One advantage of living and working near the 99th Meridian is the ample opportunity for wildlife sightings.
Some of my favorites are the fleeting ones when car (or bicycle) and wildlife briefly intersect. It’s all a matter of serendipitous timing.
In the last couple of months, many of those sightings have been more memorable from others. I wish I had had a camera when I saw the great horned owl (aka “tiger of the sky”) sitting, midday, on a metal post just off of Highway 54 a few miles east of Pratt, peering toward the north, perhaps pondering good hunting spots for that evening. Just last week, another missed photo opportunity, as I watched a young coyote nudge a plastic sack tossed out by some Highway 54 driver between Cullison and Haviland. I suspect that pup was the same one I saw today lying alongside the highway in the same vicinity: he didn’t make it across. Just this morning, I witnessed a red-tailed hawk swoop down to the ground, landing beside the road as my car whizzed by on its way south toward Coldwater on Highway 183. I don’t know what his catch was.
I have been reading lately in the Tribune about how dismayed Steve Gilliland, who writes “Exploring Kansas Outdoors,” has been at the lack of deer this season. That wasn’t the case tonight on my dirt road ride west on NW 10th St., where I sent seven doe running for cover as I pedaled by a few miles northwest of town. Perhaps those deer knew that the Special Extended Firearm Whitetail Antlerless ended just yesterday.
Anyway, wildlife sighting, like hunting, is not just a matter of good timing, but it’s also about keeping your eyes open and “your radar on” (a favorite expression of one of my Fort Hays State professors). Here’s hoping that 2014 yields many wildlife sightings for you and your friends. As for me, I’ll be keeping one eye on the road ahead while the other eye scans the skies and roadsides.