2019—The Peel Off

Snow Geese. What amazing spectacles they perform over and over at Bosque del Apache. Photographers, birders, and nature enthusiasts alike crowd together on the roads and levees throughout Bosque del Apache just waiting for the blast-off when thousands of Snow Geese explode into the air with a cacophony of sound and the thunder of wingbeats. They do this with regularity and almost always predictably at dawn. The mass of birds flies overhead like a huge squadron of airplanes heading to the next location. Then, at some indecipherable signal, they blast off once again from the new location. If observers miss the dawn blast-off, they’ll usually see it at another location in the Refuge. But, sometimes there is no blast-off. Instead of the entire flock of thousands, just small groups of two, five, a dozen geese peel away from the group. But for whatever reason, the other geese are not persuaded to leave with them. Eventually, that pond, too, will be emptied of geese but instead of instantaneous abandonment, it can take hours. The ponds are quiet then, left to the Northern Pintails and Northern Shovelers to patrol the waters. This is a small group of Snow Geese, peeling off from the main flock at the Track Pond on Sunday morning.

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