When I arrived at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area this morning, a gray overcast stretched above the Missouri River floodplain and the air was pleasantly mild. A flock of blue grosbeaks fed along the entry road and, farther along, a small bevy of bobwhites darted across my path. Mourning doves, indigo buntings, dickcissels and red-winged blackbirds were abundant in the roadside fields and I anticipated a very productive morning at the refuge.
Then, halfway into the preserve, I turned eastward and was treated to a spectacular but threatening view to the north. A massive shelf cloud stretched across the Missouri Valley and the riverside hills were rapidly disappearing behind the gathering gloom. Within fifteen minutes, I was enveloped in the storm with its frequent lightning and torrential rain.
Faced with other commitments later in the morning, I accepted nature's not-so-subtle hint and left the refuge, catching glimpses of stoic, rain-soaked herons along the way. I'll be back later in the week.