Monthly Archives: August 2010

Intense heat = poor accuracy

August is often the worst of summer’s heat but it’s also time to get bows and guns ready for fall hunting seasons. I’ve been flinging arrows for a few weeks but needed to get a family muzzleloader tuned in case somebody decides to use it on deer in late September.

I tried Sunday  morning after church. Even prayers couldn’t get any kind of accuracy.

The barrel was returned dirty after I loaned it to a friend last fall so I spent the first 10 minutes getting the barrel swabbed clean of old black powder. The first two shots were decent.  I couldn’t even hit a 12-inch target at 100 yards after those. At the time I figured the barrel had become too hot to be consistently accurate.

I cleaned the rifle and headed home frustrated.

I’ve never gotten a great explanation as to why a hot barrel doesn’t shoot accurately but I know it’s a fact. Our centerfires that’ll group 1-inch at 100 yards when cool will open up to 4-5-inches if the barrel gets hot. Blackpowder rifles are notoriously worse.

Hank and I headed out at 6:30 this morning. Bingo! With four shots, good cleanings between shots and a little tweaking with the scope and the rifle was dead-on at 100 yards.

I still need to check the point of impact at 50 and 150 yards but I’ll wait until the weather cools a bit and do it at the coolest part of the day.

Intense heat and accuracy never mix.

In Ted Nugent’s words

Few are as passionate or as vocal about causes they love as Ted Nugent. No doubt those who attend his concert Sunday at the Hartman Arena – tickets still available – will hear his thoughts on hunting, gun control, the military and American politics.

I got to spend a little time with “Uncle Ted” about 12 years ago when we were speakers at a National Shooting Sports Foundation summit in Virginia. The guy’s not talking just to hear his voice, he really cares.

A little looking online provided the following Ted Nugent quotes.

“If you want to save a species, simply decide to eat it. Then it will be managed – like chickens, like turkeys, like deer, like Canadian geese.

“Look what venison does to a goofy guitar player from Detroit? I’m going to be 54 this year and if I had any more energy I’d scare you.

Mankind: A quality of life upgrade is available to each and every one of you. It should give you a quality of life upgrade, which means no drugs, no alcohol, no fast food – unless, of course, it’s a mallard.”

“There are hundreds of millions of gun owners in this country, and not one of them will have an accident today. The only misuse of guns comes in environments where there are drugs, alcohol, bad parents, and undisciplined children. Period.

“Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians – except for the occasional mountain lion steak.

“I don’t partake in assembly-line convenience. I don’t say that killing things is bad while I hire people to kill things for me.”

“If you want your body to be healthier, get off the salmonella, e-coli, mad cow, assembly-line toxic hell train! God I love that statement. What did I just say?”

Mass of purple martins doesn’t disappoint

Kathy and I took two good friends to see the purple martins go to roost at the Via Christi parking lot in Wichita last night.

It was a great show, again.

Birds started gathering in the sky above the hospital at about 8:15. The best action was between 8:40 and 9.

We parked in the parking lot directly south of the main building. The birds are roosting in the trees at the east side of that parking lot…the same as last summer.

No idea how many birds but it’s well into the tens of thousands.

Our friends were very impressed. No doubt Kathy will want it to become an annual event.

The only disappointing part was that there were only four cars of spectators to watch one of Kansas’ top wildlife displays.

It is certainly the most accessible.

The silence of a sizzling summer

Stepping from my car last evening the silence was so wide-spread it caught my attention. There were none of the usual sounds of children playing, lawns being mowed or even cars passing on a usually busy street nearby.

No doubt the extreme heat had many inside who normally would have been outside.

And there were no birds singing and no Mississippi kites or chimney swifts crossing the sky overhead.

Driving home at 4:30 p.m. I noticed far fewer people on the streets of Wichita and the highways heading to Newton.

Next to a bad blizzard probably nothing shuts central Kansas down more than oppressive heat.

Right now those pleasant months between the last of a red-hot summer and the winter’s first blizzard sound so appealing.

Big final figures on least terns

This year's nesting 0f least terns in Wichita is officially over.
Their success was absolutely fantastic.

Here's a summary compiled by Nathan Ofsthun of the 
Great Plains Nature Center.

It has been copied from an online report with his permission.

"Below is a summary of the nesting colony of the federally endangered
Interior Least Terns in Wichita for 2010. These birds have been monitored by
Charlie Cope (KDWP), Bob Gress (GPNC), and me (GPNC). The birds nested on
one of the sandpits owned by LaFarge North America. We would like to express
our thanks and gratitude to the company for their willingness and
cooperation in halting and adjusting their operations for 2 months. Our
nesting colony of Least Terns enjoyed a secure and very productive year.

Least Terns were first observed in Wichita on 15 May at the convergence of
the Big Ditch and the Arkansas River. Up to 12 adults were sighted until 29
May. During this 2 week period, pair formation, fish flights, and several
copulations were observed. Up to 6 terns were also seen on sandbars on the
Arkansas River immediately north of K-96. The terns disappeared from both
sites for several days until we received a call from the plant manager at
LaFarge sandpits on 4 June. The terns had relocated to the site that they
had chosen in 2009. An initial survey found 6 nests. By 8 June, a total of
12 nests had been located with 2 or 3 eggs each. Heavy rains washed out 3 of
the nests on 9 June, but on 15 June, 3 new nests were found and were assumed
to be renests. By 20 June, 2 additional nests were located, bringing the
total number of active nests to 14. On 21 June, the first chicks hatched; by
30 June, a total of 22 chicks had hatched from the first 9 active nests. An
additional nest with 3 eggs was found on 24 June (see fifth paragraph).
Between 7 July and 13 July, 9 more chicks hatched. On 14 July, the latest
observation of renesting for the year was recorded. A single egg was found
in a scrape that was being incubated; however, the egg disappeared by 20
July. Between 9 July and 30 July, a minimum of 25 chicks were observed to
have reached the fledgling stage.

A total of 19 nests were located this summer, although the greatest number
of active nests at one time was 15. A total of 50 eggs were laid of which 31
hatched, 7 were flooded, and 12 were abandoned for unknown reasons. Of the
31 chicks that hatched, 25 were known to have fledged, and 1 was found dead
(probably Common Grackle predation). While we were never able to account for
the 5 “missing” chicks, it is more than possible that several flighted
juveniles left the nesting site or were concealed behind vegetation and
terrain and were, accordingly, not counted. The highest count of adult Least
Terns was 30 (18 July); the average number of adults seen between 4 June and
31 July was 24. Knowing that one adult in each respective pair was often
away fishing or at least not in the general area of its respective scrape, a
count of 30 adults was exceptional knowing that no more than 15 nests were
active at any one time during the season. Although there may have been
transient adults at any given time during the nesting season, 15 nests for a
highly monogamous species should theoretically equal 30 adults. In addition,
1 first-summer Least Tern was observed between 14 June; 2 first-summer Least
Terns were sighted the following day; a single first-summer Least Tern was
subsequently seen until the end of the nesting season. In 2009, only 2
chicks fledged from the Wichita site. Although we cannot say with certainty
that these were chicks that fledged from our site, we have reason to suspect
that the fidelity of one of the chicks to our site indicated that it may
indeed have been born at this Wichita site.

The range in days-to-hatch for our 31 eggs was 19 to 23 days (± 12 hours);
the average was 20.1 days. This falls within the established range
nationwide. However, the established range in days-to-fledging is set at 19
to 20+ days. Our range in days to fledging was 16 to 19 days (± 12 hours);
the average was 17.9 days. It is perhaps notable to mention that 2 chicks
was flighted on day 16; 4 chicks were flighted on day 17; 16 chicks were
flighted on day 18; and 3 chicks were flighted on day 19. Only 12% of our
chicks became flighted within the established range; the remainder were all
flighted well before day 19.

Perhaps the most remarkable observation from this year involved a certain
Nest 18, which underwent a remarkable journey of survival. This nest was
quite accidentally discovered on 24 July; the nest, containing 3 eggs, was
located in a bootprint that we had left behind on a previous survey. During
the heavy rains surrounding the Independence Day weekend, this nest was
washed away. The three eggs were carried 9 feet away from the original
scrape and embedded in the mud approximately 1.5 feet away from each other.
These eggs were observed in this condition on two consecutive days and were
exposed to several heavy rains. A subsequent visit found the three mud-caked
eggs regrouped in a new pebble-lined scrape. We assumed that the eggs had
not been incubated for a period of more than 36 hours, and our expectations
were low for this nest. However, we were most pleasantly surprised to
discover that two of the eggs hatched on time, and these chicks proceeded to
reach the fledgling stage.

Another interesting observation was watching the combined effort of Least
Terns and Western Kingbirds in driving away a Red-tailed Hawk."