Geese, Sunset Clouds
Posted on 07 July 2013
Geese, Sunset Clouds. Central Valley, California. March 9, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A flock of geese passes above sunset-lit clouds over northern California
I made this photograph on what turned out to be, no surprise to me, my last migratory bird photography day of this season. (And a productive season it was!) In April the climate begins to shift strongly toward spring conditions in California and in this drought year that meant that not only did it warm up, but places that might otherwise remain wet were already drying out. I started the day at a wildlife refuge where I frequently photograph the birds, especially Ross’s Geese, and was fortunate to begin the day with some classic light Central Valley fog that gradually cleared as the morning wore on. After shooting for a few hours I came to that midday time when migratory bird photography isn’t as great as it is at the edges of the day – a time when one might think about how to kill the next few hours until the light again becomes conducive to photography. I spontaneously decided to not spend it waiting here but to instead drive a good distance north to another place I’ve photographed in the past but which I hadn’t visited this season.
I took my time on this long drive. The route itself requires more than an hour of driving, but a few side excursions added considerably to that. I pulled off the highway to investigate one small town that I hadn’t been through before, and I drive a ways up a side road that crosses the Diablo Range heading west, finding the green spring grasses and some early wildflowers. Back on the main highway, I continued north to an areas where I have photographed cranes and other birds in the past, but in this dry year all of the water was gone and agriculture work seemed to already be underway. I decided to try another wildlife reserve that isn’t far away, and it turned out to still be relatively wet – but the large flocks of birds that I could count on back where I started my day seemed to not be here. I continued my search, eventually spotting the tell-tale white “cloud” that could only mean that a flock of geese was busy in a field a ways to the north, so I quickly drove over there to find a very large flock of snow geese, which I don’t generally see further south. After sunset, this flock of geese flew high overhead in the waning twilight.
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.
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