[Tweeters] Snow Geese

Elston Hill elstonh at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 30 19:45:38 PST 2020

In 2014, my wife and I spent eleven days on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean with the Superintendent of the park in Siberia. There were just five of us. I believe we were the first and only guests to ever make an excursion across the island. It was an amazing trip with close encounters with polar bears, muskoxen, snowy owl checks and so much more very close up. Other than our group of five guests and three guides, we saw no other people as we crossed the island in a special tundra vehicle.

One day in late August we encountered a large flock of snow geese at a distance that were gathering for their flight south. The other three guests were obsessed with trying to get closer to the snow geese. But the snow geese would have none of that. They kept themselves at a great distance so that there were no good photographs of them.

My understanding is that the Wrangel Island snow geese are the only snow geese that migrate from North America to Asia. And, to my surprise, I discovered the Wrangel Island snow geese migrate to the Skagit Valley.

So imagine my surprise when I went up to the Skagit Valley that winter. We found a large flock of snow geese right along the road. We were close to some hunters and gun shots went off routinely. The snow geese were unphased by the hunters and let us come so close that we had full frame pictures of individual snow geese. I concluded that up on Wrangel Island with no year round population and just a few summer visitors, the geese were extraordinarily sensitive to the presence of humans. But the same geese seemed to be somewhat oblivious to humans in the Skagit Valley where they were habituated to humans.

More information about the Tweeters mailing list