We recently returned from a road trip which included some hiking and sightseeing in warmer climes. Although we can barely even be described even as amateur birders, we were delighted to visit Bosque del Apache, where were were treated to the songs and dances of a few thousand ever-fascinating and mesmerizing Sandhill Cranes. They are some of my favorite birds, and we had the opportunity to observe them during the Monte Vista Crane Festival while doing research for our Great Sand Dunes guidebook.
However, the most memorable part of our birding day was when we stopped at a lake by the road, covered with tens of thousands of Snow Geese. (Yes, there are festivals for these white and black beauties as well, such as the High Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar, CO)
|And they’re off!|
We carefully stood by our cars, snapping shots of the stark-white birds floating calmly in the water. The birds seemed to ignore the handful of human observers.
Then suddenly a cry rang out, and the birds began taking off en masse. It sounded like a clap of thunder as thousands upon thousands of geese took off, their wings creating a wave of noise. The immense flock headed south.
|Tens of thousand birds form a “storm cloud”|
The monstrous mass of birds swirled this way and that, their form filling much of the visible sky.
Finally, the dark cloud of geese turned back toward the lake, and the next several minutes were filled with a different cacophony of squawks and calls as they all settled back into the water. It seemed as if they all felt the need to talk about what had just happened.
|Settling back in — but not without much discussion|
“Whoa! Who gave the signal for all of us to leave?”
“Junior. Junior! Get over here with your sister or we’ll migrate without you.”
“So there I was, minding my own business, just meditating on the water, when everyone around me took off…”
Beautiful, aren’t they?