Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Kansas

Birdie and I got up before the crack of dawn on our last full day traveling together.
 We spent the day birding at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas.
 The refuge is a place of wildflowers and wetlands along the route of many migratory birds.
The first group of birds we saw was this large flock of white pelicans resting on a sandbar.
 A little later we saw them again when they all took flight and moved on.
We saw plovers,
And lots of other shorebirds that were hard to sort out.
 There were American Goldfinches,
And Pine Siskins
 And a female Ring-necked Pheasant crossed our path.
 Lots of ducks, but the Wilson's Phalarope on the right were new to me.
Unfortunately much of the wetlands is dry this year due to severe drought. It greatly reduces the habitat and food sources for migratory birds. We saw no herons or egrets here.
 But we saw several American Kestrels. This guy just ate a grasshopper.
 Now he's looking at you,
And he can look at you with the eyes in back of his head too, haha.
 Dowitchers and duck,
 Red-tailed hawk with a snake.
 Another new one to me, the White-faced Ibis.
 He's not wearing his white face right now...wrong time of year.
 More wading birds,
 And more ducks.
The wildflowers were striking. This is a milkweed pod.
 Prairie grasses
 Wild Kansas sunflowers
 These with the yellow centers are called Compass Plant.
 I forget what these tiny asters are called. Birdie has the book, ask her.
Pink flowers with long seed pods....forgot the name. 
 Lots of them, and they attracted all kinds of butterflies.
This one flew and acted like a hummingbird. Had to look him up. 
It's a White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth!
Mourning Cloak 
More wildflowers
 There was quite a discussion about these....ask Birdie what we finally decided.
And then there were deer.
After we left the refuge, while passing a farmer's field, Birdie spotted this hawk on the ground.
 Then we noticed the whole field was full of them.
 On the ground,
 And in the air.
It's a migrating flock of Swainson's Hawks, stopped to rest in the field overnight.
 We went back to watch them take flight in the morning. They were all facing the sun, waiting for it to warm the air so they could catch the thermals.
And we had liftoff!
And now, our routes have split as Birdie follows the hawks south, and I go east. It's been a great summer. What great traveling companions I have had along the way.
I wonder who will get to Oklahoma first, Birdie or the hawks?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Post Rock and Barbed Wire Museum

Well, it caught our attention, so we stopped.
First things first. If you're going to put up a barbed wire fence you have to have fence posts. This is Kansas. There aren't many trees, but they did have plenty of rock. Limestone.
Now I bet you know what the Post Rock Museum will be about. We'll visit there first. Note the building is made of limestone blocks.
Inside is a display showing the limestone formations similar to those we've been passing on the highway. This display showed how they cut and removed the limestone to make the posts.
Display cases show other uses for the limestone. 
And fossils formed in the rock dating back to when this land was a sea. 
Outside was a fence using post rock.
There were other historical buildings to tour too. Our informative guide wanted to show us the old bank next.
1916 bank
What it looked like in its day. Looks like they were having a run on the bank that day. 
Inside...original flooring and woodwork. Note the spittoon on the floor. Modern banks no longer provide that courtesy.
Behind the counter and the vault. 
Way before computers. 
Does anybody remember counter checks (or was that register checks?)...forgot what he called them, and I guess I was too young. 
Enough about the bank. I know what you're really interested in is the barbed wire....right?
Ok, let's go... 
The reason they needed barbed wire fences was because early settlers,
and homesteaders were fed up with cattle drivers letting free range cattle tear up their farmland. They needed a fence not to keep the cattle inside, but to keep them out and off their crops.
So necessity being the mother of invention...Notice he got the credit for his wife's idea.
Our guide demonstrates how the coffee grinder was used to twist the wire and secure the barbs.
After a patent war which Glidden won, there were many more variations patented.
Just a few of Glidden's patents. 
But there are more if you're interested....his and other's.
And if you have a burning interest and a lot of time, there are several walls of variations, each meticulously labeled and dated. 
But fencing isn't just about wire and posts....there are tools. Post-hole diggers,
Fencing pliers artfully arranged,
With descriptions and other important information. 
Wire stretchers, 
And other necessary tools. 
There was a life-size diorama of a cowboy building a fence.
Leather gloves are very important. 
Because if you handle barbed wire you are sure to get cut. Which makes Barbed wire liniments a necessity.
And there was a display of those too. 

I thought it was interesting that this label says "Do not wash sore." 
I haven't shown you half of what's in this museum, but you get the idea. And if you haven't had enough barbed wire, there is barbed wire art available in the gift shop.