Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Snows

Each spring large numbers of snow geese migrating from the wetlands of the mid-Atlantic coast to their breeding grounds in the Canadian arctic stop to rest and feed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. In recent years the number has exceeded 100,000 birds, in 2018 there were twice that number of snow geese at Middle Greek.

The peak numbers usually occur during the last week of February and the first week of March, and that’s when we, and many other photographers and birders, have gone to see them. For a number of reasons, including the large number of people, we didn’t get down to Middle Creek this year.

But then one morning as I was on my way to see if there was ice on several beaver ponds, our daughter called to say that she’d seen snow geese in a harvested corn field along the river. These geese were only about 20 miles away as the goose flies, a much shorter trip than going to Middle Creek.

Change of plans! The snow geese took a much higher priority than those beaver ponds so I drove on down and easily found the geese. My best estimate is there were about 10,000 birds feeding on the waste corn in the field as well as several dozen tundra swans. The birds were a long way from the road, perhaps 2,000 feet, the field had rolling terrain and there were waves of warm air rising from the field –


In among the large flock there was a scattering of blue morph geese. At one time they were considered a separate species, called blue geese, but the powers that be in the bird world decided the blues and snows were but one species. Here’s a photo of a blue phase goose I made in another place at another time

In the corn field a few birds would take off and leapfrog over the large flock then land to continue feeding –


Although they were too far away and the rising air currents too strong for good photographs, I didn’t want to leave the roadside and walk out into the field and disturb the birds. So I watched them for a while as two other cars stopped, the occupants got out, snapped a few cell phone pictures then got back in the cars and drove off.

Suddenly the entire flock took to the air, the birds circled the field several times, settled back down and then the birds resumed feeding –

I left the geese feeding in the field, went elsewhere and returned about an hour later – every last goose was gone, probably headed north toward the arctic.


5 comments:

Marcia said...

What a sight!

The Furry Gnome said...

What a magnificent sight, even at a distance! They don't come this far west in southern Ontario, so I've never seen them.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

Great post and photos of the Snow Geese. I have been to Middle Creek a few times. We did not make the trip this year. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend.

Kim S. said...

Exciting. The only time M and I saw them (many hundreds) was in the Finger Lakes, in a corn field near Seneca Lake. It was a thrill! We stayed in the car too, not wanting to disturb their hard work. I hate creating panic in critters. Kim in PA

betty-NZ said...

What fabulous creatures! I've never seen so many all together.