Since over a week now I’m reading in the Iowa bird forum that the geese are on the move. People report hundred-thousands of Snow, Ross, and Greater White-fronted Geese flying over or resting in marshes and wetlands here in Iowa. I saw photos and videos and the number of birds are just stunning. Yesterday I finally saw for the first time a flock of Snow Geese flying over our house and later in the evening Joan and I heard Greater White-fronted Geese in the sky. Their calls are different from the Canada Geese that we have here in the valley all year long.
For several reasons I haven’t been able to go out and watch the migration of the geese to the arctic and I got really antsy about it. Today I had enough and left my office a little earlier than I’m supposed to and drove down south to the Green Island Wetlands.
What a change since the last time I was there on February 18th! The snow is gone completely and probably 80% of the water is open and without ice cover. I saw thousands of Mallards and among them a few Northern Pintails. Too far away for a good photo. A dozen Trumpeter Swans were feeding or rested on the remaining ice. Three Sandhill Cranes took off just in front of me and suddenly I heard the sound of the Red-winged Blackbirds and saw them taking possession of their breeding grounds again. These are all sure signs that the worst part of winter lies behind us.
However, I didn’t see a single Snow Goose. But I met Forest, a nice gentleman who works for the Iowa DNR (Department of Natural Resources), and he gave me a hint where he had seen the Greater White-fronted Geese fly in around sunset during the last few days. And this was exactly what happened. Large numbers of geese flew in and searched for a good place to rest. Forest told me he works in the wetlands and spends a lot of time out there but still likes to watch the migrating birds after his work is done. I call this real passion and I’m always thankful for people like him, who share their encounters and knowledge with others.