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Today my birder crew spent the afternoon at Grand Pass Conservation Area.
This was our first visit to the area, so we aren't as familiar with what a
locally “normal” count looks like, and we aren't used to quite this many
Mallards and Snow Geese. So I apologize if this isn't a very noteworthy
report. Also, you should also take my estimates with a grain of salt (like
I said, I've never had to count this many birds before). I don't want to
publish any potentially misleading data on eBird, but I prefer to attempt
estimation as opposed to saying I saw 'X' number of birds.

There were certainly several thousand Mallards, more than I’ve ever seen.
Congregating among them were more than a hundred Northern Pintails, and
smaller numbers of eight(?) other species, including one Wood Duck. The
star of the waterfowl was perhaps a bizarre “blonde” Mallard. We are still
trying to see if we can figure out to what extent its appearance is caused
by a color mutation. It has been suggested that this duck might be half
domestic. There was an American Tree Sparrow that also confused us with its
appearance—he appeared to have a large black spot on his side, but other
online birders proposed that it was probably just a ruffled feather patch.

I belive we saw at least half a hundred Bald Eagles. They were found all
across the conservation area, perhaps slightly more widespread on the
eastern side where we saw a couple of them terrorizing the main Snow Goose
gaggle.

When we arrived and saw the first large duck flocks, a few thousand Snow
Geese started to cover the sky in countless “skeins” (I learned that word
today). During our last hour there, we walked from the gravel road to down
by Lake Teteseau to see the real deal. All I can say is that there were
tens of thousands. There may have been hundreds of thousands for all I
know. My eBird count is 100,000. That might be too liberal. Or pretty
conservative. I mean, who even knows what 100,000 of something is supposed
to look like? I can't make up my mind. I wanna know what other visitors
from today guessed. Estimating the geese is overwhelming, but watching
thousands of them take off as a roaring cloud of white specks was a
stunning and memorable experience. After approaching them, I wondered if we
got to close. I don't want to cause any significant disturbance, so if
anyone has some advice regarding how to be respectful of the birds, please
let me know.

The cherry on top was Sandhill Cranes flying over us as we walked back to
our vehicle. I heard the familiar rattling call behind me, and I turned my
head to see four cranes north towards the geese. We were glad that we got
to see some before we left.

I have great first impressions about this place. Thanks to everyone keeping
me updated on Missourian bird news. And sorry for the long message.

eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S53268805

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