Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow Geese

This morning I was running early on my way to work. Mainly because there was no frost on my windows. Then, in an incredible struck of luck, I spotted two immature Snow Geese in the field outside my neighborhood. This field has a near constant flock of Canada Geese in the fall, winter and spring, and despite my constant scanning - they always remain Canada Geese - unless of course there are a smattering of Rock Pigeons thrown in for good measure or spite.

Not today though - real, live, Snow Geese! Two of them! Why did the Snow Geese pick this morning to appear? Because this morning, @#$%, I had left my camera bag at home!
"Don't leave Geese!" I thought to myself as I made the split decision to correct that oversight.
I find it amazing that anxiety can reach such levels in moments it took me to turn back into my neighborhood, navigate safely to my house, retrieve my gear, drive back to the edge of the neighborhood, park, cross the divided two lane street on foot, and then, (having confirmed the birds had not been chased off by a happily walked dog), walk along the field to a position where I was not shooting into the sun.

Needless to say, I was happy they hadn't picked those few minutes to leave! Both birds, the second is visible in the top picture - facing away and feeding (AKA the moon shot) - are first year birds, and are trading out their dark plumage for the snowy white feathers they will show for the rest of their lives.

In addition to switching to their 'snow' white plumage, the birds' bare parts, (bills and feet), will turn mostly pink, except for the grin patch on the bill which will remain dark. Check my previous Snow Geese posts for adults in traditional and 'Blue' phases. This bird was nice enough to stretch, showing off the dark primary feathers on its wing, which will remain dark, but are generally hidden when it is standing or swimming and the wing is folded. These were my first juvenile Snow Geese, first of the year Snow Geese, and the first time I had seen more than one at a time in my home county. Not a bad way to spend a few extra minutes before work.

On the topic of good sightings, John Vanderpoel, a Colorado birder, is really tearing it up on his Big Year bid, if you haven't seen his blog yet be sure to check it out in the next six weeks. I have a feeling it is going to be a wild ride down to the end of 2011!

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