Simply Snow Geese

The festive season is over, the weather till seems grey, dull and uninspiring but there’s yet another eye-catching BBC Nature series that I have started to tune into in the form of Earthflight.

Last weeks opening episode was set in North America and among the species that they followed in flight, with some dramatic small cameras attached to the birds backs as they headed north across the continent, were Snow Geese.

For the last couple of winters I too have spent some time in their company at one of their regular wintering stopover locations at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico.

Although they are joined here in large numbers by the languid and elegant Sandhill Cranes, it’s the 30,000+ snow geese that for me sum up the place.  To stand and watch them feed (honking incessantly in the process), to spend time trying to follow individual birds in to land as they join their fellows and to see the whole group simply blast off when a coyote or Harrier comes too close and spooks them is among my favourite ways to pass a cold clear winters day that this part of the States specialises in.

Add in some early morning or evening colour to give you the chance for some silhouettes too and there’s another raft of photographic opportunity.

And it goes even further when you start to play around with slower shutter speeds too as the creative possibilities are almost endless with a subject like this.

Part of the lesson for me from working with these birds is that it can really pay sometimes to spend a concentrated period of time working with one species in one location and looking to push the boundaries in the process of trying to build up a rounded and varied portfolio of them: it can be much more rewarding than chasing for new things all of the time.

As for Earthflight – well after exploring Africa this week it’e here to Europe next time round and it’ll be the turn of Barnacle Geese to take over from their Snow relatives.  As for me: well I’ll be with the Barnacles up on the Solway estuary instead and relying on Sky+ once again!

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