Went down to Squaw Creek NWR again a few days after our first trip, mainly because... how many times do you really get the chance to shoot a million geese? Numbers were bound to be slightly higher and based on the forecast, light would be a bit better than on our previous trip. So we got up at 3am, put our gear in the car, and started the drive towards Mound City, MO.
We were actually treated to a pretty decent sunrise on the way down near Pacific Junction, IA.
Stopped at Pacific Junction to shoot a large group of bald eagles. Would have been easier to just pull over on the shoulder of interstate to shoot them, but we elected the more legal option of taking an exit and walking out to get closer. Never really got any good shots as they all flew off when we came within a hundred yards, but I at least got one good group shot to show the sheer number of birds there.
Light wasn't real great when we arrived at Squaw, so we took our time driving around the loop. Stopped to shoot some random wildlife, including this possum.
Didn't feel too confident upon our first look at the "pile" of geese. You never really know when they're going to head further north. And when they do, more than likely most of them all go at once. So we weren't sure if they were just all out for morning feeding, or if they had moved on with their migration.
American Coot running across the water before taking off.
Light was still fairly "" and goose numbers low. Still plenty of cool ops with "just" a couple hundred thousand geese though.
Didn't seem to be a ton of eagles at Squaw, though there were obviously enough to keep scaring up the geese. This was about the only "close" eagle op we got all day.
Finally got around to the other side of the lake and subsequently found where our geese had been hiding lol. Nice dense little "tsunami" wave action going on here.
Just a stupid number of birds.
One of my favorite shots of the day. The geese always lift off in a sort of "zipper" pattern, so if you can get a good angle on it looking through multiple layers of geese, it really adds an interesting aspect of depth to the image.
Fun to do a telephoto shot and just get all geese in your photo. Who wants to count them? Like the dots of TV static.
Another sort of favorite of the day. Chris and I walked out along the berm (which splits the lake/marsh in half) to get closer to the geese. This is an ultra-wide shot, so the geese towards the top of the image were nearly overhead.
Another telephoto'd shot looking towards that distant antenna tower. Just love how much depth something like that can add. Nice to have some closer geese flying around in the image as well.
Did a really wide pano as the main pile of geese got spooked up and spilled over to the other side of the marsh. Click on the image for the high-res version.
Went around to the other side of the lake to search for eagles along the road. No such luck with the eagles, but at least we had a new angle to shoot our geese from. Shooting directly towards the sun, the harsh light gave the images some nice contrast. These geese were pretty much about to bump up against the shore, so geese were really filling the lake from end to end as more and more returned from their morning/afternoon feeding.
You look at this and you think "Holy crap, that is a lot of geese..."
And then you zoom out and realize... that massive pile is just a drop in the bucket. (click for higher res)
One of the cooler geese "shapes" of the day. Each wave is always a little different. Some stay low and are really compact, while others spread out. This one formed an interesting wedge shape.