Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cattle Egret in Kansas

June, July, and August have been wet, but the rains won’t be enough to bring water tables back to normal, as the first half of the year was dry. Despite the recent rains in Kansas, those that keep track of precipitation say this is not enough to end the drought. Farmers in parched southwest Kansas say the unusually high amount of rain that fell in July came too late to help the winter wheat but the fields of summer corn look just fine.

Still the rain and the cooler temperatures make life in Kansas a little better. 

Now, you are driving the back roads of Kansas and you come across the unusual. Here is a herd of Cattle Egret (Bubulcus Ibis) summering at a Butler County, Kansas pond with cattle of course.

Cattle Egret with cattle in Butler County, Kansas

As I approach the pond with my camera, the egrets take flight, flying to a nearby tree.

cattle egret

Cattle Egret flying to tree

 [My daughter says I need a new telephoto lens.]

You are probably familiar with the snowy white egret that inhabits Kansas rivers. The Cattle Egret is the only white egret with both a yellow bill and yellow legs. The dark legs in many of the images comes from the muddy pond. Adult egrets have the distinctive yellow patches on the head and body. The orange stripe begins on the crown and continues down the back.

Cattle Egret in flight

Cattle Egret with orange patches

It flies in flocks for protection and feeds primarily on insects. It summers in Kansas and returns to Mexico during winter.

Cattle egret are believed to have originated in Africa and then spread to other parts of the world during the 19th century. Birding in Egypt.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Briles Schoolhouse, Franklin County, Kansas

Before the Civil War, Franklin County was home to several Indian tribes including the Osage and Ottawa. (Other tribes who settled in Franklin county included: the Piankeshaws, Weas and Peorias; Sacs and Foxes; Chippewas and Munsees. History of the State of Kansas by William G. Cutler's, 1883.).

As settlers arrived, the county became a battleground between Free-Staters and Slaveholders with visits by Missouri Boarder Ruffians. In 1856, the Pottawatomie Rifle Company was organized in nearby Pottawatomie valley. Composed of Free-State men, about one hundred in number, its captain was John Brown, Jr..

Briles Schoolhouse, founded 1868

Briles Schoolhouse – Built in 1868 and closed in 1960, the school is now a community center, Through the efforts of the Full O’ Pep 4-H, the State Highway Dept. paid to have the school moved in lieu of paying for the right-of-way when K-68 Highway was widened in 1980.

The DirtBum

The school, on Highway 68 at Texas Road, is Stop 8 on the Driving Tour of Northeast Franklin County.The school is District 48 on the Kansas Historical Atlas for 1903. The land was deeded by John Briles, 9 July 1868, for the consideration of 1 cent, 1 acre (SW1/4 of S30 T16 R21).

From the notes of Philetus Fales (Classics teacher, Ottawa University administrator, superintendent of the Indian Department, and twice Franklin County superintendent of schools).
Dec.31, 1868   “Visited school in District 48. Fine stone schoolhouse, but not furnished. On account of mud, only slim attendance. Mr. McClure teacher, 35 enrolled.”

By 1869, the school was down to 19 students. Franklin County Digital History.

WC Briles is the land owner of record on the 1903 Kansas Atlas Township/Range 16-21.

detail, Peoria Township 1903

detail, Franklin County, 1903 Kansas Atlas

Peoria Township, Township/Range 16-21

Franklin County, Kansas Atlas 1903