There’s nothing like watching a giant flock of Snow Geese blast off when a predator approaches. The photo above shows a flock that I photographed this weekend in the Skagit Valley near Conway, Washington.
It’s estimated that more than 50,000 Snow Geese winter in Washington’s Skagit Valley. They spend the night on the local waters of Puget Sound where they are safer from predators. During the day they head inland to hang out in the farm fields. There they snack on leftovers from the fall harvest or overwinter crops that some farmers are paid to plant for the geese.
To find the geese, drive the back roads of the Fir Island area and watch for incoming or outgoing groups of birds. Then follow the landing pattern to find the field where the birds are currently foraging. In some cases a flock may be over 10,000 birds at one location. The birds can typically be viewed and photographed from the road.
Pull off to a safe place and wait for the inevitable “blizzard” to occur when an eagle flies over or a nearby hunter’s shotgun goes off. The noise is unbelievable as the entire honking flock takes flight at once in a swirling blizzard of birds. It’s not a bad idea to wear a hat and clothes that you aren’t too worried about. The birds may fly directly overhead and will drop good-sized “gifts” that will likely require a trip through the car wash.
The birds often return to the same field after such a blastoff. Even if they move to another field follow the flock for more photo opportunities.