Snow geese, Canada geese and mallard ducks are just now arriving in strong numbers in the northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri area, according to the latest numbers from the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Mound City, Mo.
The refuge also was providing sanctuary for 11 bald eagles, 265 trumpeter swans and an array of other duck species at last count— including redhead, ring-necks, scaup, mergansers, ruddy ducks and American coots.
It sits about 5 miles northeast of the intersection of the Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri borders, due east from Big Lake. Several more conservation areas surround Squaw Creek, including Brown Conservation Area along the Missouri River on the Kansas border, Riverbreaks Conservation Area along Holt 320 Road, Monkey Mountain Conservation Area and Honey Creek Conservation Area to the northeast and Nodaway Valley Conservation Area to the east.
The refuge is a sight to see, and if you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend it. You can find also sorts of wildlife in the waters and the surrounding land. A total 7,350 total acres make up the wildlife area, with an estimated 3,300 acres of flooded wetlands. You can often find huge groups of snow geese floating in the middle of the lake before the sun rises.
My favorite memory of Squaw Creek was a trip I took up with my grandfather one weekend in 2008 during goose season to do some spotting.
We drove up in the middle of the day, stopping at the always-delicious Dairy Queen for lunch and some ice cream beforehand. I took my camera along to get pictures of birds, and I wasn’t disappointed. Not long after we got there, we spotted a huge group of snow geese sitting in the middle of the lake. We got out our binoculars and tried to count them all, but eventually we decided it was an impossible task and kept on driving. Soon we spotted a virtual oasis of waterfowl, with all sorts of ducks huddled together and climbing onto submerged tree limbs sticking out of the water.
A group of snows and blues walked right past our car as we continued, and then we spotted a giant muskrat swimming along near a group of ducks and causing quite a commotion. We spent hours just watching birds fly in. As we left, listening to a Washburn women’s basketball game on the radio, we spotted several deer roaming around in the nearby woods. I hurried to snap a few photos, but soon they ran off in the opposite direction.
As we left, the sun sat over the lake, basking us in a warm, orange glow. It was quite the sight to behold.
According to the Missouri Division of Tourism, the area houses 301 bird species, 33 mammal species and 35 reptiles and amphibians. It attracts asmany as 400,000 snow geese and 100,000 ducks during the fall migration period. There is a 10-mile, self-guided driving tour that takes youthrough forest, grassland, cropland and wetlands. Deer roam the area and can be easily spotted around dusk.
The wildlife refuge is about 102 miles away from Topeka, a drive of about two-and-a-half hours. A gift shop, biking and walking trails, backpackingtrails and camping grounds are all nearby. The refuge remains open daily from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset and is free to visit.
The refuge was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for migratory birds and other wildlife.
SOURCE: MISSOURI DIVISION OF TOURISM