Migration Uptick at Eagle Bluffs

On this cool, sunny morning, the teal hunters had left Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and so had the blue-winged teal.  On the other hand, a large flock of American white pelicans (175 by my count) had stopped by to rest and feed in the Missouri Valley, joined by the first flocks of American coot, a dozen or so cormorants and a fair number of pied-billed grebes.  Great egrets, seemingly spooked away by the hunters, have returned in large numbers, soon to head for southern climes.

Having passed the fall equinox and on the doorstep of October, we can expect an increasing number and diversity of migrant waterfowl through November.  Though global warming seems to have slowed the parade in recent years, birders and hunters hope for a good turnout by late autumn, perhaps including rare vagrants that often mingle with the common species.

Also anticipating those travelers are avian predators.  Four immature bald eagles surveyed the refuge this morning and a lone peregrine falcon streaked above the floodplain.  Following a lackluster shorebird season (primarily due to high water levels), they, like us, are counting on a large number of migrant waterfowl at Eagle Bluffs.  It appears that we're off to a good start!