Snows in the Snow

It was cold and snowy at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area this morning; the air temperature was 20 degrees F.  Canada geese and mallards dominated the scene, their massive flocks swirling above the Missouri River floodplain.

Northern pintails, canvasbacks, American coot, ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, lesser scaup and mergansers (common, red-breasted and hooded) were also observed on the open pools and stoic great blue herons, dusted with snow, stalked the shallows.  Raptors included a half-dozen bald eagles, American kestrels and a fair number of northern harriers.

But the highlight of my visit was a huge, restless flock of snow geese (500 or more), accompanied by at least 200 greater white-fronted geese.  Having set down in a field along the eastern edge of the refuge, the vocal migrants would intermittently rise into the air, oblivious of the steady snow, before settling back in the corn stubble.  On their way to the Arctic, they'll likely rest and feed on the floodplain until the storm moves east; their presence on this wintry March morning made my visit especially rewarding.