Thursday, March 10, 2011

Snow Geese at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

This is the peak of the late winter migration of snow geese and tundra swans from the Chesapeake Bay where the spend the winter, to the arctic tundra where they will nest.  Coy Hill of Country Captures and I traveled to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area near Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania, where we met my daughter Any Evans for a morning of photography.

I like to be in position along Middle Creek Lake before sunrise. Soon after daybreak, waterfowl begins leaving to feed in the surrounding fields.   I am featuring two extremely short video clips today, the first of which captures the moment as the sun appears over the horizon and swarms of waterfowl fill the air above the lake.

Sunrise At Middle Creek Wildlife Managment Area from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

Later in the morning we drove the road that passes around the north end of the lake and paused to photograph tundra swans and snow geese  flying overhead.

Snow Geese Flying North
Eventually we located a tremendous flock of snow geese feeding in a field, with more and more arriving as the morning progressed.

Coy Hill Photographs Flock Of Snow Geese
Snow Geese Prepare To Land
It was extremely hard to take high quality stills or video by this time as the light was very contrasty with a lot of glare and mirage, but nonetheless we remained with the large flock for over an hour.  Finally several geese began leaving and then the entire flock erupted in flight, which made for a spectacular sight, which is the subject of the second video clip.

Snow Geese Lift Off at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

Each year thousands visit Middle Creek to view the spring migration, while others hunt snow geese in the areas that are open to hunting.  There is a special "conservation hunt" that runs from February 21--April 16th, in an attempt to reduce snow goose numbers to a level that does not damage the arctic tundra.  Some claim there are at least twice as many geese as the arctic habitat will support without damaging the environment, while other deny that this is the case, and that nature will regulate geese numbers if man does not interfere.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Anonymous said...

I saw notice of the migration on the VisitPA site. I LOVE your close-up pictures of the snow geese! The contrast between the sky and the geese is really good.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

THe sights and sounds of all those geese only make me long for spring more.That is an amazing sight.

JimB said...

Looks like you and Coy had a great day--I love the videos-they captured the moments!!!!


Frank said...

Masses of wildlife .. I'm jealous. The videos captured the atmosphere extreemly well. You guys obviously had a great time.