From Dictionary.com – surreal – “
And that is the only way I can describe the scene when 100,000+ SNOW GEESE are flying overhead honking. And that doesn’t do it justice. You must see it yourself to really comprehend the scene.
And this was the way it went all morning when I accompanied Don Gorney last Saturday on my first trip to Gibson County. While looking for other various specialties there was always the awareness of the Snow Geese flying in the distance.
I hadn’t seen this many Snow Geese since I went on chase #3 for a Little Gull at Carlyle Lake in Southern Illinois. That day there was the same constant swirling of Snow Geese until they settled on the lake. It is too bad that there isn’t access to Gibson Lake so we could see the vast amount of waterfowl that must be present.
And Snow Geese weren’t the only birds in large flocks. Though I didn’t get a picture (how can you get one that does the scene justice?) on the day we saw huge flocks of blackbirds – mainly COMMON GRACKLES. It would probably take someone with a video camera to record the long line of blackbirds and then try to get a count. I swear one of the flocks was a couple of miles long.
Early in the day we stopped by the town of Francisco to see if there were EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES next to the grain elevator like every small town. And of course there were.
On the day we saw several impressive birds starting with the lingering GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE. Don had already spent time with it in December and I had spent considerable time with them last summer in Colorado, so we didn’t linger at the sight.
Hoping for waterfowl we moved on to Tern Bar Slough. There was little variety and numbers are still low. Hopefully the current cold snap will send some south. Moving on we encountered both endangered RUSTY BLACKBIRDS and RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS in the same woods. Which was good to see.
We then spent a considerable amount of time watching the Snow Geese while Don picked a few ROSS’S GEESE out of the swirling flock. A few groups of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE also flew by at a higher elevation.
In the afternoon we headed to Somerville Mine in the eastern part of the county to search for raptors. They were numerous with many RED-TAILED HAWKS, NORTHERN HARRIERS, and more limited numbers of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and AMERICAN KESTRELS.
We also went into Warrick County in search of Northern Shrikes and MERLINS. We missed on the Shrikes but found a few Merlins.
We extended the day a little and went back to Somerville Mine area to catch the initial flights of SHORT-EARED OWLS at dusk.
From my first trip to the area I can see why Gibson County always does well on counts. The varied habitat is great for a wide variety of species.