Saturday, October 11, 2008

Snow Geese! Thousands of Snow Geese!

We had gone to Westham Island to look for snow geese. We weren't too hopeful; last year, we missed them entirely. So we dawdled. We stopped at the side of the road to photograph pumpkins, and I discovered an interesting farm, so we poked around there for a goodish bit, (photos later). It was bitterly cold, with a sharp wind, and we weren't dressed for it. We froze.

While we were out in the fields, the geese flew high overhead. Long lines of them, Vs, and small flocks, moving west. We aimed at the sky and took photos until Laurie's battery ran out.

Snow geese, too high, flying too fast.

So we were happy; we had seen the geese. When they had gone, we finished the tour of the farm, bought fruit and veggies, talked to the owners. No rush, except that our teeth were chattering.

The car was deliciously warm, afterwards, and a cup of hot tea back in Ladner was calling to us. But we were almost at the end of the road; may as well check it out.

Two fields farther along, there they were:

Luckily, I had changed Laurie's camera batteries. We stood on the edge of the ditch, and took photo after photo; we couldn't stop. Every instant there was another marvellous configuration of geese, and another, and another. On the ground, in the air, far overhead and close enough, almost, to touch.

From where we stood, we could see two large fields full of geese. At one point, from another field that we couldn't see, a wave of geese suddenly lifted into the air, honking madly. They wheeled overhead, and settled somewhere behind a farmhouse. There must have been thousands just in those three fields alone.

Here's one field, just the central portion. Count them, if you can.

I was thinking, seeing them fill the sky, how it must have been for the earliest settlers, back when there was no city, when bird populations were at their peak; it must have seemed that the supply was infinite, inexhaustible. And yet, here we are, with extinctions in the offing. (Not the snow geese, at present; they're doing a bit too well for their own good. Link, see the bottom of the page.)

Enough; my teeth were chattering. We got back in the car and drove on. Two fields more, and another field of geese. We took photos there, too.

This one was standing guard. When he raised the alarm, "Photographers! Scatter!" half the field rose up, looked us over, and settled down to eat again.

The grass got in the way of this shot, but I like it because of the wing action. The geese fly with their legs up against the tail, but coming down, they drop them down into a forward-facing angle, and stretch their necks downward. An awkward-looking position, but it works for them.

It was odd: the geese were raising a constant chorus of honks, a choir several hundred voices strong. With the car window rolled down, we could hear them long before we were close enough to see them. And yet, in all the time we watched, I only saw this one with a beak open to shout.

On to the next field. The last before the entrance to Reifel, which was closed to the public. Never mind; that last field had a gate that we could lean over, instead of a ditch full of blackberries.

How do they keep so clean, puddling about in the mud like that?

One last photo, unfocused; where do you focus in this situation? I love the flurry of wings.

We turned and went back to Ladner for tea and coffee. Not without stopping several times to look at ducks and eagles and a pair of non-snow geese.

Coffee, tea, a warm blueberry muffin for Laurie, a beef samosa for me, nicely steaming. And a bit of a fireplace ... Ahhhh!


  1. sounds like a fantastic day!
    i agree with you; the flurry of wings is fascinating. poetic in a wild way. the third and the last photo shows that so well.

  2. It was demmed nippy up here too I'll tell you! Our first REAL frost last night, it dropped to -5.5 our low last night.

    Great shots of the snow geese. They NEVER stop by us! Darn.

  3. Great photos! The snow geese are just such a beautiful sight.


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