Monday, September 26, 2005

From the Field: Birding Shawnee Mission Park, Johnson County, Kansas

Well, this falls under the category of "better late than never" I suppose. I found myself in Kansas City over the Labor Day weekend, and, of course, I had my binoculars along and decided to do a bit of birding.

I was staying in Overland Park, a nice suburb of Kansas City, and since my time was rather limited, I decided to stay local and forget about making a trip to one of the great N.W.R.'s that are found further west in Kansas. As a result, I didn;t really have much of a chance to get any western species, and most of the birds I were likely to see could be seen pretty easily in Illinois. After driving around a bit, I found myself at Shawnee Mission Park in Shawnee, Kansas. The Bluebird Capital of Kansas, or so I'm told. (And I can believe it-one flock of Bluebirds I saw contained at least 40 birds!)

Shawnee Mission Park was a very cool park, with a big lake and a bunch of nice walking trails. The lake itself is about 150 acres, while the entire park is about 1,250 acres, I bet this is a heck of a birding spot year-round. Didn't see any other birders there -- I rarely do on any of my U.S. trips except in true hotspots like the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

I basically stuck to car- and parking lot-birding, but that allowed me to cut through a couple of different parts of the park fairly quickly.

I was hoping to find some migrants to pad my (non-existent) Kansas state list. I pretty much struck out on the migrants, but still had a nice morning of birding. About 40 species total, including the flock of Bluebirds, a couple of Wild Turkeys, and a Red-headed Woodpecker. Nothing spectacular, but hey, the worst morning birding is better than the best morning working.

Shawnee Mission Park

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