Summer Mode at Eagle Bluffs

After months of hosting frenzied migrants, beginning with snow geese in February and ending with various songbirds and shorebirds in early May, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area has entered its summer mode.  On my visit this morning, even the Canada geese and red-winged blackbirds were relatively calm and quiet.

The goose parents proudly escorted their offspring along the grassy lake shores and mother wood ducks ushered their broods across secluded, marsh-lined coves.  Numerous great blue herons stalked the shallows, while, out on the calm pools and channels, there were more water snakes than waterfowl.  Belted kingfishers, a few great egrets, killdeer and spotted sandpipers were the only other aquatic birds to make an appearance.  Though woodland songbirds were diverse, they had abandoned the feverish activity of the past few weeks and turkey vultures, awaiting the late morning thermals, lounged on the graveled levees.

As I left that Missouri floodplain refuge, the call of a northern bobwhite rang from the riverside woodlands, a nostalgic sound from the summers of my youth and one that I seldom encounter these days.  Of course, I moved away from their primary range many years ago but, even within that range, their population has dropped dramatically; suburban sprawl and agriculture are primarily responsible for that decline, having destroyed and degraded much of their natural habitat.  Its call today was thus both a pleasant surprise and confirmation that the lazy, hazy days of summer have begun.