Friday, December 20, 2013

Snow Geese

Although the main attraction at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife refuge in southern New Mexico is the Sandhill Cranes, the predominant species are the snow geese.  This year, during our annual visit, the count was 40,000+ snow geese and 11,000 cranes.  

At dawn they blastoff, often to incredible sunrises while the cranes wait until the sun actually begins to shine before launching out to their feeding grounds

Sunrise over Bosque del Apache
The geese are quite skittish and seem to take off, circle and land many times in a day, creating incredible opportunities to watch their flight.

Late morning blastoff in one of the pools

Amazing to me is how they avoid crashing into one another as they effortlessly stream into the sky.

Often you see them circling around, ready to land yet taking off again on a moments notice.  This one minute video below will illustrate the incredible dance of these geese.

Occasionally you will see one, or two or three geese heading into land
Two geese ready circling to land

Equally amazing is they don't land on top of one another.  Below is one of the above geese landing amidst its brethren.  How do they do it?

Snow Goose Landing amidst is brethren
They do keep alert to their surroundings as you can see this goose below actually taking a long look at me who was only about 30 feet distant on my belly shooting this photo.

Snow Goose Sentinel

Occasionally one of the geese is not sufficiently alert and local predators score a nice fat lunch

Coyote having goose lunch
All in all it is quite a scene.  I could post many more photos of the geese, but I don't want to bore you.  You get the idea.

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