Field Trips

There’s nothing we enjoy more than introducing you to birds or helping you find things in nature. Our volunteers who lead these field trips work hard to make sure we’re exposing you to a diverse amount of habitats throughout the entire greater Kansas City area and beyond. Field trips visit all the habitats that our birds rely on for their survival – wetlands, woodlands, prairies and grasslands, agriculture, urban, and savannah.  

Photo of a field trip enjoying sunrise at Hillsdale Lake

Sunrise at Hillsdale Lake during a fall Field Trip.

For all field trips, we recommend that you dress for the weather, in layers, and bring water, snacks and insect repellent. In the details, we’ll let you know if you need to bring lunch or lunch money. Almost everything that Burroughs Audubon offers is free, even to non-members.  

Some field trips are low-impact and are spent in the car, so if you own any FRS radios, we encourage you to bring them so that bird sightings can be shared between vehicles. Some of the trips are walking trails once you meet. Any questions you have regarding the trips can be answered by the field-trip coordinators or by the volunteer leader of that specific trip.

In addition to Burroughs Field Trips, other nature walks and bird walks are available around the Kansas City Area. Below is a list of locations offering additional trips for your consideration. If you would like your field-trips page listed below please contact Burroughs.

 

Upcoming Trips

 

August 2018

 

Friday, August 24th through Sunday, August 26th – Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira

We’ll look for summer residents and southbound migrating birds as they stop-over at these two important wetlands and the areas surrounding Central Kansas. We hope to observe rails, shorebirds, owls, and hopefully other western species not often seen near Kansas City. This trip is spread out over three-days but the main part of this trip is all-day Saturday and half of Sunday. Feel free to join us for all or just part of the trip.

Participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging arrangements to Great Bend, KS. There are many options around the area to stay, feel free to shop around, but Malcolm has been very pleased with the rate and service at the Quality Inn. An exceptional rate of $64 is available for “Burroughs Audubon” at the Quality Inn for a 2nd-floor room with 2 queen beds. The deadline to reserve a room at this rate is August 12th. The Quality Inn is pet-friendly, has a tiny pool, and has breakfast in the morning.  In addition, this hotel will be the meeting location for a couple of the trip departures. For those who wish to carpool to Great Bend please contact Malcolm to make arrangements or coordinate with others on the Friends of Burroughs Audubon Society Facebook page.

A tentative schedule is as follows with the Quality Inn parking lot will be the meeting point for carpooling. Meet Friday, August 24th at 7 pm as we search for Owls near CB. If you are up for an early Saturday departure to check for rails at Quivira we will leave at 6 am on August 25th. If an early departure is not your preference, feel free to meet the group at 8:30 am at the Quivira Environmental Education Center 1 mile south of NE 140th St. The morning trip around Big Salt Marsh will end around lunch time at which time individuals can grab lunch back in Great Bend of in the car if they planned ahead. At 3 pm on Saturday we will meet and likely head toward Larned for the afternoon. We’ll meet at 8 pm to relax and socialize over supper at Page An American Bistro. Please text or email Malcolm if you plan to attend the supper so that an approximate headcount can be given to prepare for the group so that we might all sit together. On Sunday August 26th we will meet at 8 am at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center on Hwy K-156 to explore Cheyenne Bottoms. We’ll try to stick to this schedule as best we can, but if a zootie shows up the schedule is likely to be broken.

Bring your scope, camera, binoculars, bug spray, suntan, snacks and drinks for a weekend at these great locations. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Malcolm Gold at 608-807-6086 or malcolmgold@gmail.com.

 

September 2018

 

Saturday, September 8th – Prairie Center

This field trip is walking gravel trails of Prairie Center in search for lingering breeding birds as well as southbound flycatchers, vireos, warblers, and hawks. We’ll enjoy the insects, plants, and sounds of this re-established prairie on this morning/half-day trip. Meet at the parking lot at the corner of 135th St and Cedar Niles Rd at 7 am. This moderate 2.5 mile hike contains two creek crossings that may be wet depending on the weather conditions. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.  

The leader for this trip is Nic Allen. For more information, contact Nic at kcbirder@gmail.com.

 

Thursday, September 20th – Longview Lake

We will check a couple of locations for terns, gulls, southbound migrating warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and whatever else we can find on this local morning trip. Additional details regarding meeting location and time will be added later.

The leader for this trip is Malcolm Gold. For more information, contact Malcolm at malcolmgold@gmail.com or 608-807-6086.

 

October 2018

 

Friday October 5th through Sunday October 7thFall KOS  

The fall meeting is tentatively planned for Lawrence. This is a nice opportunity to meet other birders from around Kansas relatively close to home. Registration information and website will be linked when it becomes available. Sunday field trips will be around the area and may include a search for Yellow Rails.

 

Saturday, October 13th – Hillsdale Lake

The Franklin’s Gull migration through eastern Kansas is a spectacle unique to the region. Join us as we scan Hillsdale Lake at first light to count Franklin’s Gulls and check the State Park for waterfowl, gulls, raptors, sparrows, and whatever else is around. There is a $5 daily Vehicle Entry Fee for Hillsdale State Park if you don’t have a pass. And remember it is always nice to chip in for gas if you are carpooling. After checking Hillsdale State Park the group will drive to the north end of Hillsdale Lake and Antioch Marsh to check for shorebirds, gulls, and waterfowl before walking the marsh checking for wrens, sparrows, and possibly rails. Bring rubber boots if you have them for the second part of the trip. Bring all the usual items, including binoculars, scopes, FRS radios, drinks, snacks, and dress appropriately in layers (lakes can be cold and windy at dawn yet the marsh may warm up around noon).

Your leader of this trip is Mark Land. We’ll meet at 6:30 am in the parking lot in front of PetSmart near I-35 and 119th in Overland Park to carpool and caravan for this trip that is expected to end early afternoon. If coming from other areas, feel free to meet at contact Mark for a meeting spot near Hillsdale. For more information, contact Mark at markeland@kc.rr.com or 816-590- 9814.

 

October 20th and 21st or October 27th and 28th – Hitchcock Nature Center, Iowa

Hitchcock Nature Center is one of the premier fall hawk watch locations in the Midwest and is located approximately 15 miles north east of Council Bluffs Iowa. As an official hawk watch location it has a counter on top of a 45 foot tower in addition to a banding station and hiking trails. Additional details to come once the date is confirmed.

 

Saturday, October 27th – Clinton Lake Outlet Park

We’ll walk a field searching for Le Conte’s Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, and other southbound migrants and winter residents. This walk is about a mile in wet conditions through tall grass and advise rubber boots and rain pants if you have them. The half-day trip will continue to Baker Wetlands, Clinton Lake, or another neighboring location mid morning and the trip will end by lunch. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Rodney Wright. For carpooling meet at Wendy’s located northeast of the Woodland Drive and K-10 intersection in Lenexa Kansas at 6:30 am. Alternatively meet at the Clinton International Model Airport shortly after 7 am. For additional information, contact Rodney at (913) 548-1486.

 

November 2018

 

Saturday, November 3rd – Smithville Lake joint with Midland Empire Audubon Society

We’ll stop and scope Smithville Lake from multiple locations in search of southbound migrating gulls, waterfowl, loons, and grebes.  Additional meeting times, location, and trip leader information will be added in the future.

 

 

Saturday, November 17th – Miami and Linn Counties

We’ll stop and scope Hillsdale Reservoir, Miola Lake, Paola Water Treatment Ponds, Unit G, and La Cygnes Lake for waterfowl, gulls, grebes and loons. We’ll also explore the areas for wintering sparrows and year-round residents.  This trip is mostly a driving trip with minimal walking involved. We’ll stop at Casey’s in Pleasanton for lunch so feel free to bring a sack lunch or snacks if convenience store food is not your preference.  Bring optics, field guides, and FRS radios. Dress in layers, as conditions are often cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Malcolm Gold. Meet at 7 am in the parking lot in front of PetSmart near I-35 and 119th in Overland Park to carpool and caravan for this all-day trip. For more information, contact Malcolm at malcolmgold@gmail.com or 608-807-6086.

 

Saturday, November 24th – Loess Bluffs NWR joint with Midland Empire Audubon Society

We’ll witness multitudes of Snow Geese and waterfowl, as well as dozens of Bald Eagles. We’ll gather at the Loess Bluffs Welcome Center around 8:45 a.m., and begin our first trip around the refuge’s 10-mile auto tour loop around 9:00. We’ll return to the visitor center around 12:30 p.m. to use the picnic tables for lunch and restrooms before making a second pass around the loop in the afternoon. Bring a sack lunch, snacks, optics, field guides, and FRS radios. Dress in layers, as conditions are often cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Mike Stoakes. For carpooling, meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Platte City commuter lot. For more information, contact Mike at mstoakes@juno.com or 816-554-1956.

 

December 2018

 

Saturday, December 1st – Johnson County joint with Topeka Audubon

Join us as we explore western Johnson County for winter migrants, waterfowl, and sparrows. We will walk trails at Kill Creek Park, Shawnee Mission Park, and scope bodies of water. Bring optics, field guides, and FRS radios. This trip will likely continue into the afternoon but feel free to join us for part or all of the trip. Bring a lunch or money to grab a quick lunch when we stop at one of the many fast-food locations. Dress in layers, as conditions are often cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Aaron Batterbee. Meet at 8 am at Lexington Lake Park. For more information, contact Aaron at abatterbee25@gmail.com.

 

Saturday, December 8th  – Lyon, Coffey, and Osage Counties

This trip consists of birding by car with stops around Melvern Reservoir, a short bit of walking around Lyon County State Fishing Lake, and stops around John Redmond Reservoir in search of winter species such as Smith’s Longspurs, grebes, loons, scoters, gulls, shrikes, sparrows, and Long-eared Owls. Bring food, beverages, and FRS radios for this all-day trip. If participants are interested, traditionally some stop at Guy and Mae’s Tavern in Williamsburg afterwards for BBQ ribs and to compile a trip total. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Matt Gearheart. Meet at 7 am in the parking lot in front of PetSmart near I-35 and 119th in Overland Park to carpool and caravan for this all-day trip. For more information, contact Matt at gearheart.matt@gmail.com or (913) 568-4678.

 

December 14th through January 5thChristmas Bird Counts!

Information on how to participate with local Christmas Bird Counts will be added as local compilers make it available.

 

February 2019

 

Saturday, February 9th – Shawnee SFL and Banner Creek joint with Topeka Audubon – Details will be added soon

 

Saturday, February 23rd – Clinton Reservoir and Perry Lake

Join us as we scan Clinton Reservoir and Perry Lake for waterfowl, gulls, and raptors and check other locations for sparrows, shrikes, finches, and whatever else is around. Bring all the usual items, including binoculars, scopes, FRS radios, drinks, snacks, cold weather gear (lakes are always windy places and it’s still February). We will bird Clinton in the morning, then stop for lunch at a local venue(usually Jason’s Deli). We will continue to Perry for an afternoon of birding. There is a $5 daily Vehicle Entry Fee for Clinton State Park if you don’t have a pass. And remember it is always nice to chip in for gas if you are carpooling. This is an all day trip but you’re welcome to participate as long as you like.

Your leader of this trip is Mark Land. Meet at 7:30 am at Wendy’s north of K-10 on Woodland Drive for carpooling and to caravan west. If coming from other areas, we will meet at the Corp of Engineers office at the Clinton State Park entrance shortly after 8 am. In case of cancellation the back-up date is Saturday March 2nd and the cancellation notice will be posted here on the Burroughs Website and Friends of Burroughs Audubon Facebook Page. For more information, contact Mark at markeland@kc.rr.com or 816-590- 9814.

 

Brief reports from past Field Trips 

We encourage you to share your experience with others. Add your photos to the trip list within eBird, share them on social media, and invite your friends to an upcoming trip.

 

7/14/2018 – A dozen individuals participated in the first annual Grandview NABA Butterfly count. The group ended up with 38 different butterfly species between Jerry Smith Park and Meadowmere Park. In addition to the amazing count of butterflies, the group observed over 30 different species of summer breeding resident bird species.

6/12/2018 – Six individuals conducted a summer breeding bird census at Jerry Smith Park. Indigo Buntings, Dickcissels, American Goldfinches, and Field Sparrows were numerous!

6/9/2018 – Seven birders walked the trails along the Blue River near Minor Park and found 38 species on a humid but sunny and windless morning. The highlight was a fair number and variety of warblers.

6/3/2018 – Twenty-four people enjoyed the unique tall-grass prairie at Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie Natural Areas. Bobolinks, Upland Sandpipers and other prairie species highlighted a trip which included a Henslow’s Sparrow and a Greater Prairie Chicken.

5/22/2018 – A short walk around KCP&L Wetlands yielded three different types of flycatchers for the 8 participants among the 50 species. Overall there was a low diversity of shorebirds but the group had excellent views of Bell’s Vireos.

5/18/2018 – A leisurely walk below the dam at Shawnee Mission Park and stop near the Boy Scout Camp 1 yielded a few species and Chuck-will’s-widows for the 22 participants. The group was unsuccessful in hearing Eastern Whip-poor-wills at Blackhoof Park. 

5/17/2018 – A large group commandeered the multi-use trail at Tomahawk Park to enjoy both breeding birds and migrants. Blackburnian Warblers and a nest-building Ruby-throated Hummingbird were the highlights from this morning walk.

5/15/2018 – Ten individuals walked the paved trails of Blackhoof Park and enjoyed 75 species. Many warblers were heard but few were seen well. An Olive-sided Flycatcher provided nice views for everyone.

5/12/2018 – Nineteen individuals surveyed Fort Leavenworth. A total of 94 species, including 14 Warblers, and a wonderful mixture of migrant and summer residents of grassland, riparian, and hardwood forest floodplain were observed. This is a unique habitat and the sheer number of American Redstarts and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks observed on the lowlands makes this a trip everyone should experience. 

5/11/2018 – Three participants enjoyed a variety of waders, waterfowl, raptors, and passerines on the Blue River Parkway Spring Migration Census. Highlights included a flyover by a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, two Green Herons flying together, and a Broad-winged Hawk. A male Wood Duck perching in a large Sycamore tree, a number of first-of-season Yellow-billed Cuckoos and 14 different warbler species were observed! Join us again at this site on Saturday, June 9 for the Breeding Bird Census.

5/10/2018 – A group of five people observed 99 species around Hillsdale Lake. A singing Pine Warbler was observed by one person who arrived a bit early while others were out listening to Chuck-will’s-widows.

5/8/2018 – Fifty-three species of migrants and resident songbirds were observed by 10 individuals at Antioch Park.

5/8/2018 – Forty-seven species of mostly migrant and resident songbirds were observed by 5 individuals on the Jerry Smith Park Spring Migration Census. Good looks (and vocalizations) at Least Flycatcher and House Wren. Join us again at this site on Tuesday, June 12 for the Breeding Bird Census.

5/3/2018 – Approximately 50 species of diverse migrant Warblers, Vireos, lingering sparrows and summer residents were observed by 11 individuals at Shannon Valley Park in Overland Park. 

4/28/2018 – Twelve individuals searched Neosho Wildlife Area and found 98 different species!  Included in the species included a Neotropic Cormorant and many shorebirds.

4/26/2018 – Eight individuals enjoyed the calm, but brisk, morning at Tomahawk Park. Only a handful of migrant passerines were found among the 38 species.

4/24/2018 – Five individuals enjoyed a nice hike around Shawnee Mission Park, finding a male Lesser Goldfinch among 45 other species!

4/21/2018 – Twelve individuals the autoloop at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge and ended with 95 species for the day.  A Piping Plover among many shorebirds, a hybrid Cinnamon Teal among the waterfowl, sparrows, and a Broad-Winged Hawk to start the day were the highlights.

4/17/2018 – A cold morning walk at KCP&L Wetlands in Gardner yielded 37 species for the seven participants. If the habitat remains as nice as it is now we expect a good variety of shorebirds to show up here, but future morning walks this year will be at various other locations.  A Yellow-headed Blackbird and variety of shorebirds highlighted this trip.

4/15/2018 – A group of four hardy souls drove through snow to arrive at Four Rivers Conservation Area and occasionally left the warmth cars to scan the amazing habitat with scopes. A Peregrine Falcon hunting the flats at the headquarters, numerous shorebirds at Presidents Marsh, and a surprise Long-tailed Duck highlighted the 72 species trip.

3/17/2018 – Nine people gathered for a windy and overcast St. Patrick’s Day field trip through the Osage Plains of Cass and Henry Counties in western MO. Migratory waterfowl were well represented in nearly all areas visited, but the highlights of day involved perusing grassy areas of recent managed and unplanned burns. Many birds are attracted to such landscapes by the killed invertebrates, small vertebrates, and seeds that are readily accessible in the immediate aftermath of a fire. Species observed utilizing burned areas on Saturday included Killdeer, Northern Flicker, Horned Lark, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, American Pipit, American Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Rusty Blackbird.

3/9/2018 – 16 people gathered at Prairie Center in Olathe to view American Woodcocks. For six high school students and three others this was the first time seeing that species!

3/7/2018 – On a cool but relatively calm night 9 individuals enjoyed the calling, flight displays, and observations of American Woodcocks and Jerry Smith Park.

2/24/2018 – Overcast skies, a light drizzle, and fog were made it challenging to find gulls at Clinton Lake. A group of 14 people were unable to relocate the juvenile Black-Legged Kittiwake that has been around but did find a pair of Glaucous Gulls and a White-Winged Scoter among the almost 60 species.

2/17/2018 – Nineteen people enjoyed this joint trip to Shawnee State Fishing Lake and Banner Creek, areas. Rough-Legged Hawks, waterfowl, and sparrows were found across many locations.

1/23/2018 – Three participants conducted a winter survey of Jerry Smith park and found 24 species during a couple hour walk.  A beautiful photo of an overwintering Hermit Thrush is included in this checklist.

1/21/2018 – Fifteen people spent the morning scoping Wyandotte County lake and walking a few trails finding over 40 species and a nice diversity of waterfowl.

1/20/2018 On icy and muddy trails, six folks joining the Blue River Parkway Winter Bird Census found 31 species along a 1.6-mile stretch of the Blue River corridor, including Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Winter Wren, and Hermit Thrush.

2017 Trip Reports and Year Totals

 

Have ideas? Please share them with us.

If you love getting out in nature and are interested in leading or co-leading a trip, if you have ideas of where a group could visit, or perhaps if you have a specific species in mind that you would like to see then please contact Burroughs. Direct your inquiry toward the field trip coordinators and they will get in contact with you to see what can be done.

Field trip coordinators Mike Stoakes and Malcolm Gold

(L to R) Mike Stoakes and Malcolm Gold

Alternatively feel free share your ideas with the coordinators the next time you see them in the field. The coordinators are Mike Stoakes and Malcolm Gold.