A little too much nature has arrived at the Kansas Wetlands Center.
When WenDee LaPlant tried calling the Kansas Wetlands Education Center near Great Bend this week, she couldn't.
Each time, the phone call to Curtis Wolf, the center's site manager, would abruptly end.
And, when LaPlant, the assistant director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation near Inman, finally did reach a human voice, the phone call ended just as mysteriously as all the others.
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Those things happen fairly frequently now with fall migration in full swing, Wolf explained.
It seems some of the wireless phone calls and e-mails at the center are being blocked by a red-tailed hawk perching on a communications tower at Barton Community College, located on a hill in a field six miles from the center.
So what's a nature center to do?
Live with it.
Carry on a phone conversation with Wolf and chances are that you, too, might hear clicks off and on.
It may be the hawk, stirring a bit on the tower, he explains.
"We have had issues of it perching on the communications tower and that shorts the beam out," he said. "This time of the year, in the fall, there seems to be a lot of hawk activity and perching. It usually comes and it goes."
Red-tailed hawks are the most common hawks seen in central Kansas. All hawks are protected, Wolf said.
And it is not like it is a frequent problem. Usually the service is out momentarily.
The $4.2 million, 11,246-square-foot wetlands education center opened officially in April 2005.
No land lines were laid to the center, in part because of the cost, Wolf said. The most the e-mail and cell phone service at the center has been out is about an hour or two at a time.
"It can sometimes be frustrating to have business to conduct and not be able to use the phone," he said. "But the main thing is when visitors call to get information and wonder what is going on."
So, here's fair notice. If at first you don't succeed at calling the Kansas Wetlands Center, try back in a few moments.
"I just burst out laughing, it is so funny," LaPlant said. "The last thing you would expect is a nature versus technology thing. But it is so typical of Kansas and the things that can happen here."