Comanche Pool Area Bird & Nature Tour - 2005 - Comanche County, Kansas Painted Bunting, Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by Kyle Gerstner, copyright Kyle Gerstner 2004.

All rights reserved. Used with his permission.
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Comanche County Nature Tour - Saturday, May 19th & 20th, 2007 - Comanche County, Kansas

Comanche Pool Area Bird & Nature Tour Scheduled for 21 May 2005.


Left to right: Burrowing Owl, Painted Bunting, Dicksissel. Photos by Left to right: Burrowing Owl, Painted Bunting, Dicksissel. <BR>Photos copyright Kyle Gerstner. All rights reserved.  Used with his permission.
Left to right: Burrowing Owl, Painted Bunting, Dicksissel. Photos copyright Kyle Gerstner

The 2005 Comanche Pool Area Bird & Nature Tour:

Buds, Birds, and Buffalo

Written by Evelyn Reed
for the Coldwater Chamber of Commerce

The hot windy weather did not diminish the enthusiasm of the thirty-three persons who took part in the Comanche Pool Area Bird and Nature Tour on Saturday, May 21, 2005. There were participants from as far away as Manter (Beverly Musgrove) and Peabody, Kansas (Kerri Kirkpatrick).

Coffee, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and bananas were served at registration in the west shelter house of Lake Coldwater. Then everyone went to the Nature Trail area. At this point two groups were formed. One group, led by Joyce Davis, went on the south end of the trail. The other led by Kerrie Kirkpatrick, went on the north end. Both groups saw and heard many birds and saw wildflowers and plants. Some plants were flagged.

The next stop on the tour was the area of the east dock, where everyone mingled freely. After this everyone proceeded to Deer Trail Camp, where two different trails were marked and individuals chose which to follow. Deer Trail Camp was originally Camp Lark and belonged to the First Presbyterian Church of Coldwater. There was a pond system but it has been abandoned. There are cabins available to the public since Mr. and Mrs. Jim Swisher purchased the property.

The Timberwolf Café served luncheon. During lunch break Phyllis Scherich answered questions previously asked about the area and gave an account of the Comanche Pool, an organization of cattleman officially organized in 1881. Phyllis lives where the headquarters of the Pool and the town of Evansville were located. Her husband Larry (Dee) is the foreman of the Merrill Ranch in that area. The Pool included almost all of Comanche County, some of Barber County and an area in Oklahoma adjoining these counties. Her presentation also included information on the history of the Z-Bar Cattle Company, once known as the Davis Ranch, and also as the Davis, Nolan, & Merrill Grain Company.

After lunch there was a short tour of Clara Louthan’s fantastic flower gardens before car-pooling to the Turner Z-Bar Ranch. Various birds and wildflowers were observed on the trip over dirt roads through the red hills of southeast Comanche County. Just east of the bridge across Indian Creek on the Merrill Ranch there were numerous plants of cobaea penstemon in full blossom.

Eva Yearout greeted the group on their arrival at the headquarters of the Turner Z-Bar Ranch. She is the wife of foreman Keith Yearout, and manages the office as well as working outside with Keith. She had a map that showed the 43,000-acre ranch, and gave information about the management of the 2,000 head of buffalo. She isn’t picky about whether the term buffalo or bison is used, although factually the animals are bison, or bison bison. Owner Ted Turner visits for about five days each year and hunts pheasant and quail, staying at the house built on the George Hodge ranch that later became a tenant house after Davis, Nolan, & Merrill bought the Hodge ranch, owned at that time by Jake and Betty Wilhelm. Evelyn Reed, a member of the group, lived in this same house when her husband Floyd worked there from 1959 to 1969.

After Eva’s introduction to raising buffalo, the group toured two areas of the ranch. The first was at an introduced prairie dog town where a large shed- like structure raised up off the ground, called a hacking box, has been built to house young golden eagles that will be turned out into the wild. They are fed at night so that no association between humans and food is created and they will not become dependent on a provided food supply.

The second area was around a pond, ‘Swan Lake,’ where buffalo were grazing and drinking. Eva tripped the cake release on the feed truck until the animals came up around the group. Some were across the pond and swam out to a small islet in the pond, then waded through shallower water to get to land where they could approach the group. They milled around considerably, the young calves nursing, or trying to, as the cows went for the cake.

The tour proceeded north to 160 Highway after this and on to Wilmore where they saw the Stan Herd mural and the city park. The mural depicts Tommy Wilmore and Cap Pepperd flipping a coin to decide who would name the town. The story is that Cap won the toss and named it after Tommy.

According to count kept by Kerrie Kirkpatrick and Joyce Davis, sixty-five species of birds were seen or heard. This included one each from the genera of pheasants, turkeys, quail, cormorants, herons, vultures, plovers, cuckoos, goatsuckers, swifts, shrikes, vireos, larks, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, starlings, waxwings, northern finches, and old world sparrows. Between two to four species were recorded from the genera of hawks, pigeons/doves, woodpeckers, jays/magpies/crows, swallows, thrushes, thrashers, warblers, sparrows, and grosbeaks/buntings. There were five species from the genus flycatcher, and nine from that of blackbirds/orioles.

There were twenty-four species of native plants flagged along the paved road around the lake, and twenty-two on the nature trail. Only two species were duplicated in the flagging. There are many species that were not flagged.

List of Birds on Comanche Pool Area Nature Tour

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild turkey

Northern Bobwhite

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Hawks, Kites, Eagles
Mississippi Kite
Swainson’t Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk


Pigeons, Doves
Rock pigeon
Eurasian Collared Dove
Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Red-headed woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe
Great-Crested Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed flycatcher

Loggerhead Shrike

Warbling Vireo

Jays, Magpies, Crows
Blue Jay
American Crow

Horned LarSwallows
Purple Martin
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow

Chickadees, Titmice
Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Swainson’s Thrush
American Robin

Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat

Chipping Sparrow
Filed Sparrow
Lark Bunting
Grasshopper Sparrow

Grosbeaks, Buntings
Northern Cardinal

Blackbirds, Orioles
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

Old World Sparrows
House Sparrow

List of Participants

Martie Aberson of Spearville, KS.
Pat Aubley of Sawyer, KS.
Ruby Booth of Coldwater, KS.
Joyce Davis of Dodge City, KS.
Virginia Hadley of Coldwater, KS.
Ian Hawkins of Medicine Lodge, KS.
Adelia Howard of Sylvia, KS.
Kerrie Kirkpatrick of Peabody, KS.
June Kliesen of Wilmore, KS.
Bud & Clara Louthan of Coldwater, KS.
Sandra McPeters of Coldwater, KS.
Nancy Moore of Bucklin, KS.
Laramie Moore of Bucklin, KS.
Melanie Mosier of Ellinwood, KS.
Beverly Musgrove of Manter, KS, KS.
Ramona Musgrove of Johnson, KS.
Lee & Jane Queal of Pratt, KS.
Lindell Redington of Lorraine, KS.
Evelyn Reed of Coldwater, KS.
Mark & Kathie Rogers of Pretty Prairie, KS.
Dee & Phyllis Scherich of Wilmore, KS.
Lawrence & Ellen Selzer of Coldwater, KS.
Burton & Virginia Snyder of St. John, KS.
Johnita Stalcup of Coldwater, KS.
Skip Vasey of Sylvia, KS.
Joan Wright of Larned, KS.
Morgan Wright of Larned, KS.
Donna Wygle of Pratt, KS.
There were also four Non-registered Participants.

Press Release written by Evelyn Reed.   Photos courtesy of Kyle Gerstner & Kevin Groeneweg.

Comanche Pool Area Bird & Nature Tour, 21 May 2005.

Burrowing Owl,  Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by Kyle Gerstner, copyright Kyle Gerstner 2004.

All rights reserved. Used with his permission.
Burrowing Owl, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo by Kyle Gerstner ,
Copyright © 2004, Kyle Gerstner. Used with his permission.

Coldwater Chamber of Commerce plans a day of birding and nature activities on May 21, 2005. This will be in the region of Lake Coldwater in Comanche County and on the Turner Ranch in Barber Country: the historic Comanche Pool, the nation’s largest cattle pool once encompassed both.

Registration will begin at 6:30 a.m.

Lake Coldwater has a great nature trail, and additional birding and wildlife viewing will be conducted at nearby Deer Trail Camp where a catered lunch will be served. During lunch there will be a re-cap of the mornings sightings and a short presentation on the Comanche Pool. Birders will then go to the Turner Ranch in Barber County.

Returning from there, a brief stop is planned at Wilmore to see the home of the Wilmore Opry and a Stan Herd Mural. There will be an open-pit hog roast on the Bud Louthan Farm at 6:30pm.

Dicksissel,  Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by Kyle Gerstner, copyright Kyle Gerstner 2004.

All rights reserved. Used with his permission.
Dicksissel, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo by Kyle Gerstner ,
Copyright © 2004, Kyle Gerstner. Used with his permission.

If you plan to arrive on Friday or stay over through Sunday --or both!-- there are several choices of lodging. These include the Comanche Motel (620-582-2104) in Coldwater, and Mule Creek Hideaway B&B (620-738-4331) in Wilmore. Very early reservations are suggested if you choose the Comanche Motel.

Additionally, Deer Trail Camp has rustic cabins: bedding and linens are needed.

For Deer Trail Camp, contact Johnita Stalcup by phone (620-582-2859), mail (P.O. Box 462, Coldwater, Ks 67029). or e-mail ( Camping is available at Lake Coldwater, contact the Coldwater City Office(620-582-2940).

Registration location is Coldwater Lake, (west side shelter) price $3.00. Coffee and Rolls.

Reservations are required for the catered lunch and the open-pit hog roast. The cost for each is $7.50. A total of $18.00 for all fees. The deadline for reservation on meals is May 1, 2005. Contact Johnita Stalcup by phone (620-582-2859), mail (P.O. Box 462, Coldwater, Ks 67029). or e-mail (

Kestrel,  Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by Kyle Gerstner, copyright Kyle Gerstner 2004.

All rights reserved. Used with his permission.
Kestrel, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo by Kyle Gerstner ,
Copyright © 2004, Kyle Gerstner. Used with his permission.

Painted Redstart at Lake Coldwater,  Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by Kevin Groeneweg, copyright Kevin Groeneweg 2003.

All rights reserved. Used with his permission.
Painted Redstart at Lake Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo by Kevin Groeneweg ,
Copyright © 2003, Kevin Groeneweg. Used with his permission.

Lake Coldwater, USGS aerial photograph, 1 April 1996.

CLICK HERE to see the full image. Lake Coldwater, aerial view on April 1, 1996.
Source: USGS

"This Painted Redstart is the bird that "made the news" with its appearance at Lake Coldwater 2 years ago. Some birders from Oklahoma were the first to spot and identify it. It caused a flurry of birders to the Lake to get a look at it and an opportunity to hear it. It wasn't supposed to be found there! It has put Lake Coldwater on the map as a 'birding destination'. Kevin Groeneweg has graciously given his permission for it to be used on this web site."
-- Phyllis Scherich, from an email to Jerry Ferrin, 24 April 2005.

Kansas Ornithological Society

Field Checklists and Online Birding Resources for Kansas

Field checklists for ALL Kansas counties [including Comanche and Barber] are available on the Kansas Ornithological Society website. Each checklist includes ONLY the species that have been confirmed in each county.

Field Checklist: All Kansas Counties

Field Checklist: Comanche County, Kansas   (Pdf file)

Field Checklist: Barber County, Kansas   (Pdf file)

These lists were compiled and are regularly updated by Chuck Otte of Junction City and can be accessed from the main Kansas Ornithological Society website.

You can follow online conversations about birding in Kansas at the following site:

-- Scott Seltman, Nekoma, KS 67559, in an email to Phyllis Scherich & Jerry Ferrin, 24 April 2005.

Also see:

Comanche County Nature Tour - Saturday, May 19th & 20th, 2007 - Comanche County, Kansas

Wildflowers of Comanche County, photos by Phyllis Scherich and Bobbi Huck.

Evansville: Headquarters of the Comanche Pool, by Phyllis Scherich.

History of the Comanche Pool, by Mary Einsel.

This RootsWeb website is being created by HTML Guy Jerry Ferrin with the able assistance of many Contributors. Your comments, suggestions and contributions of historical information and photographs to this site are welcome. Please sign the Guest Book. This page was last updated 24 April 2005.