When I go birding, I typically walk or drive slowly, stopping frequently to allow the birds to adjust to my presence. When one takes along a grandson, however, the pace must be quicker, lest boredom overtake enthusiasm. And when your "check engine" light comes on, one is not inclined to dally.
For both of those reasons, my visit to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area was rather brief this morning and I covered the 12-mile, roundtrip drive in record time. Nevertheless, we encountered an excellent variety of waterfowl and raptors on this cool, cloudy morning, including five bald eagles, a northern harrier, a Cooper's hawk, a kestrel and a red-tailed hawk. A large flock of American white pelicans graced the floodplain refuge and, among the waterfowl, blue-winged teal, northern shovelers and American coot were especially abundant. Both greater and lesser yellowlegs foraged on the mudflats while red-winged blackbirds, as usual, dominated the fields and marshes.
While our visit to the fabulous refuge was far too short, the effort is always rewarded, whether by the diversity of its wildlife or the serenity of its landscape. Since I will soon return to Colorado, this brief trip to the Missouri River floodplain will be my last for a while but it, like hundreds of others, will long be remembered.