Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is not only centrally
located in the United States, but also centrally and strategically
located in the Central Flyway for migratory birds. Throughout
any given year hundreds of species of shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl
and other visiting or migratory birds pass through the richly
bio-diverse landscape, or even call it home for a while.
Many years ago, Quivira was primarily privately
owned marshland that was too wet to farm most years but a real
haven for sportsmen and many hunting clubs. There are still a
few sportsmen leases on land adjacent to the refuge and public
hunting is allowed on some areas of the refuge. Waterfowl flock
into Quivira by the hundreds of thousands with the onset of winter.
In the late fall, while shorebirds still congregate, feeding before
their southward journeys, the Sand Hill Cranes and majestic and
exceedingly rare Whooping Cranes make their respective appearances.
The Whooping Cranes usually come through in different small groups
and depending on the weather and wind directions, may stay only
a day or two, or linger much longer.
In addition to the many species
of birds attracted by all the water and marshes, the areas sand
prairie habitat is home to myriad other creatures. Amphibians,
reptiles, mammal both large and small, abound in this area that
they call home. Raptors of all types ply the skies looking for
their next meal. Many good eagle and hawk viewing opportunities
present themselves to the always ready photographer. Deer, often
including a good number of protected (while on the refuge) trophy
bucks, display themselves freely before your lens. Pheasant,
Bobwhite quail, coyotes, bobcats, the list is quite diverse
and quite long.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
is well managed and well maintained by a competent federal staff
and a network of dedicated volunteers. A "Friends of Quivira"
group also exists which provides volunteers and hosts special
activities for nature lovers, birders, etc. Recently, a Kid's
Fishing Pond, stocked with some really nice fish was constructed
and opened near the headquarters. There are several all weather
and 2-3 county blacktops that traverse the boundaries of the
refuge. Access from all directions is easy. People from all
over the nation and even a few international visitors make their
way to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge every year.
The Wildlife Drive in the northwest
area of the refuge is a very popular destination for birders
and photographers, although plenty of opportunities for both
exist throughout the refuge and along some of the county roads
bordering it. Many Bald Eagles and numerous other raptors are
fall and winter residents which follow ducks around or hunt
above the prairie.
At any given time of the year,
numerous species of birds and many other animals can be readily
spotted. Many areas of Quivira are open to walking in and viewing;
although some refuge areas are closed to all public activity,
but are readily identified by signs stating this. With nearly
29,000 acres of wildlife area, there's something for almost
every outdoor and wildlife enthusiast.
When visiting Quivira National
Wildlife Refuge, plan on spending a minimum of most of a full
day and up to several days, depending on time of year, your
available time and your activities. The refuge is easy to find
and reach from both Hutchinson and Great Bend, KS. The headquarters
is just over one mile north of the paved 4th Street Road which
runs west from Hutchinson, KS, all the way to U.S. Highway 281
which comes south of Great Bend. Lodging is available in these
cities as well as a motel near St. John, one in Stafford, and
3-4 B&Bs in Stafford.
When visiting Quivira, remember,
your best blind for wildlife viewing and photography is your
vehicle. Bring the longest zoom lens you own as well as a shorter
one for scenic and landscapes. Some of the sunrises and sunsets
over the marsh and/or sand prairie are fabulous. Also, don't
forget binoculars, or a spotting scope for scanning the countryside
for birds and critters. If you're planning on spending some
time, don't forget some food and plenty of water to drink. The
wind coming off the water can be quite cool, even on a 75 degree
afternoon, so pack a light jacket. During the winter, dress
for a possibly very cold, icy, windy prairie.
Reptiles abound at Quivira National
Wildlife Refuge. Included in the long list of snakes is the
Western Massasauga Rattlesnake. One of the major creeks that
empty into the refuge is Rattlesnake Creek, so while the rattlesnakes
are not crawling everywhere, it is prudent to be cautious and
not go plunging through thick grass wearing merely sandals,
etc. Shorts and sandals, or low cut tennis type shoes should
stay on the roadways or mowed trails where you can see what's
around you. If you plan to trek off the beaten paths, wear pants
Bring plenty of film/memory cards;
take plenty of photos and memories. You should plan on hundreds
of photos. The National Wildlife Refuges scattered throughout
our great country are some of our national treasures, so let's
get out and enjoy them!
About the Author:
Segraves of Jerrys Photo & Imaging has been shooting
photos for over 30 years. Recently, he has decided to go pro
and is currently building a studio for portraiture photography
as well as still spending much time in the outdoors photographing
all aspects of nature, wildlife and scenic/landscapes.
Mr. Seagraves uses a Canon EOS 10D with a selection
of lenses almost exclusively and plans on purchasing a new EOS
1Ds in the near future.
Mr. Seagraves has been published in numerous
magazines and newspapers, including; Western & Eastern Treasures,
Kansas Wildlife, Lost Treasure Magazine, The Hutchinson News,
The Corpus Christi Caller Times, and is currently working with
Windigo Images to produce some outstanding hunting and fishing
stock photos for their repository.
Mr. Seagraves' online photographic galleries
can be seen at: