The snow geese have arrived — and there are so many of them!
After searching all afternoon on Wednesday looking for snow geese from Sage Junction to the Sage Raceway on 113 North west of Idaho Falls, I found a small flock of about 100 birds on a run-off created pond.
The water was backed up in a harvested potato field at 2900 East 200 North in Jefferson County just southwest of Jim Moore Pond (Roberts Gravel Pond) on the west side of the freeway.
As I watched the small flock, I heard the calling of flying snow geese coming in from the west and watched as wave after wave of birds began dropping in.
It was 4:15 p.m. and for the next two hours the sky remained full of the “wavies” as thousands dropped in.
Occasionally two Bald eagles would harass the geese feeding on rotten potatoes near the pond taking flight with their alarm calls drowning out all other sounds. They would circle around and drop back down in the water – eagles hate to get their tail feathers wet.
As they would circle, several times the flock would fly over my truck, depositing some high-powered fertilizer on my windshield.
I called my wife and told her I would be late for dinner as the whole flock was walking toward me as they were feeding. A local stopped to discuss the birds.
“I am surprised you are the only one here but they usually land out near the Sage Raceway and that road is closed because of flooding,” he stated.
“How many do you think are here?” I asked.
“Last night I figured there were from 15 to 20 thousand and there is almost twice as many tonight.”
As he left the geese continued to work toward me and as they got almost to the road, the eagles showed up, chasing them back to the water so I headed home and as I was driving down 200 North a group of four Greater White-fronted geese flew by in the fading light.
Thursday morning, I was at the pond at 5:30 p.m. and could hear the murmuring of snow geese, Tundra and Trumpeter swans, Mallards and Pin-tailed ducks and the occasional distant calls of Sandhill cranes. I joined the sleeping geese until I was awakened by them as they took off. They were hungry – no playing around as they took off heading west.
I tried following them, but either ran into flooded roads or even ran out of public roads to follow them. I hoped that they would show back up in the evening. On my way home I found a large flock in the flooded fields west of Market Lake.
That evening I took my wife out to the pond to see if the geese had come back – sure enough they were there – and so were other observers. Another Bill from Rexburg was there with his wife.
“This is the most snow geese that I have ever seen here,” the experienced photographer, Bill said as wave after wave of snow geese settled in. “I had to bring my wife out to see it and tomorrow I am bringing out my daughter to photograph them. Some of the geese were here when we got here at 3.”
We parked as the geese again worked their way right to us. There has not been a lot of “blue-phase” snow geese but there has been many “Ross’s geese,” a smaller version of the larger snow geese.
Last year most of these flocks did not stay very long in the area, but flew from American Falls over the mountains into Canada. Hopefully this year they will work from the Osgood area to the Market and Mud Lakes and on to Camas National Wildlife Refuge.
Right now it a great time to observe and enjoy them as they are coming into the same pond each evening, but as the snow melts they will have to move on.
If you are self-quarantined or have kids going stir-crazy because of the coronavirus, going out watching the snow geese, the thousands of swans, ducks, fighting raptors and all the bird activities from Sage Junction, Market Lake, Camas NWR and Mud Lake could be very entertaining and safe.