Friday, July 15, 2005

Birds at Gypsum Creek

Scruffy and I continue to take daily walks along Gypsum Creek. The truly-curious of you can have a look at this map of that portion of the creek that has the bike path--the stretch I walk is that which runs from Harry Rd. down to Woodlawn. Though the lack of rain these past few days has lowered the water level, the water continues to run fairly quickly for a shallow creek. Also, summer flowers have begun to appear, such as primroses similar to this Mexican primrose but most are not nearly so pink--they are very nearly white, in fact. Kansas, so far as I have seen while I've lived here, just doesn't have much to offer in the way of spring flowers--growing up in central Texas, which has a wide variety of spring flowers, has spoiled me in that regard. Nor are the grassy areas next to the creek just a riot of color now that it's summer. I'm no botanist, so I can't offer a reason why that would be. During this morning's walk, I speculated to myself that because, once upon a time, the grasses in Kansas could easily tickle the underbelly of a horse, low-growing flowers just never had much of a chance to evolve. And, of course, this part of Kansas can be quite chilly well into March; in Texas, the bluebonnets are in full bloom by that time.
Something I noticed on our very first walk that I've found fascinating is that the birds I've seen along the creek are of a completely different group of species than those I've seen around our house, not even 1/4 mile away from the creek. At the house, we see birds common to most urban areas in this part of the U.S.: robins, cardinals, jays, and some sort of sooty-colored sparrow that I don't know the name of. Down by the creek, though, I've seen all of one robin, and some pigeons have a nest under a street bridge that crosses the creek. Other than them, the birds I see by the creek are the sort you'd see out on the prairie.
I've included pics of the different species I've seen: barn swallow,

cattle egret



and mourning dove

In my first post on the creek, I mentioned that urban creeks pose an alternate way of thinking about the city-as-grid, that they re-order space--or, more accurately, remind the visitor of orders older than the city, than people themselves. It is intriguing to me that, here, even these distinct populations of birds--the ones that live among the houses and the ones who live by the creek--make manifest, by their presence, those alternate orders.
There's more to say about each of these species of birds; all that will be forthcoming. Of course, other animals live in and near the creek, too. As I get to know them better, I'll be posting about them, as well.

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Matt said...

Wow, just found your blog and ha an major childhood flashback.

Having spent a bit of my early years living near Zimmerly and Rock Rd., Gypsum Creek was a major destination for bike rides and general play (after, of course, I was allowed to cross Rock by myself, during it's two-lane period even).

Glad to find an east-side blogger.

John B. said...

Thanks for visiting and posting a comment. Long ago, another Wichitan stumbled onto my blog, but then she never commented on my blog again. Either there aren't many bloggers in Wichita, they're just not reading each other, or they're not interested in what others are writing.
As you no doubt gathered, I'll be posting more on the creek in the future next few days . . . but we'll be moving to a place just west of downtown in a couple of weeks, so that'll be the end of the Gypsum Creek talk. However, the new place is right on the Arkansas, so I'll probably be posting on those walks when they begin.

Matt said...

Moving to Riverside? How nice.

About the only Wichitans I'm in contact with through the blog are actually expats like myself. A lot of them found me during the BTK brouhaha and we've stayed in sporadic contact.