Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Day of Wild Geese

Web photo of Canadian Geese

US route 26 runs across Wyoming and into Nebraska, where it follows for many miles the course of the North Platte River. All day on Saturday we drove this route easterly until it eventually brought us to Interstate 80. I have always enjoyed seeing wild geese, thrilled to hear their honking cries as they fly overhead on their migratory routes spring and fall.  Never have we seen so many geese. In small groups of a dozen or so, or in flocks [gaggles!] of many hundreds, the geese foraged in the bleached stubble of corn and grain fields. In the sky overhead they wheeled and circled in ever-shifting patterns as old as time. The skiens of flying geese intersected, spread apart, mingled and separated again, each goose somehow knowing its own place in the flapping, honking throngs.
We stopped in Ogallala, Nebraska to fuel the truck and to buy hot coffee.  I walked back toward the truck, styrofoam cup clutched in my hand, head raised as two more flocks of geese surged through the sky above. Near the leading wedge of geese were two flying side by side who were different.  From their white plummage they were likely Snow Geese who often co-habitate with their Canadian cousins. 
J. always practical, said wryly, "Do you think its wise to walk under such a flock of geese, staring upward with your mouth open?"
I conceded his point, lowered my coffee mug, but not my gaze from the spooling and weaving of the winged bodies.
Although I've had no opportunity to do any research, we think that the North Platte River provides a seasonal flyway and winter feeding area for thousands of geese before they fly farther north with the spring.
Their movement gave beauty and interest to a long day of many miles.


  1. Your husband is SO wise about not staring upwards etc . . . Strangely, I heard geese flying over and honking yesterday. Canada Geese as well I suspect. They sometimes stop off by the pond at the top of the hill or the one down the valley a little, to rest up before flying southwards again, but these appear to have kept going. Snow Geese too - reminds me of Paul Gallico's book.

    Your mention of Ogallala reminds me of that wonderful series Lonesome Dove. Gus's sweetheart Clara lived on the river Platte near Ogallala . . .

  2. Gorgeous! You're right about the North Platte being a major flyway. I think you're supposed to be able to see Sandhill Cranes migrating through there. I've always found the sound of migrating geese to be primevally moving...both sad and uplifiting at the same time. We have smaller flocks of Canada Geese spooling through here...wonder how many other commuters see them flying over the highway in the early a.m. Whenever they fly over my house, honking and gabbling, i feel like it's a special blessing from the natural world.