Thousands of Snow & Ross’s Geese

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I lucked out on finding our local sighting of a rare Northern Lapwing (post here), before he disappeared to hide behind some grass.  But I wasn’t ready to leave, there was so much more bird activity at this pond.  I was content on staying parked for a while to see what else might occur.  All the other cars had left but one.

The pond had quite a variety of birds.

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Canada Geese, Tundra Swans, American Wigeon, American Black Duck,
Mallard, and Northern Pintail are all in the above photo.
(missing species are a few Scaup which were far left of shot, and the
Northern Lapwing with a small flock of Snow Geese behind it in far right of shot.)

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I sat and watched through my binoculars all of these birds foraging and resting peacefully…..life was good for all!

In the far distance I could hear a massive flock of additional Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese coming from a distant lift-off.  They quickly arrived, causing the few Snow Geese already on the ground to take flight with them.

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The beginnings of a massive flock of Snow and Ross’s Geese arriving

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What luck, the massive flock headed towards me!

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The ‘dark’ goose in top left corner is a blue morph Snow Goose, there were many in the flock.

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Fabulous flock fly-by!  The noise was unbelievable, I’ll never forget it.

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The fly-by swung out wider, and they were suddenly over me.

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I shot that last photo straight up and then stopped.  I just stood there and watched as thousands passed.  It was so incredibly breathtaking!

“Where to land??”  That’s what the geese were trying to decide.

They really thought the pond looked inviting, turned again and began descending on it.

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Snow Geese & Ross’ Geese landing on the pond

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Filling up quickly

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Most were landing on the farm land behind the pond.

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Snow Geese landing

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The Canada Geese and ducks weren’t too happy with their pond’s takeover and swam to the far left of the pond to separate.

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Finally, everyone settled in, and it quieted down.  I started trying to relocate the Northern Lapwing on the shoreline among the Snow Geese, that would have been a real cool shot.  No sign though.

Didn’t matter, the quiet did not last long.

Shrieking goose calls suddenly filled the air.  So did goose bodies!

An immature Bald Eagle had appeared, circling overhead, causing a whirlwind tizzy!

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The geese started lifting from the farm land.

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This caused the geese on and near the pond to take off as well.

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The immature Bald Eagle circled around for a couple minutes.  Enjoying it’s power no doubt.

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The geese continued to change course in direction, trying to land elsewhere, anywhere that the Eagle wasn’t going.

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Two-minutes of chaos; and the Eagle finally moved on, with much relief to the thousands of other birds trying to settle back down on the farm.  Whew!  No one became lunch!

An interesting side note on this massive flock.  I discovered zooming in on my photos, there were numerous yellow neck-banded geese in this flock.  I’ve not been able to read any numbers to report, but here’s one of my photos.

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Two yellow neck-banded Snow Geese in this flock

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If you made it this far with this long post, thank you for sticking around for the story and photos!  Here are two bonus snow globe photos for you!

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“Snow Globes”

(Click on each “globe” for better details)

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83 thoughts on “Thousands of Snow & Ross’s Geese

  1. those yellow neck bands are for tracking reasons Donna. Zoom in and try to get the letter/number! Very important the researches get this data. Somebody is doing a migratory study.
    Lucky you! Right place, right time! You can’t teach that.
    If you had a drone,you could watch how everything in front of the eagle fly away from it!
    To get really close shots you could put on a dry suit and swim over with a camouflaged float!

    • Wayne, I do know those neck bands are for tracking. I’ve already spent over an hour zooming in on my photos trying to read any if just one, you gotta remember I was shooting from afar, too far this time. I have reported bands in the past on other birds, I have certificates. πŸ™‚ It was an awesome RPRT moment! I was glad I stayed for a while, luck was indeed on my side!

  2. Great captures, Donna. I had the spine procedure today at noon. I will be resting for a couple of days,. I’m starting to get better and feeling less pain. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, HJ! So glad to hear from you and that you’re already having some success with less pain! Get that much needed rest, you’ll be back to your young self before you know it. πŸ™‚

  3. Oh, my gosh! This must have been SO incredible, Donna… your whole body must have been tingling! Your photos tell the story very well and I’m so happy you shared it with us. I wish I had been there, too. One day I hope to see as many snow geese!
    That last snow globe photo would make a very challenging jigsaw puzzle, ha!

    • Thank you, Eliza! It was almost surreal, I know I had a smile was a mile wide, my ears were singing, my adrenaline was rushing. I wish you were there alongside me! My husband was saying earlier too I had some good shots for some dizzying puzzles. πŸ˜‰

  4. πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ“·πŸ‘πŸ’– It looks a bit like one of the bird feeders in the garden … until I go down quietly with the camera. Then it looks like an exhibition of feeders again..😁😘

  5. Loved your fabulous flock fly-by and photos and wish I had been there too!!πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing the amazing moment and love how the clouds and blue sky backgrounds changed the photos.πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! I wish you cold have been there too, it was truly amazing! The partly cloudy skies quickly went to all cloudy due to the 20 mph winds at that time. I was disappointed to lose the sunshine but that didn’t deter me to leave! lol I had my eye on all those geese still hanging out. The bonus Eagle tizzy was 1.5 hours after I arrived. πŸ™‚

  6. I enjoy shooting those Snow Geese massings – unbelievable woosh of noise when they take fligh. Guessing you had your aperture closed all the way down to get that depth in the flock.

  7. These are amazing shots, Donna. Lucky you – right time, right place. We were there yesterday (Friday) afternoon around 3:00 and saw only Canada Geese and Tundra Swans. What time of day were you there? Perhaps we were too early. However, I had no sooner stepped out of the car and just a foot or two off the shoulder of the road when a very very nasty man drove up onto the field right in front of me and told me to get off. He apparently is the nasty landowner I have heard about on MD Birding. Since he was in camo garb, with guns and dogs, I wasn’t about to argue that probably where I was standing was not technically his property. Not a pleasant experience, for sure.

    • Thank you, Susan! I arrived about 11:00am, left about 1:30pm. Just before I left, the SG did another lift-off (they did six total while I was there) and took high to the sky and left for the east.

      Oh no, on your owner encounter! I heard as well that the land owner was very up-front on no trespassing, and he has reason to be. Unfortunately, previous stupid people walked out towards the pond to see/photograph the Northern Lapwing up closer. People like them ruin so many chances of special encounters for the rest of us, many times they flush a bird that opts to leave for good. 😦 When I was there no one walked off the paved shoulder to watch. Someone made it known loudly about the owner’s no trespassing. Did you get to see the Lapwing? He was there still as of Wednesday per e-Bird.

      • You are right about people ruining it for others. I remember the snowy owl that was on the roof of Fisherman’s Restaurant at Kent Narrows a couple of years ago. He was visible from the adjacent parking lot, behind a fence. I heard later that some woman jumped the fence and walked up much too close and that drove him away.

  8. Wow, totally amazing. And I’m imagining all the other birds that didn’t fit into your frame…?! Talk about safety in numbers. It’s still amazing to me how they think as one and yet don’t collide in such close proximity.

    • Thank you, Lisa, it was amazing! All over our region, farms have small ponds. I pass many every day and can see from the distance geese, swan, and ducks on them. I’ve been telling my husband, I want a pond on our property. I’d have my little photo blind…. I imagine you’d love it too! And on the geese not colliding, I cannot believe I’ve never seen one take an accidental hit and get knocked down in flight at least a few feet if not to the ground.

  9. I am so much in awe of your experience and the photography….your post carries me right back into this same joy of seeing one of these miraculous displays!!! Thank you so much for sharing it! πŸ™

    The first time (engraved on my brain forever) was at the Klamath WLR. Your bunch is about twice the size of the one we came across. Then again our geese were accompanied by Sandhills…. (My cup runeth over.) πŸ₯°
    It was impossible to choose between clicking away with the camera or simply standing there with my mouth agape (sound familiar?)… almost too enthralled even for a happy dance. That came later! 😏 Nice Mt Shasta for background framing… such amazing memories.
    Eric didn’t warn me of what was about to come so it about blasted me away!

    I do NOT understand people like the ones who made the property owner so angry!!! Never will. 😑

    • Thank you, Gunta, so happy to bring back your experiences like this, it truly is something you’ll never forget, I agree! OMGosh to have Sandhills in the mix, and Mt Shasta background, oh I am jealous! πŸ˜‰ That for sure was mind-blowing. There was one moment when they were swirling over my head, I hollered WOOHOO, arms straight up in the air, no lie! (I don’t think they heard me, I hardly heard myself. 😁) Another thing I was happy about afterwards, I did not get poop bombed! hehe Even my car survived. Even if I had, that’d be a funny add to the experience. πŸ˜‰

      • I remember shooting straight up overhead, so it seems we escaped being poop bombed. How very considerate of our geese buddies. I seem to remember a WOOHOO and a lot of giggles and looking at Eric to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!!! We are SO incredibly lucky to catch a scene like this! πŸ₯°πŸ™ƒ

    • Thank you, Ashley! I think that Eagle was having a great time making the geese fly. lol It did appear to keep circling the pond where the ducks remained. I had my fingers crossed duck wasn’t on the menu for lunch that day. 😳

    • Thank you, Barbara, it was! I love the photo you picked. To be honest, that photo reminds me of my similar shots of White Pelicans going overhead. Their two forms and coloring looks almost identical in that shot. πŸ™‚ So glad I didn’t get poop bombed with that shot, hehe. It is dangerous being under a lift-off flock. πŸ˜…

    • Thank you, Denise, it was amazing! When they flew directly over me, the sound was deafening. I would love to see a flock of Sandhill Cranes or the big migration flocks! I’ve only ever seen just a few over the years. Some day!

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