Beyond My Ability to Capture

They’ve come. 


They’ve gone.


And I still haven’t gotten a really good photo of them . . . 

Few things cause me more agita than seeing something spectacular and a little unusual and not being able to share it with you.

And for that reason, the snow geese that come through here on their migration have  been a source of great agita.

Every November, septo-quazillions of snow geese arrive. I think they choose this area because we have lots of water and protected bays as well as many, many corn fields that have recently been harvested. 

They are the absolute highlight of late autumn for me. I follow them around with a camera and, yet, I am never satisfied. I can’t capture the sheer numbers of them, I can’t capture the racket they make, I can’t capture the way their white wings, with the black tips, glitter against a blue sky, and the way a mass of them, rising from the lake, appear to be a storm of snowflakes, falling up.

The first time I ever saw them, I was taking a walk by the lake and could see a line of snow across the bay. But it was well above freezing and that couldn’t be snow . . .


Plus it was moving.

My mother and I went to watch them a couple weeks ago. The geese were all placid and happy and chortling near shore. I said to my mom, “If I were a different kind of person, I’d throw a stone, just so we could see them all take off at once.”

A moment later, a small plane flew low overhead . . . and the geese all took off at once. And me, not quick enough to get a video that might’ve conveyed the majesty . . .


A few days later, I drove home at twilight. We’d had snow that covered the ground and made it difficult for the geese to find leftover corn. But at that moment, three huge harvesters were at work in the fields . . . and uncountable geese were whirling and swirling and rising and falling around the harvesters.

A Thanksgiving all-you-can-eat buffet for hungry birds.

All along the rural road, cars pulled over to watch the scene. I sat and gawked and took a ton of photos and was so excited  . . . and the photos look like nothing special at all.


Maybe some moments are not meant to be captured, to be frozen, to be stopped in time. 

Maybe the snow geese are simply to be experienced. 

Maybe you need to come next November and see them for yourself!


81 thoughts on “Beyond My Ability to Capture

  1. I think you did an admirable job with your photographs! Every summer I try to get a really good photo of a hummingbird, one little bird, and I never have. But you’ve captured septo-quazillion birds in your beautiful images. I think maybe next year you should concentrate on video. The sound and movement must add to the magic.

      • Yes, I think the corn fields are critical to the geese choosing this area. I can never figure out the logic of their movement from the lake to the fields. They seem to like being in the water when the sun is shining, maybe?

    • I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of the hummingbird photo, too–so hard to do justice to those small birds! A video of the snow geese is probably the answer–maybe next year!

  2. I can’t imagine how much more spectacular you say they look than what you were unable to capture. I thought you captured their majesty simply perfectly. Award winning photo’s for me!

  3. Although we can’t compete with the numbers you decribe, we too are goose-migration central here too, and it’s such a thrilling experience. It’s too late here now, but some 6 weeks ago, the skies were always filled with their excited squawks. It’s truly wonderful, isn’t it?

    • It really is. We get the Canada geese earlier and they are long gone but the snow geese always come late–they seem to be here around our Thanksgiving, in late November.

  4. The “snow ridge” of geese floating when there was no snow, steam layer sandwiched between water and sky, beautiful day, keeper photo (s) !!! Thank you for sharing November on the lake!

    • Jane! How nice to see you here! You should come visit some November and see this with your own eyes. As good a photographer as you are, maybe you could get the perfect photo!

  5. I think you’ve done a pretty amazing job, so I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like if you’re dissatisfied with these images. I must say my favourite is the second one, with those delicate traceries against the sunset sky, dozens of skeins of geese on their way who knows where…

  6. Oh wow! Septo-quazillions of snow geese make for an incredible sight. And I can only imagine the noise! You could do annual “Come See’ tours ……….. While I enjoy looking at what you have captured – and the last one especially is perfection to me – I am one of those look and wonder people who prefer to enjoy the moment rather than try to capture it. It’s a bit of a conundrum isn’t it I don’t know how many times when I am out walking I wish I had my phone/camera with me, yet I never take it. And it’s hard to blog without pictures 🙂

    • It IS hard to blog without photos! And I am interested in how often I see something and think, “oh, I want to share that with my blog friends!”–having the blog has changed my way of seeing, I think. But, you’re totally right–I need to remind myself to simply enjoy the moment while I’m in it!

      • It’s a balance I think – and I am not in any way saying you shouldn’t be photographing 😀 I often wish I had my camera with me on our walks. I’m not posting at the moment because all my makings are Christmas presents and I could have been sharing the fun and foibles of my daily interactions…………

  7. You may not have captured the full majesty as you experience it, but you have given us a pretty darn good sense of what it must be like to be experiencing the movement and sound of masses of these glorious beauties. Well done.

      • An occasional one may stray into Maine, but I don’t think we are really on their flyway. I have never seen anything like the hordes that visit you! I may take a trip into Quebec one day to see them (and look at spinning wheels).

  8. I think ‘an experience’ such as this is always going to be difficult to capture – you really do have to be there to appreciate it – but I think you’ve done an excellent job in conveying what we’ve missed.
    I quite like the video idea though.

  9. Wonderful photos and what sounds like a magical experience. Here in the UK, starlings fly in huge flocks that almost merge as one making magical shapes in the sky, they are called murmurings of starlings. Thanks for sharing your geese 🙂

  10. I would definitely be peeved, too, if I didn’t manage to capture something like those geese perfectly; having said that, I think that 2nd pic from the to gives us a pretty good idea of what it might have looked like to see them in action, and as the snarkyquilter said – the best photo is what remains in your head. I think no camera capture can ever keep up with that anyway…

    • You have an advanced set of photography skills and could do a much better job that I, I’m sure. I do, though, always try to remember to put the camera aside at some point and just look.

  11. They frequent the fields behind our house because of the small pond in the middle of the field. You hear them before you see them. I too have been unable to get the perfect picture in over 20 years of trying but still try every year.

  12. I have seen this and it is truly a marvelous thing to see and hear! I had Canadian geese fly overhead the other day ,and wondered if they came from your area.

    • Do you see the snow geese there? I have no idea where they go when they leave here. Did the Canada geese waggle their wings to say hello? I asked them to, when they went over your house . . .

      • Here in Georgia,I haven’t seen snow geese, but where I was raised on the eastern shore,we lived in the country with lots of corn fields around ,they would come very winter to clean up the fields. That’s why those geese waggled their wings!😁

  13. You may have wished for better shots, but you gave me goose bumps. I looked up a photo and explanation because I’ve never seen a snow goose. So, you also provided a learning moment. 🙂 We see a lot of Canada geese, but no comparison to your beauties. Your photos depict a truly amazing sight.

    • It’s funny–I quite love the Canada geese, too, but they seem kind of “old news” now that I’ve been introduced to the snow geese. And you probably currently know more about snow geese than I do. I think about looking up info–why they choose this route, where they go, etc–but then I decide i kind of like the mystery of them!

  14. This must be a sight to behold! I never knew they migrated in such numbers. Where do they spend the summer? Mexico? By co-incidence yesterday I saw a marvellous video at an exhibition. The exhibition was supporting the wetland areas on bird migration routes from the Arctic through to Australia. The video was of Great Knots wheeling in huge flocks around the shores of Darwin. From that I can imagine the majestic spectacle of your snow geese in flight.

    • They seem to be very social birds–masses of them always! I was just saying to Judy that I have never looked up where they go in summer or winter, or why they come this particular route . . . i think about it and then just decide I like the mystery of them!

  15. It’s always amazing to see something like that. Your pictures do a pretty darn good job of conveying. I do like to see snow geese, but have never seen them in that quantity! Thanks for the experience (I imagine sound is a good part of it, too).

    • Sound is a huge part of the experience–they are very chatty! I never knew where they went, when they left here, but it seems your area must be on the route south.

  16. Magical, snow geese are magical. In their number, their beauty, the sounds. Your post makes me very happy, and it evokes many magical bird moment memories. But I can feel for you too. Just this week I walked to my work over the parking lot and first heard and than saw a beautiful V-shape with cranes , calling their strange call. There I was by myself and they flew too high and too fast for either photo or calling out to my collegues. I decided to stand still and watch and take it in. Have a lovely weekend Kerry, xoxo Johanna

  17. Perhaps some things are not meant to be captured but I think you have done a fine job of expressing your wonder and awe, and the photos aren’t half bad either. 🙂 I would love to see these scenes up close and personal.

      • They do come through here in April and go south again in September or October. Supposedly there are some that winter-over, but I don’t know if that’s still the case. But catching a glimpse of them so high, circling, the sun catching them to sparkle light glitter, and then they disappear again… I love them. 🙂

  18. I’ve been entranced with the magic of the snow goose since I received a certain LP as a child, a dramatic recording of Paul Gallico’s story “The Snow Goose.” Do you know it? Tremendously moving.

  19. Wow! I love to see geese flying over but we only get small groups, nothing like this! I can imagine a photo can’t capture the sheer spectacle of it, but I think you did a pretty good job all the same!

  20. You’ve captured them beautifully, Kerry!
    The photos are great, as are your words “agita” and “septo-gazillion”.
    As always, your writing is wonderful, and I’m thankful for a snow day so I had time to visit!

  21. Apologies for being late, as ever! I had no idea you were graced with all these magical visitors each year! I think your wonderful photographs give a very good idea of what it is like to experience this natural phenomenon but I also know the frustration of seeing something spectacular and wishing to record it and seemingly fail in the attempt. Video is probably your best bet, as others have suggested but even that won’t be able to replicate what you see and hear with your eyes and ears and feel in your heart.

    • These geese really are magical and they’re still here. I thought they had moved on but I see them every day. One year I’ll try making a video but then I’d have to figure out how to post it on WordPress . . .

  22. I think your photos are terrific, but I fully understand what you mean about capturing the moment. Many things like this are spectacular and hard to capture. It make you appreciate the National Geo photographers all the more. I have dozens and dozens of blurred photos of both hummingbirds and bees. They move quickly, and I’m never fully prepared to capture the beauty and grace. One thing about photos though is that they help remind us of the spectacular moments that surrounded them. How I would love to pop in next fall to witness this first hand.

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