Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Preparing for the Incredible Journey North: Greater White-fronted Geese at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge

In early October the birds numbered in the dozens or hundreds. By late November they were in the thousands and tens of thousands. And then, after a long winter, they are beginning to leave again, headed north to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. They include the Snow and Ross's Geese, the Cackling Geese, and the ones I saw yesterday, the Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons).
The Beckwith Road viewing platform will be closing soon as more and more birds abandon the refuge and fly north, so I made a last trip out yesterday to see who was still hanging around. There were perhaps a hundred or so of the Greater White-fronted Geese near the road.
Several thousand Snow Geese were visible as well, but they were down by the lake and not easy to photograph. All in all, in the warm sunny weather of the past week they felt like the last few hangers-on, reluctant to start the several thousand mile long journey to their summer home. Given the big storm scheduled for next week, maybe delaying a bit was a good idea...

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