Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Under Snowless Skies

Returning to Missouri today, we traveled across the Great Plains under sunny skies and enveloped in mild air.  Snow cover gradually diminished as we drove eastward and a south wind had placed the wind turbines in a steady spin.  Rough-legged hawks and northern harriers patrolled the High Plains of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, gradually replaced by American kestrels and red-tailed hawks as we moved toward Missouri.  A small flock of American white pelicans graced a lake near Lawrence, Kansas, while several flocks of wild turkeys scoured fields farther east.

But I was looking for migrant flocks of snow geese that begin their northward journey by mid February; having wintered in the lower Mississippi Valley, in Gulf Coast marshes and on croplands across the Southern Plains, they head toward Arctic breeding grounds before spring unfolds in the Heartland.  Scanning the clear blue skies, I observed only scattered flocks of Canada geese, moving about the farmlands.

Since I'll be in Central Missouri for the next two weeks, I'm confident that the stirring sight and sound of migrating snow geese lies in my near future; then again, nature offers no guarantees.  But I'll do my best to increase my chances; Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, in the Missouri River Valley, and farmlands east of Columbia will be my primary destinations.