A Greater Number of Lesser Snow Geese

Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens)
Thousands of Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens) can be seen on playing fields in Richmond, British Columbia.

While in the Lower Mainland this weekend I was driving from Terra Nova Park (where I unsuccessfully looked for a Scrub Jay) to Garry Point (where I failed to find a Franklin’s Gull) I came upon the astounding sight of a playing field filled with thousands of Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens). I think that this might be the same flock that Hugh over at Rock Paper Lizard encountered in early November, 2009. A sure sign of winter on the west coast is the arrival of Snow Geese in late October and early November.

Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens)
Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens) with heads tucked against the cold, wet weather.

It was a surreal experience to see so many large birds in the middle of suburban Richmond, British Columbia. Typically, when I think of Snow Geese the fallow fields on Westham Island near Reifel Bird Sanctuary come to mind. Snow Geese make an appearance in the Comox Valley during the fall and early winter as well. Hugh had no answers to why they would choose a soccer field as a place to stop and feed and I’m puzzled by the whole phenomena as well. Perhaps farm fields are being swallowed up by development and the soccer field has become a substitute. Or perhaps, the population is growing and traditional feeding areas are no longer enough. Regardless, seeing this many birds in an urban setting is spectacular!

Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens)
Snow Geese (Chen caerulenscens) are medium-sized white geese with distinctive black wingtips.

I stopped to take a few photographs but felt a little awed by the sheer number of birds and found it difficult to get a good composition. Overwhelming.

To learn more about these fantastic birds, read Reifel Bird Sanctuary’s The Lesser Snow Goose Story.

See the map below for locations of Terra Nova Park, Garry Point and the Snow Geese soccer field.

8 comments

  1. I recognize the orange faces of the Wrangel Island flock. Many of their number also come to the Skagit River delta down here. If you are ever in the area, check out Fir Island just south of Mount Vernon, Washington. It’s on my commute to work every day. It’s like a white, glittering tornado when 10,000 birds take flight. Nice photos. Thanks.

  2. I really must get on over to Reifel one day soon, but, like you, I am not good with large numbers of things when it comes to taking photos. My wide angle and I do not get on so well. However, my macro is my best friend. I do remember seeing huge flocks of trumpeter swans on farmer’s fields in Delta a couple of years ago. Quite the spectacle.

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  4. Has anyone seen the snow geese today? We were planning to look for them this weekend, or possibly tomorrow (Nov 11). Hoping to spot them from the Canada Line!

  5. The keep an eye open when passing any soccer field close to Sturgeon Banks – but heading out to Reifel would be a better bet. Seeing them in the burbs was pretty weird!

  6. Thanks Dave – they’re definitely exciting birds to see. We’ll have to take a trip across the border to see the Washington state flock this winter!

  7. I saw what may have been the same very large group of geese when I was visiting Richmond last weekend (Nov.12&13). There were hundreds of them on the grounds of the rec centre at the corner of Granville as it turns into Railway. An amazing sight!

  8. Thanks for stopping in Irene – it truly is amazing to see these huge flocks of snow geese, especially in such an urban area.

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