Mar 07 2009

How many?

Published by at 1:08 pm under Migration,Travel,Water and Shore

Snow Geese take off from Middle Creek (photo by Kim Steininger)
Look closely.  These aren't just random black and white patterns.  These are snow geese taking flight. 

Kim Steininger took this photo at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area at the peak of spring migration.  There were probably 80,000 to 100,000 snow geese there that day.

This weekend I've rolled the dice and driven five hours to Kleinfeltersville, PA hoping to see the same thing.  On Friday the snow goose count was only 25,000 but the numbers change every day in early March.  There's been a south wind, and I'm hoping there'll be a lot of birds when I get there. 

A flock of 100,000 birds of any kind is exciting and with snow geese it's truly exhilarating.  I always arrive before dawn, walk to Willow Point and wait.  The geese murmur in the dark.  Slowly the sun rises and the birds prepare to leave.  If I'm lucky, a bald eagle will fly by and the geese will rise up all at once. 

That must have been the situation when Kim took this picture.  The geese on the ground are craning their necks, looking worried.  The rest are jumping into the sky.  It's a wonder that amidst all the flapping and honking they don't knock each other out - but they don't. 

I love to watch the chaos and patterns of snow geese.  I just have to be lucky with my timing and be there when they are.

(photo by Kim Steininger)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “How many?”

  1. Marcy Con 07 Mar 2009 at 6:23 pm

    We are hoping to get out there this year, but not sure. Will you be sitting on the hill waving to us? That was so funny when you did that a few years back. How many Ross’s Geese do you see in this photo? It’s beautiful and making me wish we were there. Should be time for the Tundras and Snow Geese to fly north over the house…had a Sandhill Crane fly over today which was a very nice surprise…wonder how much we miss when we aren’t looking up?

  2. Kristenon 08 Mar 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Wow, that is a stunning shot! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Deniseon 08 Mar 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I have been walking on the Heritage trail in pittsburgh. I have notice many wooody plants with the bark missing on the lower 2 feet of the stems. Some of the smaller trees are also missing bark. Could this be a sign of beaver in the area?

  4. Kim Steiningeron 09 Mar 2009 at 3:41 am

    Actually that photo is from March of 2007 when they had a record number of Snow Geese. Something like 260,000 I believe!!! For anyone who has never experienced a Snow Goose blast off/wave, you should try to visit Middle Creek sometime this month. You just haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed this spectacle in person! It was great talking with you yesterday Kate! 🙂

  5. Kate St. Johnon 09 Mar 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Denise, If I’m remembering correctly, I think I’ve seen evidence of beavers in the City along the Monogahela River at Duck Hollow. Is that where you were? I’m glad they’re back. It’s a sign our rivers are cleaner now.

  6. Chuck Tagueon 12 Mar 2009 at 11:54 am


    The chewed trunks and gnawed bark sound like the work of Eastern Cottontails. Inner bark is a winter survival food for rabbits, especially when there’s a heavy cover of snow and ice. Two feet is about how high a rabbit can stretch. Some years, when the snow is deep, rabbits chew much higher up the trunk.
    Beavers gnaw the trunk off and leave a ragged stump, like a roughly sharpened pencil.
    Yes, Kate, there are beavers in the three rivers. I’ve seen beavers at Southside Riverfront Park on the Mon and on the Ohio near the Science Center. River beavers don’t build conspicuous lodges surrounded by water. Instead they hide them along steep banks.

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