Snow Geese at Dead Creek

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We used to go every year. We got married in mid-October so we would travel past Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, on our way to go hiking in New York, every year. We looked forward to seeing the Snow Geese. There is a wildlife viewing station just off Route 17 and there would be hundreds of them. It was a spectacle.

There would be a blanket of white geese, thousands of them–honking, rising and falling in groups, waves of them landing or taking off. They would cluster right up to the fence at times, pecking away at the residue in the cut corn fields. It was hard to contain it in one’s imagination, let alone absorb the reality of it.

We don’t go hiking in New York every year now, but yesterday morning I went down to Dead Creek to see the geese, the rest of my family still in bed. I was alone there at first, arriving before the sun rose. A flock of Snow Geese was gathered close enough to see them, but they kept their distance from the viewing area. Then they started to rise and fly overhead. They did not take off all at once, but in large groups. They V-ed their way right over me, settling on the other side of the road in a cleared field. Eventually they all had migrated from the south side to the north side.

They flew as the sun broke the horizon, so they were lit from below. Their black wing tips contrasted with the white of their bodies. They honked, higher and a little squeakier than Canada Geese, their calling filling the morning. I looked for other geese, a White-Fronted Goose or a Ross’s Goose mixed in perhaps, but they all were Snow Geese.

By the time I was ready to head out, other people were arriving. I chatted a bit with them. They had missed the Peregrine Falcon perched right overhead, and the chatter of the Red-Winged Blackbirds. I drove up the road a ways to see if could find anything else, but it was a quiet morning. When I passed by again there was a big crowd, there to see the geese. For a while in the golden light of morning I had them all to myself. While there are not nearly as many as there were years ago, it was still a spectacle for a perfect October morning.

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A Few Scenes From the Week

Here are a few pics from our family’s week. It was a good one.

Snow in the Mountains, October 16

Snow in the Mountains, October 16

Sun Going Down, October 16

Sun Going Down, October 16

At Dead Creek--No Geese but a Turtle

At Dead Creek--No Geese but a Turtle

One View at Dead Creek in Addison

One View at Dead Creek in Addison

Optimists Looking for Birds at Dead Creek

Optimists Looking for Birds at Dead Creek

More Apples From Shelburne Orchard

More Apples From Shelburne Orchard

Milk Snake by the House

Milk Snake by the House

No Geese

My wife and I took a trip down to Addison today to see the geese.  We have gone down there for the past 14 years to see them.  Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area is a stop for thousands of migrating waterfoul and often this time of year the fields and the sky are filled with birds.  But no dice today.

Sometimes when we drive near the parking/viewing area we can see the birds from miles away.  Sometimes we can hear them long before we get there.  Today it looked like we would get little viewing for our efforts.  There have been years when the snow geese are lined up against the fence, rising and landing in groups among the larger flock.  Today there seemed to be just a few small groups in the far distance.  A few would rise and settle again, but we could see only a couple dozen against the tall grass.

If we were quiet enough we could hear them honking.  A couple flocks of ducks fluttered in.  We sat and listened and watched and talked quietly about the beauty of the place and the times we had visited in the past.  We talked about why the birds might gather some times and not others when we have visited on the same weekend every year.  Does it have to do with high or low pressure in the atmosphere?  Does air temperature affect when they fly?  Is climate change a factor?  We had no answers.

We may visit again in the next week or two, take the kids down to see if we have better luck.  Perhaps, however, we will wait until next year.  We like to see them, but we are in no rush.  I know they will come back.  So we will too.