I’ve dreamed of seeing Snow Geese in flight ever since we lived in Southwestern Alaska. People from coastal villages told me how the big birds moved south in great flocks each October, stopping in remote areas of the Bering Sea Coast, places less accessible to us than Paris that time of year. We had swans and quirky Sand Hill Cranes, a myriad of other waterfall, but no cloud of Snow Geese ever darkened the Bethel sky in October. Today I barely noticed three of them feeding under the apparent guard of a resident Canada Goose.
This fulfillment of an old dream came on a day dominated by birds and sunshine in Spring. Aki and I returned to the Riverine forest trail, now dry after rain washed away the last of winter snow. Nesting bird song from invisible singers dominates the old growth when we enter the forest. Following Aki over to the forest edge I spot two Belted Kingfishers in noisy battle over the river. We move on after one drives the other off.
Deeper in the woods a Red Breasted Sapsucker (woodpecker) works the remnant of a large spruce than eyes us as we pass. There’s a heavy wind blowing off Lynn Canal but we don’t feel it until reaching the riverside meadow. I have to take it full on but wise little Aki plots a path along brush and trees that offer her relief from the wind. White-capped waves reach to a line of sand bars behind which the resident Canada Geese feed in calm water. More geese feed on river islands growing with the retreating tide including my three Snow Geese. While the resident birds sleep in the sun the Snow Geese hunt hard for feed. These must be stragglers. We heard reports of the Snow Geese migration reaching Fairbanks last month. Maybe they wait for the south wind to help them north.