This is my first KOS Spring Meeting.
What do I need to know?
If this is your first KOS Spring meeting, don't worry! We've all been there before. Here's what you need to know.
There will be birders at the spring meeting with all experience and skill levels. If you are new to birding don't hesitate to attend. There's no better place to learn than with a bunch of other birders at a Spring KOS Meeting! Don't hesitate to say that you are new to birding. There'll be other birders that are happy to "take you under their wing". If you are having problems seeing the bird, just say, "I don't see it." You'll have lots of help locating that tiny little warbler in all those leaves. Birding is something we are all constantly learning. Sights, sounds, habitats, even specific plants that some birds prefer. These are all things that you can learn at a spring meeting. Spring meetings move around the state from year to year which also gives you a chance to bird in new parts of the state, and see different birds. Kansas is a big state and from east to central to western Kansas, there is a noticeable shift in bird species. Your head will be spinning with information after your first spring meeting, but you will have learned so much!
Friday: Many participants leave home early so they can bird along the way. We normally have an informal registration and hospitality at the headquarters hotel for a couple of hours on Friday evening. Check the web page for updated information. Since many participants are regular attendees, it's sort of like a family reunion. But just start circulating and introduce yourself. There may be sign up sheets for Saturday field trips. Feel free to sign up but know that you aren't obligated and can make a last minute switch on Saturday morning.
Saturday: We normally gather at the headquarters hotel parking lot around sunup (often 6:30) so participants can team up with their field trip leader. If the hotel doesn't offer a breakfast buffet then fast food or local restaurants that open early may be recommended to you. We try to car pool as much as possible but feel free to drive yourself. For first timers that may not be used to a full day of birding, it may be inviting to head back to your hotel mid afternoon for a nap with your head reeling and your ears full of bird song. This is normal!! Bring along some snacks and water. Field Trip leaders will try to find convenience stores or state parks for regular snack and restroom breaks. A lunch break will be determined, often at a local eatery. Feel free to bring your lunch if you so desire. By late afternoon, if you're still with the group and not back at the hotel napping, the field trip leader will head back to the starting location so you can have a break before most of the group gathers for a Dutch treat evening meal. Ask around at dinner as some folks will head back out to try to find owls and nightjars!
Sunday: The morning will pretty much start the same as on Saturday. Field trips will not be nearly as far ranging as we will gather as a group at noon for sandwiches and the traditional compilation where everyone sits around and sounds off on the bird species seen during the weekend. Check the registration form for a place to indicate that you want a sandwich for the Sunday lunch. Or stop by a local fast food establishment and grab what you want on the way to the compilation. Once the compilation is over everyone slowly departs to head home, often on a rather circuitous Birder's Direct Route!
Some people will just come for Saturday and head home Saturday evening or first thing Sunday morning. Some attendees will bird a while on Sunday morning before heading out. This is common and certainly permissible.
Field trips are held in virtually all kinds of weather although we do discourage birding if there is a lot of lightning around, simply for personal safety. Heavy rain has been known to drive folks inside while the weather clears. But light rain, fog or wind usually doesn't stop us!
There are usually large copies of the county checklists, for the counties we are visiting available on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday compilation. Attendees are encouraged to mark what species were seen in what counties so that a county by county detailed list for the Friday noon to Sunday noon birding period can be compiled as well!
Your first spring meeting may seem overwhelming. Just dive in, don't be shy, introduce yourself and have fun. We're all at the meeting to go birding, have fun and interact with other folks that understand your passion for birding.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Chuck Otte or any other of the KOS Board Members.
Written by Chuck Otte, March 2019