A Peaceful Morning at Eagle Bluffs

A gray overcast stretched above the Missouri River floodplain yesterday morning and seemed to induce a peaceful calm at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.  The still waters of the lakes and pools were broken only by the heads of aquatic turtles and the surfacing of double crested cormorants; great blue herons stood like sentries along the marshy shores or atop the wood duck boxes while a trio of American white pelicans lounged on a sandbar.

The silhouettes of bald eagles, turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks graced the woodlands, flocks of mourning doves and red-winged blackbirds foraged along the roadways and a few green herons stalked the flooded timber where belted kingfishers awaited a higher sun.  White-tailed deer and eastern cottontails were abundant and conspicuous in the filtered morning light.

Some human visitors might describe the scene as dull, especially in comparison with the vibrant activity at Eagle Bluffs during the spring and fall migrations.  But, amidst the relative calm, a remarkable diversity of life goes unnoticed by the casual visitor; a bit of patience brings some of those residents into view, including the indigo buntings, dickcissels, common yellowthroats, prothonotary warblers and yellow-billed cuckoos that I observed yesterday morning.