And I am rejoicing and glad in it! Before you go further, if you are expecting a paper craft, forget it! This is much bigger than anything you or I could create…THE CREATOR did this, and it is spectacular!
Today’s blog is about one of, if not THE most awesome, magnificent sights I have ever in my life seen. I will post several photos, in order. Here is the first one.
I was on my computer yesterday evening, about 5:30 or so when a neighbor (Thanks TOM) stopped by to tell me there were thousands of Snow Geese just up the road in a field. He knew my next words would be: “Thanks! I’ll grab my camera!”
Well! If you know me at all, you know that was a call to action. I grabbed my jacket, camera and slipped on some shoes and out the door I went. This image was the first I took, at around 5:38. I could hardly believe my eyes! Thousands of geese in the air, and I hadn’t even looked at the ground yet. I don’t have a clue as to how you can estimate the numbers of birds, and with my 200 mm lens there was no way to get them all in one frame, or even 2 or 3.
I drove about 1/2 mile to the intersection and turned left where I could see them in the sky. Looking north I could see snow on the ground….snow GEESE, not the cold, white stuff from which to make snowmen. This shows most of the span of a 40 acre field from about 3/4 mile away. AMAZING sight. There may have been some other geese mixed in, but the ones I was close enough to identify were Snow Geese, both adult and immature. Isn’t that amazing?? And I am MILES from any water other than a couple of small farm ponds.
I was awestruck with the beauty and the choreography of these birds. How so many can be in the air and never fly into one another is amazing in itself. I so much wanted to drive into the field and get closer, but, though the ground is frozen, we had some rain over the weekend that made it slippery (we call it greasy) on top, so I knew that would be foolhardy. It was tough to do, but I stayed on the road.
I drove faster than I have ever driven on a gravel road back to the corner, made a left and gunned it up to the highway. Making another left turn, I drove about a 1/2 mile to come even with where they were on the south side of the highway. These are the same birds as in the photo above, but from the opposite direction. They seem to have an uncanny sense to land in the middle of a square mile, not close to where you can get a good look at them. Thank goodness for a long lens, in this case 500mm.
As I watched, enthralled, they were, how to say it…milling about? Flying about? I don’t know. It seemed they didn’t know whether to land or keep going. Some of them did land, then took off again and flew north over the highway to land in another field. I watched them here for a bit, and it was almost like watching a tennis match, swiveling my head (and camera) from north to south to capture as much of this spectacle as possible, both in my mind and with the camera.
This next image is on the north side of the highway as they landed.
Simply amazing. My heart swelled and my eyes welled up with the sheer beauty of it all. These birds have many, many miles to go to their breeding grounds in northern Canada, and beyond, well into the Arctic Circle. Basically, they fly to the top of the world to make their nests and raise their young, then fly back south to the southern United States and into Mexico for the winter.
Snow Geese mate for life, and many of the geese in these swirling clouds of feathered fowl were immature, probably traveling with their parents to the nesting grounds, where they will take a mate if they haven’t already done so. This image is of another wave coming in for a landing on the north side of the highway.
I turned around and looked to the west to see how low the sun was getting, and saw this cloud approaching. Still more geese! WOW!
They just kept coming…wave after wave of swirling, dipping, dropping, ascending birds. l quickly made some camera adjustments to allow for the dwindling light, and looked back to the field on the south side of the highway. WHOA! A huge group of them took flight and headed directly toward my house!
On the lower right are a couple of grain bins and a green roofed building. That is my place and they were apparently going to pay me a visit. I watched for a few moments, and it sure seemed they were headed that way. What to do? Stay and watch the north side of the road, or head toward home. Maybe my yard will look like it snowed!
The sun just slipped below the horizon, so I figured I better head home and see where they were planning to roost before the light was completely gone. I was 2 miles from the house, so by the time I got there, many of them (most) had landed. They were behind my house, about 1/4 mile away. This was the scene as I stood in my backyard.
It is to dark to see clearly, but, left of center the ground was tinged gray, as it was covered in snow geese. The cacophony was incredible. I used my phone to capture the sound of both their honking and the underlying hum of their wing beats. By now I am on sensory overload!
Before I went to bed I opened the window and I could still hear them ‘talking’ among themselves. At 3:15 when I awoke, I again checked and, sure enough, I could still hear them, though they were much quieter. Apparently they do sleep, but not all at the same time.
At 5:30 I got up, opened the window and I could still hear them, though they seemed to be further to the north and west and not directly behind the house.
By 5:50 I was in my car and driving to see if I could see them, using my binoculars. Yes! They were about 1/4 mile to the north of where they settled last night and further west. As the sky lightened, I could see more flying in from the east, looking more like a swarm of gnats than birds in flight. As they got closer, it appeared they would land with the others.
By now, a couple of friends had arrive to see this spectacle of which I had told them last night. We watched the new group land, then drove on up the road and around the corner to see if we could get any closer, as it seemed they would be only about 1/4 mile from that road. In my neck of the woods, roads are laid out in a 1 mile grid. The land is pretty flat, well, very flat, but with a few little dips it might not be possible to see something as small as a goose, even thousands of them.
But yes, there they were. We waited for them to take flight, and saw another wave, and another arriving, to fly on past us to their next destination. The sky looked like this for about an hour. There are no words to describe this.
Where we stood, we could see clouds of them coming from the east and south, not quite a 180 degree view, but for sure 140 degrees of the sky was filled with these masses of birds. There had to be several hundred thousand of them if not a million.
At last, some of them decided it was time to move on.
As they lifted off, I thought that all of them would go, but it was a few more minutes before the rest lifted off and headed toward their final destination. Before they left, they flew directly overhead as though to say, “Good-bye.”
A few of the stragglers.
I am humbled and awestruck by the precision, grace and beauty of these creatures of God. Nothing else today, nor for some time to come, can compare to this glorious morning and the richness of the Blessing of sharing such wonder with 2 BFs. God is GOOD! And, I am SO thankful to have been a witness to this glorious day.