Today we’re featuring the work of a regular, Joe Dickinson, with some lovely geese pictures. Goose-o-Rama! His notes are indented:
Here are some photos of geese wintering at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex in the northern Central Valley of CA. I’lll send soon a second set, mostly ducks, waders and raptors.
First, here is the setting, an extensive wetland lying east of the California Coast Range.
Now for the cast of characters: here is a snow goose (Chen caerulescens), recognizable by yellowish tinge on head and a prominent “grin patch” on the bill. I expect the species name in the binomial (think “cerulean”) reflects the fact that there is a dark morph (common in the east) formerly recognized as a distinct species, the blue goose. If that morph was described and named first, conventions of priority would stick the snow goose with that name when the two were unified.
Ross’s goose (Chen rossi) is a bit smaller, typically has a white head and a smaller bill with little or no “grin patch”. In this shot, I particularly like how ripples in the water reflect up onto the geese.
The other species present in large numbers in the winter is the greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), named for the white forehead.
This is a fairly typical scene with a large concentration of snow/Ross’s geese and white-fronted more dispersed. I had the feeling that the latter actually might be more numerous overall because they were everywhere on the refuge rather than just in a couple of large flocks.
The geese move frequently from the wetlands to nearby fields.
Here are some snow geese (I’m pretty sure) taking flight.
The white-fronteds display a striking chevron patter on the tail when taking off (perhaps a signal to group members?).
I don’t know what these guys are up to, perhaps a courtship thing?
Now for a real highlight: we were lucky to be on an observation platform at sunrise on a beautiful clear morning and caught the snow/Ross’s geese flying back in. The low sun illuminates the birds from below and with a wonderful warm glow.
Finally, a nice group coming in for a landing just in front of us with the sun at our backs.