It was just about dinner time last Saturday when we received a call telling us about a big flock of snow geese in a Byron field. According to the caller, there were reportedly "at least 200" snow geese out there.
Either the caller underestimated the size of the flock or else we took a wrong turn and came across an even larger gathering of "snows."
It isn't that unusual to see snow geese occasionally in Genesee County. Normally, however, if one wants to view sizeable flocks of "snowies" during spring migration they take a drive down the Thruway to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge or one of the Finger Lakes. But this was an opportunity to view a flock of snow geese close to home.
When we first spotted them they were more than a mile away, yet there was no mistaking the high-pitched chorus of snow geese on the wing. There must have been upwards of 2,000 of them with a smattering of Canada geese along for the ride. The massive flock had taken flight only moments before and from a distance the main concentration appeared as a sold band of brilliant white oscillating above the eastern horizon.
Whatever the reason for their departure from the Byron location, it was soon apparent they were not yet ready to continue on their migration northward.
Within minutes they were in Elba, and by that time the main flock had dispersed somewhat, breaking up into several small flocks, each of which still numbered in the hundreds. These flocks settled down into fields along Norton and Edgerton roads, as well as fields adjacent Bank Street Road, seeking any leftovers from autumn's corn harvest.
Whether migrating or simply making a temporary change in feeding locations, snow geese call the entire time they are on the wing.
Two thousand geese may seem like a lot, but where snow geese are concerned it's hardly a drop in the bucket. The snow goose migration is one of the longest in terms of time and distance and flocks sometimes number in excess of 50,000.
Fortunately, the snow geese are just passing through and their stopover is sure to be brief since they breed on the open tundra, well above the North American timberline -- and still a considerable way off.