Ross’s Geese Fill the Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. November 25, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A large flock of Ross’s geese fill the dusk sky during the fly-in, San Joaquin Valley, California
I photographed these birds on my first visit of the season to the San Joaquin Valley wildlife refuges… on a “wild goose chase” to find the Ross’s geese and other migratory birds out there. I spent the entire day in the general area, starting and ending at this refuge since it seems to be one of the more reliable locations in this area for finding the geese.
When I returned in the early evening it was perhaps an hour before sunset. I did a slow drive around the refuge, looking for geese. I saw a few, but they were mostly a bit too far away and out in the marshes where I would not really be able to photograph them. However, as I continued to look, I began to see the first hints of the evening fly-in across on the far side of the refuge, where groups of geese were flying over and an occasional flock would rise and circle for a minute or two. I headed over that direction to find a very large flock in a pasture area not far from the road. As I watched, they rose up in masse, circled the refuge, and then landed more or less where they had started. This is behavior that I recognize from previous visits, and I knew there was a very good chance that they would do it more than once, so I put a long lens on the camera and got out my tripod. (I might shoot birds handheld during the day, but in the evening when the light dims I prefer to use the tripod.) Sure enough, the flock soon lifted off again, once more circling the wider expanse of the refuge, and filling the dusk sky as they came close to my position.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.