Down, Down, Down

Trumpeter Swans – One Is Not Like the Others

Or birds, birds, birds, as in down covered birds. Wednesday was the pick day of the week and taking advantage of February’s meager bounties, we headed up to the Riverlands. Initially, we didn’t see all that many birds, but that all kind of changed when we met this guy. You might call him an uber-birder. After speaking with him for a while, I got the distinct impression that he spent all day, every day at the Riverlands. He did have an impressive list of sightings though. Apparently, far more species than I ever imagined visit the Riverlands. This shouldn’t be all that surprising though since it is at the confluence of the continent’s two greatest flyways. He identified a Greater White-fronted goose when it flew overhead. A first sighting for us. Later we found hundreds floating in one of the ponds. I managed to snap a few before we flushed them all away.

Greater White-fronted Geese

Another first for us was the pictured Snow goose, one of a pair that we saw. Both of these two more exotic types of geese were hanging with the more ubiquitous Canada goose. The Snow goose looks very similar to the Ross’s goose, but I was able to convince myself of its identity. These two rarities are supposed to frequently hangout together, reminding me of the old saying, birds of a feather flock together. We also saw a couple of Kestrels, a few Bald eagles, White pelicans and gulls, hundreds of gulls. The gulls were roosting on the slough’s thin ice and as the day warmed and the ice melted, they kept moving closer and closer to shore. There was enough wind to make ripples on the water. These ripples caused the ice to make a twittering sound. At first, I thought that the noise was from little birds hiding in the brush, until I figured it out. Speaking of bird sounds, the expert birder that we met taught us to identify Goldeneyes by the whistling sound that their wings make, when they are flying.

Snow Goose

I almost forgot to mention the Trumpeter swans, who got lost among all of the newbies. That certainly wouldn’t do, because they are the representative bird for the Riverlands, its main draw. This is peak season at the wildlife preserve, as many more species than normal are transitioning through the area.

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