It’s 3 AM. The volume on the alarm slowly increases as to not startle me awake. It’s still just as annoying though. The realization of why this rude interruption to my beauty sleep has occurred, it’s time to make the photographs. On this glorious Saturday morning, the challenge was to capture some scenes of the traveling Snow Geese as they made their way back up North.
Every late winter Snow Geese make a few pit stops on their way to the Arctic, and apparently, this lake has a 5-star approval rating. At peak it is estimated to have 80-120,000 geese gathering, with seemingly about as many photographers and gawkers. Since it’s in Lancaster county, you’ll see plenty of Amish. That makes the parking lot super interesting. How much space do you give a horse drawn buggy when parking near one anyway?
The gaggle of geese started stirring sooner than sunrise. Warming wings up was what we witnessed.
If you watched and waited long enough, you could catch small groups begin to take off and circle the lake. A few times the numbers would increase as they would fly over those still floating, triggering more and more to fly.
Here we have a Gaggle Gigantus. No that’s a not a real name. But how do you write creatively for photos when it’s a mass of birds flying?
Side portraits! I liked this shot since it helps show the black tipped wings.
This may be my favorite up close shot. You can even see water droplets falling off of them.
Here’s a wider shot to give a bit more perspective on the amount of geese. Around 1900 the population had dwindled to less than 3,000 birds, but into the 21st century the population exploded. Snow geese began taking advantage of farm crops along migration routes and in wintering areas. In some areas, populations have increased as much as 9 percent per year.
The sun rose higher and began to cast warm light. That made for some neat shots that had light blasting in from the side, lighting up the wings and water droplets. The snow geese hordes in Pennsylvania are on their way north to the arctic and subarctic, where they will breed during the coming spring and summer, before migrating south once again in the fall. They winter along the Atlantic Coast and along inland waters.
It’s mesmerizing watching so many geese circling in unison.
Hours after the majority of Snow Geese took off to go find food, there was still plenty of people hanging out.
Best of luck to the Snow Geese on their arctic journey!