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By Joseph Dempsey Tip of the Gooseberg

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Looks like a lot of geese. It is. And then again, it isn’t. This group is part of a flock that easily numbers in the thousands. Really big geese flocks number in the hundreds of thousands. It appears that snow geese are very successful at successfully making new geese.

Snow geese just love us here in the mid-South, where farmers raise soybeans in the summer and wheat in the winter. Go ahead, honk if you like soybean harvest droppings and tender wheat shoots. . . . . I’ll take back that request. Especially if you’re a goose. The response can be loud and boisterous. Geese are not known for being shy, reticent, and quiet.

Watching a huge flock rise is a listening experience. The honking increases exponentially, reaching a fever pitch as thousands of wings start flapping and grabbing for free air.  If there is a condition such as soft thunder, that’s it. Amazingly, the flock gets airborne in just a few seconds. They follow their appointed leader, who seems always to know the right direction to escape the interloper.

This group was shot week before last near Hazen, Arkansas. Shooting was complicated by a slight misty rain, driven by a wind pushing the 15-knot range — right in my face. Fortunately, the field had a turn row in the wind’s direction. These members of the flock were shot from inside my truck while the wind and rain whistled by. Nikon and water don’t mix well.

As I left the field, the rain subsided, so I decided I could shoot upwind with impunity. Big mistake. Do you have any idea how much guano several thousand geese can generate at any given moment? Concurrently, do you have any idea how many cubic-feet-per-minute of guano fumes can move on a 15-knot wind — and directly at you? Don’t ask. Not having the time or resources to burn some rags to clarify the air, I will tell you that, after my swift egress from the field, I drove for 15 minutes ... at highway speed ... with the windows all the way down ... to purge the truck of the pungency.

Wildlife management people tell us that geese are so plentiful, they may be mucking-up the environment to the detriment of less successful species. For that reason, many states have applied generous daily hunting bag limits on geese. Even then, the goose juggernaut doesn’t seem to be bothered. We touched on this once before about a year ago. Click here to see. Sometimes, you just can’t fight success.

N O T E S:  
Nikon D200 / AF VR-Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 ED D, hand held / ISO 400 / Post processed with Photoshop CS3 Extended and Genuine Fractals Print Pro.

More goose stuff on our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Click the jump wings
to see the previous
Photo of the Week.
Click the camera
for an index to every
Photo of the Week.
weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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