A few harsh days have interrupted a mild winter so far, and ducks are already congregating in the way they usually do a month from now. Dry conditions have something to do with it too, but interestingly, contacts I keep in Missouri and Iowa believe that ducks and geese are already staging there in preparation for an early migration.
A February like last one might drive waterfowl back south, but I’ve seen some high geese flights headed north, and a buildup of ducks on some local marshes that normally come later in these parts. Truth is, lots of geese never made it this far south, attesting to the relatively mild weather. Further evidence is a fairly large flock of sandhill cranes and even three whooping cranes that continue to tough it out around the Quivira and Cheyenne Bottoms areas without reaching for their normal Gulf wintering quarters. Eagle numbers in Kansas are also lower than average, suggesting that they’re with waterfowl farther north.
Time will tell, but it’s not too early to pull out the cameras and go fowling. This is probably one of those years that, if you wait until normal migration times, you’ll miss the best of it.