There are days when I go out to take photos and seeing nothing of interest. Perhaps a few roe deer that run off as I approach or a fox skulking by a distant hedgerow. I regularly see birds, but most are small and skittish and have moved on before I can lift my camera. Once in a while, though, I get to see a true spectacle.
After a dreary and very snowy winter (that saw me overturn my jeep – with me in it!), the sun finally appeared last week. Having been cooped up for what felt like forever, I grabbed my camera and ran. I didn’t expect anything beyond the usual roe deer and great tits and was delighted when I saw a few large white shapes congregated around a temporary lake (really, a big puddle!) not far off the road. I got out to take a closer look and was flabbergasted to discover that the large white shapes were surrounded by hundreds of small brown shapes, all squawking happily in the morning sunlight.
Slowly, I moved towards them, taking care not to startle them before I got close enough to take a shot. The sheer numbers were fascinating. My long lens is not made for taking wide angle shots and I couldn’t fit the whole flock into one image. As I switched to video mode, I heard another large flock arriving from the south. I managed to capture them swooping in to land. Unfortunately, the camera with long lens is quite heavy and I had a hard time holding it still, but you can still get a good impression of the size of the flock. How the second flock managed to find the first in what I consider to be “the middle of nowhere” is simply a mystery to me.
I switched back to photo mode to capture a few shots as the last of the new flock landed. Then I took another video to show the size of the resultant flock on the ground. It takes 45 seconds to scan from one end to the other!
Not happy with the sharpness of my shots, I tried inching ever closer. The swans stood guard, patrolling the perimeter. The geese seemed to ignore me until I took a step too far, upon which the entire flock took to the sky in unison. I was awestruck and petrified in equal measure, scenes from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” flashing through my mind. As they circled and swooped in my direction, I took off at speed back to my car, wellied feet giving me an ungainly guise. When they rushed over my head to circle back to their original spot, I realised they had forgiven my disturbance. I was reluctant to move closer, but I did stand and watch for a long time. I have never encountered such numbers up close before.
I believe these are bean geese, possibly tundra bean geese, but I’m no goose expert, so any alternative opinions are welcome.
Video 1: The second flock swoops in to land.
Video 2: The resultant flock, including swans.
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