For the past couple of days, Al and I have been hearing more and more geese flying overhead, and landing in and around our back yard. It’s not uncommon to have Canada geese stop and peruse the neighbor’s farm field, but then we started to see the Snow geese. You may have seen my post from a couple of weeks ago where I traveled out to Cayuga Lake to take photos of the elusive birds when I heard they were gathering out there. Little did I know that I would have the chance to photograph them right in my own back yard. We’ve NEVER had Snow geese locally, unless it was a brief flyover on their way to better feeding grounds. So when they started to land in the farm field, making their loud, unusual honking noise, things got pretty excited around here. Needless to say, I took 55 photos… only two or three made the grade, barely.
Snow geese gather in our back yard/farm field
This photo is dreadfully grainy, but at least it shows that they really did land in our back yard… that’s my pool in the right corner, and my pin oak on the left. It started with just a few ~ 25-30 ~ but the more that saw the few landing, they all started to land. We must’ve had a couple hundred in the end! At one point, when they’d all gathered and seemed to be settling down, Al walked down just in front of and to the left of that tree and picked up a big fallen branch and began waving it at them. As expected, they all lifted off at once! I was so startled by the incredible SOUND of it ~ what a rush! It was like a giant “whoosh” as their wings all took flight at the same time! I got a couple of photos, but they were so grainy!
Snow geese take off and provide a sunset fly-by
I did catch this shot just as they banked over our neighbor’s house and over ours too. That’s the sunset in the back ground over our neighbor’s house. And then they were gone. I honestly don’t know what the “big attraction” is with Snow geese around here, but we see them so seldom and for such a short time. They’re an interesting break from the “standard issue” Canada goose that we see year in and year out on a daily basis. Hope you’ve enjoyed my little contribution on the subject of Snow geese… yet again!
Until next time, thanks for looking! ~ Tamara Eckstadt
After Friday morning’s jaunt out to Cayuga Lake State Park to photograph the wildlife gathering there, I decided to take another crack at it today ~ only this time I went out at dinner time, and Al went with me.
The lake was, yet again, inundated with white snow geese, as well as Canadian geese and a variety of ducks. However, like before, they were all engaged in the middle of the lake ~ quite a distance away for me to test my optical zoom. This time, I remembered to bring my winter gloves (fingertip optional), and I set up my tripod on the boat launch and watched. It was still bitter cold as the wind whipped. The mass of white geese looked like a strip of white snow on the center of the lake, and they all moved as one. I looked away for a second, and when I looked back they had all begun to lift ~ all at the same time! What an incredible sight!
The above photo is a bit blurry, as I think the wind caught it a little bit and/or it shook from my trembling cold hands! But you can clearly see the black tipped wings of the snow geese. There was another photographer out there when I got there, and when he saw what I saw, I thought he was going to have a coronary right there!
Here’s a look at them as they pass overhead. They were honking up a storm ~ a very different sound than the Canadian goose.
These two uncharacteristically lagged behind (maybe they were secretly “Graylag geese”). Anyway, the flight of the flock didn’t last for long. It seems they just lifted themselves for a bit to get more comfortable, then they settled back down for the evening. Those few seconds that they filled the sky over Cayuga Lake were sure exciting!
I had been waiting for an opportune time to get out and take some photos, as the weather around here has been less than cooperative for a few weeks. Well, today I have a day off from work, and rather than sleeping in, I was up and out the door by 7:15 a.m. and on my way to Cayuga Lake State Park and Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in Cayuga County looking for some photo ops. I had heard that the snow geese were gathering on Cayuga Lake, and I’ve never been lucky enough to get any good photos of them, so I took a chance.
I made it to the boat launch at the Park and, sure enough, the lake was plastered with them… among other Canadian geese and a variety of ducks. The sun was shining, but the wind was bitter cold and I’d forgotten my gloves. Despite that, I watched them for awhile and tried to take some photos, but the snow geese seem to like the MIDDLE of the lake, and my zoom just didn’t quite perform well enough to get anything good. So I left the boat launch and meandered my way up the lake a little bit, and soon found some geese nearer the shore that were somewhat accommodating.
Snow geese on Cayuga Lake, NY
Which end is up?
Snow geese on Cayuga Lake, NY
After leaving the shores of Cayuga Lake, I drove to nearby Montezuma Wildlife Refuge to see what, if any, wildlife would be seen today. There were a few who reluctantly posed for me.
Canada geese on thin ice!
3 Immature Bald Eagles on the ice.
My pictures aren’t the greatest… I think I was shivering at the time. I sure am shivering now!And to those of you who will inevitably ask: “Why do they call Bald Eagles “bald” when they aren’t”… here’s your answer ~ (from Wiki)
First of all, bald eagles are not bald. Some people say this bird was given the name “Bald eagle” because the lighter feathers on its head make the bird appear bald from a distance. In fact, the word “bald” comes from the old English term “balde” which originally meant white, not hairless.The bald eagle’s scientific name, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, stands for:
sea (halo), eagle (aeetos) and white (leukos), as in the feathers on the eagle’s head. So there you have it, the bald eagle is a seabird with a white head.