Flying signs of fall

Fall’s officially here in my book. I came to that conclusion after a drive to check a place I bowhunt in Butler County.

After being gone a week it was nice to see how much the leaves had turned and watch some drift in the breeze. Several ponds had flocks of ducks.

But the obvious increase in red-tailed hawks was most-appreciated.

Hawks of many species that spend the spring and summer to our north know what I’ve known for years – Kansas has fine hunting in the fall and winter. I’ve never seen the figures but I’m confident the number of flying predators is easily two to three times higher than in the summer.

They come and stay to hunt assorted rodents amid our lush grasslands and crop fields. On warm days they’ll gladly take lethargic snakes that are out looking for rodents.

Driving anything from the turnpike to remote two-tracks will now hold near endless entertainment as I watch things like redtails high in the sky and northern harriers barely skimming the tops of prairie grass.

At least a dozen times I’ll pull-over and grab binoculars to see what a grounded hawk may have caught for lunch. On days of long drives I may keep count of how many of the big birds I see. I know I’ve counted more than 70 on several occasions.

It’s one of my favorite things about my favorite time of the year.