Waiting for Snows

After spotting a flock of snow geese over central Kansas yesterday, I was eager to visit Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area this morning. That fabulous wetland preserve, stretching along the Missouri River, southwest of Columbia, is a staging area for migrant waterfowl and generally hosts huge flocks of snow geese from late February into March.

On arrival, conditions appeared to be ideal. The flooded landscape offered plenty of feeding areas for waterfowl and migrant ducks were plentiful, including mallards, gadwall, shovelors and squadrons of teal. A strong south wind, offering a distinct advantage to migrant geese, was also promising, and thousands of ring billed gulls swirled about the refuge, indicating that migration season was indeed underway. As bald eagles flapped and soared above the wetlands, scattering the ducks and gulls, a chorus of familiar sounds echoed across the floodplain; the latter included the distinctive call of red-winged blackbirds, the distant clamour of Canada geese, the chatter of belted kingfishers, the cries of the numerous gulls and the varied chortles of restless ducks. Unfortunately, not a single snow goose graced the scene.

Though I hung around for an extra hour, peering toward the southern horizon, my favorite birds did not appear. But, in the coming weeks, I will hear them in the night sky, watch their northward journey as I walk to and from work and return to Eagle Bluffs to draw inspiration from those vocal and inspiring wanderers.