I’ve had a love affair and obsession with snow geese, along with their close cousins Ross’s geese, for 25 years. Watching a large flock of these birds take flight, filling the sky from horizon to horizon while deafening your ears with their calls, is an unforgettable, transcendent experience.
I’ve photographed these birds in every way imaginable over the years. You can see more images of them in my album of bird photographs on Google+, including some deliberate blurs, and a flash-blur. Last Wednesday and Thursday Claudia and I drove down to the San Joaquin Valley once again to photograph birds. This time I focused on capturing ethereal images of geese in the fog, and tried looking straight into the late-afternoon sun. I’ve included some notes on the accompanying photos a little further down.
On Wednesday Claudia and I returned to the San Joaquin Valley with our friend Kirk. We had another great day, capped by watching more than 10,000 Ross’ geese land in a pond right in front of us, silhouetted against the dusk sky. Claudia and I came back the next morning and watched them all fly out, the white birds reflected in the still water.
Video is a great medium for showing the incredible sights and sounds of these birds, and Claudia did an amazing job of capturing these events with our little Flip Mino video camera. At the end of each video you’ll also see some stills that I made.
Ross’ geese taking flight yesterday at Merced National Wildlife Refuge
I’ve seen many beautiful natural phenomena in my life: lightning storms, lunar rainbows, Horsetail Fall turning into a ribbon of orange water at sunset. But the most impressive and magical thing I’ve witnessed might be the sound and movement of large flocks of snow geese. The roar and synchronized motion of 10,000 glittering white birds taking flight is unforgettable.