By MIKE CORN
The peak of the state's spring birding season is drawing near, but that shouldn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm.
Almost any month of the year, said Rob Penner, an entire bevy of new birds can be found at Cheyenne Bottoms, a state-owned wetlands that has been declared to be of international importance.
Penner is based at Cheyenne Bottoms where he serves as the avian programs manager for the Kansas Nature Conservancy, which owns nearly 8,000 adjoining acres.
Activity at Cheyenne Bottoms has slowed down, as the spring migration peaked, with many of the birds already passing through to reach breeding grounds to the north.
"There's still a lot of birds down there," Penner said of activity at Cheyenne Bottoms.
Typically, he said, the peak period for the spring migration is from mid-April to mid-May.
"Some of the shore birds are well up north," Penner said of the birds that attract bird watchers in the spring. "So things have kind of slowed down."
But he was quick to say a number of birds still remain at Cheyenne Bottoms, either unable to breed or will be nesting at the wetlands.
There are a number of pelicans, he said, that haven't been successful at breeding and likely will remain for the summer.
"It's always active down here, but sometimes it a little less than before," he said of peak periods for birders.
While water birds are down, the arrival of grassland and woodland birds are increasing.
"They're still starting to show up," he said, pointing to the Baltimore oriole as an example.
He also pointed to last week's migration rally sponsored by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, an extension of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
"The education center was packed," Penner said of Saturday's activities.
Likely, he said, bird watching during the week is slow, but picks up considerably on weekends.
"We've got visitors throughout the year," he said.
Rarely are the visitors disappointed.
"You can come out here any time of the year and see good numbers of birds," Penner said.