All about Hoofbeats & Footprints

Snow Geese of Middle Creek WMA 2019

This past weekend I offered my first overnight photography workshop at Middle Creek Wildlife management area in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. For several years I make the sojourn to Middle Creek to be mesmerized by the enormous flock of migrating Snow Geese.

It never ceases to take my breath away and believe that magic happens right in front of us. We had a wonderful group of people that appreciated the great outdoors and were willing to adventure out in the cold temperatures in search of the Snow Geese. We were truly fortunate and managed to squeeze between two winter storm fronts during our stay.

Middle Creek WMA opens up the wildlife loop on March 1st, and when I arrived on Friday to scout for the weekend, most of the snow geese were on the lake. Driving slowly along the loop and the snow covered fields a lone straggler was nibbling grass along the road way.

Exposing for snow on the cloudy day always presents challenges and I made sure I exposed to the right to help brighten up the scene. Continuing on I went down another little road and found a goose couple in the corn fields.

The geese were rather confused and after spending some time watching and waiting for them to do the mass light off from the lake, I decided to drive the wildlife loop again and just when I got to the other side of the lake the flock got up and landed in the field before me. Although at a distance, seeing them blend into the tree line seemed perfect for an artistic rendition.

When out with the group that afternoon I kept the camera in the car so that I could focus on the participants and lamented when a very cooperative juvenile Red-tailed hawk hunted along the paved walkway to Willow Point. It was a lovely evening and the sun broke through the clouds bringing a beautiful golden glow to the snow geese. While walking back the parking area I noticed that thousands of Snow Geese were coming in to the lake and they just coming in wave after wave. I knew the next morning would be wonderful with a larger flock due to the new arrivals and couldn’t wait for the next day.

Returning for sunrise on Sunday, the rising sun brought some color on a usually drab and overcast wintery day. It was a pleasure to be able to enjoy the calm before the next winter storm was to begin that afternoon. We were treated to several mass lift-offs which is always spectacular with the thundering of their wings and the honks as they passed overhead.

Working with a slower shutter speed during one of the lift-offs I went for some creative blurs of the flock. The result seems like a snow storm over the Snow Geese.

It was a wonderful and successful first overnight event and I’m thrilled that all went smoothly. Thanks to everyone that joined me on this adventure and I look forward to many more in the future.

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