Late January at Daybreak Imagery is typically a rather slow time for bird photography. If it snows, we enjoy the birds in our yard in snowy trees and at feeders. But with no snow, the scenery in south central Illinois in winter is brown and boring, to say the least. But we do watch for migrating species, and Richard is out in the field as much as possible searching for and photographing what he can find.
In January of 2010, Richard spent a lot of time photographing short-eared owls at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, which is located approximately 7 miles from our home. He took some amazing flight shots during a 10-day period when the owls were hunting voles on the prairie habitat. But on January 28, when he drove to the sanctuary to photograph short-ears, he didn’t find any. He did find Snow Geese and here’s his story behind this photo.
“I had struck out on short-eared owls at Prairie Ridge and was feeling a little bummed when I heard snow geese in the distance. For some reason their squeaking calls always bring a smile to my face so I packed up my gear and drove north on the country roads to get closer to them. Canada geese fly in orderly V-formations and are somewhat predictable in their behavior—but not snow geese! They are constantly on the move—always rising, then sitting, continually going up and down, zigzagging about like a platoon of disorderly soldiers with a poor leader. They make me laugh when I watch them and are a challenge to figure out where to be to take their picture! But that day, I managed to follow them over by Armstrong Road where I set up my tripod beside my car and took one photo before they moved on.
It was a very dark, gloomy day with extremely low light so I decided to use a slow shutter speed to blur the action of the birds moving in a group. This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 50D camera body, Canon 500mm f4 IS lens, shot at 1/160th of a second, F4, ISO 400. “
Yesterday, when I was working in the yard cleaning up downed tree branches from our recent ice storms, I smiled again as I heard Snow Geese flying overhead. Thousands poured in from the sky and landed in a field across the road from our house. I dropped my chain saw and grabbed my camera gear and took the photo below.
Snow Goose Fast Facts:
Scientific Name: Chen caerulescens
Medium sized goose 26-33” with wingspan of 52-55”
Adults are primarily white with some brown on back with black patch on wings.
Two color morphs: White-morph is white all over except black on wings. Immature is gray on top with a dark bill. Blue-Morph has dark brownish gray body with white head and neck.
Breeds in the arctic and subarctic.
Winters in wet (freshwater and saltwater) areas, marshes, and fields.
Behavior: Migrates in large flocks that feed together in fields and wet habitats.
Diet: Vegetarian. Plant material, seeds, leaves, grasses, roots, aquatic plants, waste grain in agricultural fields.