Monday, November 26, 2018

After the Blizzard

We in Columbia, Missouri, were on the south side of a potent winter storm that raced across the northern Midwest last evening.  Though we only received about three inches of snow, the high winds plastered everything outdoors with snow and ice.  So what to do on the morning after?  Head down to Eagle Bluffs, of course, to see what the storm blew in.

Nearly alone on the floodplain, I drove slowly through the wintry landscape, stopping at favored viewing points along the way; since most of the refuge is still closed for the duck hunters, I completed my route in less than an hour.  A squadron of trumpeter swans arrived from the north, as did wavering v's of snow geese and greater white-fronted geese.  Large flocks of mallards, gadwall and coot dominated the scene, joined by smaller groups of green-winged teal and a few northern shovelers.  While I expected to encounter a large number of raptors on this cold, cloudy morning, a pair of bald eagles and a lone kestrel were the only avian hunters.  Perhaps the highlight of my visit was a large, restless convention of horned larks, fluttering about an ice-crusted field.

Our sudden blast of winter is expected to abate over the next few days and we'll return to more "seasonal" conditions.  The residents of Eagle Bluffs will likely appreciate a milder respite but they are equipped to deal with any challenges that nature throws their way; they need only worry about natural predators and the threats imposed by human society.