Spectacles of Early Spring

Arriving at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area this morning, a friend and I encountered six flocks of American white pelicans, totaling at least 250 individuals; they had stopped to rest and feed at this floodplain refuge on their way to breeding grounds across the Northern Plains and Intermountain West.  Indeed, by the time we left the area, two hours later, most of the pelicans had already departed up the Missouri River Valley.

Other sightings at Eagle Bluffs included a half dozen bald eagles (one of which was on the massive nest), a large number of northern shovelers and green-winged teal and an exceptionally large congregation of northern pintails; we also observed American coot, mallards, gadwalls, great blue herons and a lone mink.

Later in the day, my wife and I visited Forum Nature Area, in Columbia.  Though bird sightings were limited at that refuge, were were treated to the din of chorus frogs, awakened from their winter slumber by the recent thaw.  These tiny tree frogs, difficult to observe even at close range, are among the earliest harbingers of spring, often delivering their mating calls while chunks of ice still rim the shallows.