Hooting at the Thunder

When I arrived at Eagle Bluffs this morning, the Missouri River floodplain was shrouded by a dense overcast; showers moved across the valley and lightning flashed to the southwest.  A striped skunk ambled along the entry road, not yet finished with his nocturnal hunting, and turkey vultures huddled on a power-line tower, waiting for the sun.

The recent flocks of American white pelicans had departed for the south, leaving the fish for cormorants, great egrets, bald eagles, belted kingfishers and great blue herons.  Blue-winged teal graced a few of the ponds and an increasing number of American coot foraged in the marshy shallows.  Bird sightings were otherwise limited though one raptor was heard rather than seen.

At the south tip of the refuge, where Perche Creek enters the Missouri River, the hoots of a great horned owl echoed from the woodlands, seemingly in response to claps of thunder that rumbled through the valley.  Seldom heard during the warmer months, great horned owls are now tuning up for their breeding season, which won't commence until winter grips the Heartland.