Well, with lots of optimism Laura Pintel and I headed to Eagle Bluffs this morning around 8:15.  You know, when you get a day off, you can't let the dreary windy weather get you down.  When we got to Eagle Bluffs we were greeted by the Asplundi trucks on Star School Road cutting down the 2 large trees that had been horribly trimmed down the middle to clear the power lines.  I guess the powers that be decided to take them all the way down to stumps.  We were sad because we associate them with seeing the scissortail flycatcher last summer.  

The Henbit was blooming as we headed into Eagle Bluffs.  We saw 2 mature Bald Eagles as we turned onto Star School Rd.  They were flying very low over the fields.  As we started down the main road we saw quite a few Red-Winged Blackbirds sitting in the trees and a Great Horned Owl by the pumphouse, so we followed him down that road.  He flew into the woods by the river.  As we were hunting for him, we had a flock of pelicans fly over our car.  The winds were quite high and gusty and it was dark and gloomy.  We drove on down the road and just on the west side of the distribution channel we saw 3 gray Sandhill Cranes.  It was clear to us that they weren't "our" cranes.  We watched from a distance as they did some beautiful displays of jumping and flapping.  It only lasted a few moments.  Then as we drove down the road, they flew over the road and landed on the distribution channel side on the edge of the water (far side from the road).  We watched them feed for several minutes before we pushed on.  

There was a large mixed flock of Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese.  They startled and flew up just as a ray of sunshine broke through.  Really quite stunning with the sun on them.  They settled back down and we ventured on.  In the meantime, we had several flyovers of eagles and pelicans.  We were quite amazed it was so birdy because the winds had not died down. As we drove down the main road past the dist. channel and pools 6 and 7 we were treated to a large flock of Ring-necked Ducks (est. 15-18 birds) some Scaups and a single Red-headed duck.    All along there were hundreds of mallards and many coots.  We also saw 2 Wilson's Snipes along pool 10.    

As we turned down the one way road we saw 1 Great Blue Heron, 1 Pied-Billed Grebe, Many Northern Shovelers, some Gadwalls  and a handful of Northern Pintails.  We headed down the one way loop to the very back at Pool 14, there was a large of flock of Pelicans on the sandbar out in the center.  There were probably 150-200 birds out there huddled together with 2 eagles on the ground with them, 1 juvenile and 1 adult.  The eagles flew to the far side of the flock and the pelicans startled and flew up but then immediately settled back down.  The sun had peeked out and it was a lovely show.  We got a few good photos.  

All in all we probably saw 8-10 Adult eagles, which is a pretty high number for us this winter.  There were approx. 75 Ring Billed Gulls on the one way loop.  

On our way out of the area we were hoping to see the 3 gray Sandhills again, and were thrilled to find them in the same location having been joined by the 3 rusty-colored Sandhills.  So we watched the 6 feed together and dreamed about more of them staying here all year.  

We drove down the side road to Pool 3 and in the furthest reach of that road we saw 20 or so mallards, 10 or so Pintails, and approx. 30 Green-winged Teals.  There were 8 TVs down on the sandbar eating dead fish, 2 Killdeer darting around and a Red-Tailed Hawk flew over.  Another hawk was circling but we couldn't be certain what it was.  As we headed out onto the main road a Eastern Bluebird was sitting in the tree on the main road.

We headed out just as the Asplundi trucks were finishing their job certain we had had a far lovelier morning than those men out in the cherry pickers in the bitter wind.  

Lottie Bushmann
Columbia, MO
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