By Eric Fowler
I love it when a plan comes together. And I hate it when it doesn’t. Last week, it didn’t.
I wanted to get some up-close-and-personal photos of ducks using the wetlands the Commission and the Corps of Engineers built on the flood plain at Langdon Bend WMA on the Missouri River near Brownville. And there were plenty of them using them … mallards by the thousands, along with plenty of pintails and a few teal, white-fronted geese and Canadas. On a quick scouting hike Wednesday, I found them packed so tightly into one end of the wetland that adding more ducks would’ve required them to stand on each others’ backs.
So I flushed them and plopped my blind down in the mud, figuring that they liked that spot so much that they would certainly return. They didn’t. They kept coming close, but never as close as I’d hoped.
I did get quite a show, though. Massive flocks of snow geese were flying every which way Thursday morning, but most were headed west. The pintail courtship flights were entertaining as usual, even though they didn’t buzz me on the deck. And I could listen to the cackle of whitefronts all day.
But the best show was the immature bald eagle that tried to pick up one of the duck decoys I’d thrown out in front of the blind. I didn’t see it happen. As is often the case when I show up an hour before “shooting” light, I was dozing. But the sound of the talons hitting plastic was like a gunshot, jolting me from my slumber. I barely caught a glimpse of the eagle before he flew into my blind’s blind spot. At least I think it was an eagle. It could have been a hawk or some other raptor. But I’m guessing it was an immature bald only because later Thursday morning, I was blessed to watch one repeatedly buzz the rafts of ducks on the other end of the slough. I wonder if it was really trying to catch a duck or if he was just toying with them. It sure seemed like he could’ve if he wanted to.
I would’ve paid money to be closer to that action, as my 500 mm lens still only provided a wide-angle view. But it was still fun to watch. So fun that I didn’t really mind that when the eagle gave up and lit on the bank, about 90 percent of the ducks that were there had left. With water standing in most of the wetland cells on the area, they didn’t have to come back to my puddle, which is good for the ducks, bad for me.
Oh well, there’s always next week.
And at least something liked my decoys.
See you out there.