Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we’re featuring the work of a regular, Joe Dickinson, with some lovely geese pictures. Goose-o-Rama! His notes are indented:

Here are some photos of geese wintering at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex in the northern Central Valley of CA.  I’lll send soon a second set, mostly ducks, waders and raptors.

First, here is the setting, an extensive wetland lying east of the California Coast Range.

Now for the cast of characters:  here is a snow goose (Chen caerulescens), recognizable by yellowish tinge on head and a prominent “grin patch” on the bill.  I expect the species name in the binomial (think “cerulean”) reflects the fact that there is a dark morph (common in the east) formerly recognized as a distinct species, the blue goose.  If that morph was described and named first, conventions of priority would stick the snow goose with that name when the two were unified.

Ross’s goose (Chen rossi) is a bit smaller, typically has a white head and a smaller bill with little or no “grin patch”.  In this shot, I particularly like how ripples in the water reflect up onto the geese.

The other species present in large numbers in the winter is the greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), named for the white forehead.

This is a fairly typical scene with a large concentration of snow/Ross’s geese and white-fronted more dispersed.  I had the feeling that the latter actually might be more numerous overall because they were everywhere on the refuge rather than just in a couple of large flocks.

The geese move frequently from the wetlands to nearby fields.

Here are some snow geese (I’m pretty sure) taking flight.

The white-fronteds display a striking chevron patter on the tail when taking off (perhaps a signal to group members?).

I don’t know what these guys are up to, perhaps a courtship thing?

Now for a real highlight:  we were lucky to be on an observation platform at sunrise on a beautiful clear morning and caught the snow/Ross’s geese flying back in.  The low sun illuminates the birds from below and with a wonderful warm glow.

Finally, a nice group coming in for a landing just in front of us with the sun at our backs.


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Ooooo nice!

  2. Debbie Coplan
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    wonderful to wake up to such lovely photos!

  3. Christopher
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I can’t help but feel overcome with a feeling of awe when in the presence of a great number of animals like that, no matter the species. It always triggers the thought “Wow, this must have been what it was like before we screwed it all up.”

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Beautiful pictures! Masterfully done, and with interesting descriptions that ‘put me there’.
    I also like those ripple reflections on the Ross’.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      I scrolled right by that–thanks for pointing it out!

  5. Karen E Bartelt
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Great photos and wonderful subjects.

  6. rickflick
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Delightful. You managed to be at a great place at a great time.

    • Posted February 25, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      I should have thanked our daughter who joined us on this trip and convinced us to be out at truce refuges for sunrise.

  7. LB
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    These are wonderful! Thank you!

    My roommate would like to share some photos he’s taken of local wildlife, but I can’t figure out where to send them. he’s an amazing photographer and has given me permission to share them. Would someone be willing to let me know what address I should email them to? Thanks in advance!

  8. Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Formation flying, action… it’s all here. Thanks for that.

  9. Chris
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    You caught some great light and really knew how to use it.

  10. Posted February 25, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I like the ones where the setting sun reflects off the geese. Very pretty.

  11. Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    To paraphrase what a departed friend might have said – “what wonderful gooses!”

  12. Diane G.
    Posted February 27, 2018 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Beautiful birds and photography! Thanks!

  13. Mark R.
    Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Great and gorgeous geese! Thanks for sharing these lovely photos.

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