Project 366 – Post No. 019 – The Elusive Snow Geese

What is Project 366? Read more here!

The last few weeks have been a time of searching, a time of planing, and a time of scheming. Our patience and resolve has been tested repeatedly. We have accumulated hundred kilometres on dusty country roads single-mindedly in pursuit of our goal. We have been searching for the elusive snow geese. Over the last few weeks flocks of thousands of snow geese have been observed in the shallow lakes around Beaverhill Natural Area East of Edmonton, and more geese are reported to arrive on a daily basis. This was obviously too much of a temptation for us, so we decided to track the geese down to experience one of nature’s truly incredible events. Much can be said about this adventure and there will be a separate blog post about this (scheduled for tomorrow night) but suffice to say after several excursion and following leads from expert birders the geese evaded us. Finally we gave up and deflated started heading home while pondering how tens-of-thousands of large birds can hide so effectively. We had just got on the highway outside of Tofield when suddenly, from the passenger seat, “Dad – stop, stop, stop!”. As I was on the highway there was obviously no stopping, but a turn of my head to check what my son was pointing at revealed a myriad a fluffy white birds sitting on a pond along the side of the highway. What happened then, all occurred every fast. As I desperately was scanning the road side for any possibility of getting of the highway I found a tiny dirt road. After a quick check in the rear mirrors, I stepped on the break and careened of the highway and onto the dirt road. As it turns out, the dirt road took us directly to the lake with the geese…, and there they were! Thousands up one thousand of white snow geese on the water as well as a cloud of geese spanning a large chunk of the horizon flying overhead. We knew we did not have much time. We quickly and stealthily snuck out of the car with our binoculars and camera ready. It only lasted seconds, but all of a sudden the geese on the lake all took off simultaneously. There were geese everywhere, all the geese became airborne in the span of a few seconds. As they gained altitude they joined the large flock flying overhead. We were floored. Later on, in the car on the way home, we were discussing how many geese we had seen. It was definitely in the tens-of-thousands, but was it 10000, 20000, or more? In the end we decided to record the “conservative” figure of 15000 individuals, but quite likely the actual number was higher. We did manage to snap a few pictures but none of them make justice to overwhelming scene of a mega-gaggle of snow geese.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

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