Early photographer gets the wildlife shots

Most of the day Kansas outside of air-conditioned buildings and cars is at a stand-still. Not much moves when it’s 100-plus degrees for the umpteenth day this month. But if your timing is right you can find a lot of activity in the Kansas wilds.

This was the only fawn that could be seen with two mature does early Friday morning. You have to wonder if others hadn't fallen prey earlier in the summer because of the drought.

I left home a bit before 5:30 a.m. Friday morning and headed to Quivira. An hour later sunshine was just beginning to really spread across the acclaimed national wildlife refuge when I arrived.

It didn’t take long to find things to photograph. A few geese were scattered on the Little Salt March. A mile or so to the north I caught a velvet-antlered whitetail just before he slipped into the relatively cool shadows of a cottonwood grove.

A hen quail heads for safety in a thicket of wild plum. Pretty good camo, huh?

On down the road I found more deer, including a spotted fawn that was more wary of vehicles than the does she was with. I got photos of a bob and hen bobwhite quail but was disappointed they had no chicks scurrying with them.

Up at the Big Salt Marsh I didn’t find an big amounts of water. Shorebirds like avocets worked the moist mudflats for  breakfast. Dead carp littered ares that had long been dry. A big flock of pelicans sat a quarter-mile or more from the shore, probably resting in only  a few inches of water.

I shot more photos of shorebirds and then again more of deer. Stopping by a bridge I walked a section of Rattlesnake Creek and saw where deer tracks came and went from a stagnant pool of water. It’s the kind of place where the midges that spread EHD to Kansas deer are probably thriving.

A long-legged avocet looks for snails and other goodies in the shallows of the Big Salt Marsh.

Little was moving on my drive back through the refuge. Deer traffic was down to a sighting about ever half-hour to just one or two distant whitetails headed into cover.

A small pond that had held six or seven great blue herons on the drive up to the Big Salt Marsh was down to just one and it was very spooky.

With little happening I decided to make the hour-long drive home. Checking I noticed I’d shot more than 250 frames, of which 30 or so would later be considered “keeper” photos.

As I drove out Quivira’s south entrance I noticed it was 8: 17 a.m. Most of my friends at The Eagle weren’t at work yet. On the way home I saw little evidence of wildlife on the move.

By then the 5 a.m. wake-up certainly seemed very worth the trouble. (To see more photos from the photography trip to the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge go to www.kansas.com/outdoors any time after Sunday morning. Open the story about drought and click on the link to the photo gallery.)

A velvet-antlered whitetail buck stops to check his backtrail before bedding early Friday morning.