Uninvited guests can wreak havoc at a party. No Kansas wheat farmer wants to provide a never-ending buffet for tens of thousands of geese. But, for a couple of weeks, migrating geese evidently saw an all-you-can-eat buffet sign flashing green from the heavens. And they said, "Don't mind if I do!"
Farmers would try to send them on their way by honking their horns and making more drivebys than a police cruiser trying to clean up a shady neighborhood. But about as soon as farmers moseyed on down the road to the next location, the geese circled back for another taste of tender green wheat.
While hunters might have enjoyed the influx of geese in Central Kansas, wheat farmers prefer the feathered beasts find their buffet elsewhere, since they can eat a young wheat field to bare ground faster than a teenage boy and his friends can plow through a bag of chips.
But along with the geese, we had some more unusual visitors to our farm. A group of six larger birds also came to call. They weren't too sociable. Like a shy junior high girl at a middle school dance, they tended to stay away from the crowd. (And since I don't have fancy camera equipment, the photos aren't the best, but I still wanted to share a glimpse of our unusual visitors.)
They were also a bit camera shy. Cars down our country road had them scurrying away.
First, the swans made themselves at home in the middle of 80 acres about 3/4 of a mile south of our house. They were bigger than geese, so at first, we wondered if they were the whooping cranes that migrate through our area near the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. But binoculars revealed no black wing tips, so we were puzzled.
By the time thousands of geese arrived at the same field, the mystery birds moved north a field, keeping to themselves.
They brought a little birdwatching traffic to our country road. And a neighbor confirmed what Randy and I had discovered after a little internet sleuthing. The birds were swans, and, more specifically, tundra swans.
Tundra swans? This mild Kansas winter hasn't provided much snow or ice. They should have gotten the invitation last year, when we had plenty of white stuff to make them feel at home.
But, instead, they came this year and stayed for three weeks or so before exiting with as little fanfare as they arrived.