Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sky Full of Goose

Saturday, March 8, Kearney, Nebraska. Care to guess at how many species are in this photo?

I've seen some skies full of birds in my lifetime of birding, but I'm not sure I've EVER seen a sky quite as full as this one.

East of Kearney, Nebraska, near the famed Platte River migratory corridor for waterfowl and sandhill cranes, we came upon a gravel quarry absolutely filled with geese. The birds were resting on the water and on the islands between the quarry ponds, literally covering the surface. The noise of all those birds calling was the very definition of ear-splitting.

We had no idea how to estimate the number of birds present, but it seemed like several hundred thousand—and perhaps more than half a million.

Mixed goose flock containing Canadas, cackling, snow, Ross', and greater white-fronted geese.

We went back the next day and the flocks had almost entirely moved on to some other place. Ephemeral spectacle.

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