When I was growing up Canada Geese actually migrated. Spring or fall, when you heard the honking from way up high, you’d stop, shade your eyes and watch as the dark-winged skein flew overhead in a perfect V, a lopsided J, or even as a series of Vs shaping and re-forming without breaking a wingbeat. It made you feel and imagine and admire. So even now that I live in a place where the geese prefer to freeze their feet walking in waist deep (on them) snow, or standing on windswept ice, rather than take to the air for the Great Journey, I still stop and watch when I hear the unmistakable sound of a flying flock. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I realized the small flock of 24 birds I had paused to watch was led by a snowy white goose!
Luckily, I had been birding at the time, so my Nikon D5100 was already in my hand. For reasons known only to the demons of autofocus, I can rarely point and shoot at a moving object in the sky. So I had to click to Manual focus and hope for the best. (Focusing manually on a rapidly moving target when you have lousy eyesight is not a recipe for perfectly composed photographs!)
The photo, though not ideal, proved what I had thought: this flock of Canada’s was being led by a white phase Snow Goose!
Now if you live near Ottawa or Montreal, the phrase Snow Goose in spring brings to mind flocks of upwards of 10,000 birds feeding on harvested corn fields. Here in the golden horseshoe, such showy flocks are not the norm. We take our Snow Geese as a seasoning to our spring migration not a staple. So I was very pleased indeed.
When I got home and pulled the photo up on my computer, I was even more pleased. The bird next in the V, just behind the white goose, was not a Canada Goose either! After zooming it even out of focus its identity was obvious.
This was a dark phase Snow goose, often called a Blue Goose.
So it was a Two Goose morning. Well, 202 if you counted all the Canadas I had seen in the flock and in the slough. An excellent start to spring!
Do you see your snow geese in ones and twos, or in the tens of thousands? Is it “ho, hum, not again” or “oh wow!” Please share your experiences with a comment.