Joining the Birds and Geese to Migrate South on Adventure #2

We’re on the way to Big Bend and Guadelupe Mountains National Parks, striking out from northern Michigan today (mid-January). The drive has wended its way through freezing rain and long stretches of semi-truck-clogged freeways in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. On the second day, we were greeted by a flock of Canadian geese so vast and innumerable that we could not find the beginning or end of the horde. Also saw a large field entirely filled with snow geese on the way south.

For us who have never made the “snowbird trek” to the southlands in winter, the scene was a bit eerie and a whole lot wonderful. It’s heartening to see large numbers of animals of practically any species, defying the odds of a nature now less likely to be able to support them. Also very cool to be running alongside them on a major flyway. We want to time a future trip to intersect with a major migration stopover spot (North Platte River in western Nebraska, Point Pelee in northern Ohio) so that we can join actual birders observing hundreds of species in one spot.

Stopping for breakfast with cousin Janet near St. Louis. It is always fun to reconnect with family and friends J

Along the southward way we saw a single field 3.8 miles long, awaiting planting. It would take someone working the field 30 minutes to work just ONE row. That is crazy, compared to Michigan’s much-smaller farm fields. In Louisiana and Texas farmers growing corn mound their rows before planting, to preserve moisture. Corn is dry-field farmed down here, because they have enough ground moisture and precipitation to sustain the crop. They also grow rice, which is sometimes planted by crop-planes. Wheat and cotton are also grown in AR, LA and east TX. Most folks are bored out of their gourds seeing farmland in long stretches. Not us, and especially not George, who notices every nuance of difference in technique.

This trip promises to be like no other. We are driving through major metros to get to two of the most isolated, least visited National Parks in the US. Where migratory nature spends her winters. And where (SW TX) precipitation has all but ceased for a long, long while. We will try to tread with extremely light footprints all the way.

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