BBQ dinner at Danny Boy's on Main Street.

I didn't get to Cheyenne Bottoms State Wildlife Area or the Nature Conservancy's Preserve today, but I did go through the nearby Quivira NWR. I saw a large owl, probably a Great Horned, in a tree on the opposite side of a pond. It was too far and dim for good images, but I might try again tomorrow. I know it will be roosted in the same area because there was a young owl peeking out of one of the barrel nests constructed in the pond a few yards from shore.

And there were pockets of shorebirds. This is an American Avocet.

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