As night-time low temperatures have reached into the 20s here in the Bismarck-Mandan area, small ponds have been observed with a slight skim of ice, a light jacket is needed to stay comfortable, and an ice scraper is needed on our vehicles windows.
The changing of seasons is most definitely underway.
With the changing of seasons, we know white stuff (my wife tells me I can't say that word yet) will eventually cover our ground in the months to come. Right now, we have magnificent “white stuff” flying over.
Snow geese and their smaller cousins, Ross' geese, are ever-present in our great state. Tundra swans also are scattered throughout the fly-ways in North Dakota.
Snow and Ross' geese have been spotted in North Dakota for more than a month, though the largest concentrations have been observed this past week.
Many snow geese arrived in North Dakota in the general northwest corner of the state and have since spread out to the east. This past weekend, snow geese numbers, approaching flock sizes of several hundred thousands, have been spotted from Alkabo to Max and Lake Audubon, southeast to Wing, Tuttle and Steele and have been reported as far south as east-central South Dakota.
Snow and Ross' geese have been observed both in the air and on the ground in the center of large wetlands and feeding in large numbers in harvested agricultural fields.
These beautiful white birds never get old to look at, with just the sheer number of birds in flocks being incredibly high and just viewing the bright white feathers they have.
Blue phase snow geese having the darker blue-gray feathers on their bodies with the white heads also are an incredible sight.
Tundra swans have been scattered throughout the prairie pothole region of the state. These large white birds are magnificently white and stand out quite easily on nearby wetlands.
If you're a bird guru, a photographer, a hunter, or interested at all in wildlife, now is the time to get outdoors, grab the binoculars, a spotting scope if you have one, your camera, a friend, and the kids and head east a bit.
Cruise the back-country roads and keep your eyes and ears open to spot the snow and Ross' geese, greater white-fronted geese, and tundra swans that keep our skies and fields a great white.
(Dan Ackerman is wildlife biologist from Mandan.)