Cooke Dam Area, IO
First, a note of warning! This location is technically Dow Property so DO NOT proceed south of the intersection of Washington & Discovery Way. I drove parallel to and within thirty meters of these birds and was detained by two Dow Security Guards and a Midland Police officer for twenty minutes as they ran a security check, confiscated my camera to be sure I didn't take pictures of buildings, and then told me to leave. You can observe the geese and the narrow strip of grass by remaining on Discovery Way just east of Washington.
Now for the description....Two weeks ago I was drawn to this location as there were numerous robins and snow buntings on a narrow strip of exposed grass that I'm presuming was that way due to underground warm pipes of some kind. I pulled up today and was surprised to find fourteen Snow Geese types. Upon closer observation, I noted at least two of them being Ross' Geese. One was resting right in front of a Snow Goose and was noticeably smaller. Both ROGO were white with black primary ends that were visible in both the resting birds and the one that was feeding. Bill shape was noted to be stubby without a grinning patch and the base was perpendicular without any curved look. Their heads were also nicely rounded. I was then approached by the police and didn't get a chance for further study but I did get photos and will share them later.
The GPS coordinates are
43°36'32.4"N 84°13'01.6"W43.609006, -84.217105
Week 2 of the 2014 IWMMP survey at the refuge and still NO Canada Geese, Mallards, or any other waterbirds aside from that misguided flyover Sandhill Crane from the previous week's survey. Temp briefly climbed up to 10F at 1:00 P.M. then dipped down to 6F at 3:00. I did observe the Wildlife Drive Bald Eagle nest for over an hour and a half. Specific nesting activity indicated that they already have incubating eggs!
After years of not getting many (if at all) American Goldfinch coming to my feeders, this winter has more than made up for it. The combination of a harsh winter plus my adding a sunflower heart feeder has slowly bolstered their numbers until they've reached my yard list all-time peak count today.
Ed Cole was also at the VanEttan Dam location
This winter has been one for the record books for the amount of snow and bitter cold temperatures. It was reflected with the number of waterbirds (ONE!) that I heard/observed in the first Integrated Waterbird Mgt & Monitoring (IWMMP) of 2014. A lone Sandhill Crane flew in a westerly direction over Shiawassee River then veered south until I could no longer see it.
As noted, there were no Canada Geese, Mallards, or any other waterbird observed from 11:00 A.M. until after sunset. Putting this in perspective, Steve Kahl observed 13,410 Canada Geese on 02/13/13. Looking back on previous seasonal surveys, Canada Geese are generally observed at the refuge in good numbers in February. Not surprisingly, I did read that the last memorably cold and snowy winter of 1994 held only 4 Canada Geese at the refuge on Jan 21st.