Tofield Snow Goose Chase

Interview with Ethan

N.  Ethan, where did we go at the weekend (April 27/28)?

E. To Tofield, for the Snow Goose Chase – a weekend with organised bus tours for kids from Edmonton, and displays at the Community Hall in Tofield.  It’s held now because of the Spring Migration for Snow Geese, and other birds.

N. Oh, where do Snow Geese spend their winter?Snow Geese

E. They winter in regions on both American coasts as well as in some inland areas, frequenting open habitats like marshes, grasslands, marine inlets, freshwater ponds, and agricultural fields.

N. And where are they flying back to?

E.  Canadian and Northern Alaskan tundra in the vicinity of the coast, from the high arctic to the subarctic.

N. How many Snow Geese might you expect to see at a time?

E. Well, you can see 10,000 or more birds in a single flock!

N. How do you know they’re Snow Geese?

E. Their distinguishing features are not-too-big white geese, with black wing tips.  A tiny white goose with black wingtips, the Ross’s Goose is like a miniature version of the Snow Goose.

N. Was there anyone at the event that you were hoping to meet?

E. Yes – Charlotte Wasylik.  She’s a teenage birder who was there with the Young Naturalists, at a table with information for kids and their families.  She has her own birding blog and started the Alberta Birds Facebook page.

N. And what else did you see at the Community Hall that was interesting?DA3DF14EB9E91261C16011065F9D6629DCE258A7_large

E. They had some captive birds on display, including an immature Peregrine Falcon, and a Spectacled Owl – amongst others.

N. Did we do anything else?

E. We went out looking for Snow Geese ourselves, of course!  And any other kinds of birds.  We were hoping to see Ross’s Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Eared Grebe and others.  We went out to Beaverhill Lake – where the trails were flooded out, which wasn’t very helpful.  Even so, we saw some great birds there – including flocks of unidentifiable geese (flying too high in grey skies), American Coot, a couple of Horned Grebes, a male Northern Harrier and a flock of Sandhill Cranes, which I’d never seen before – a lifetime first.

N. Excellent, that’s exciting.

E. Yes, it is!

N. But I noticed that you didn’t mention Snow Geese…

E. We did not see any while we were looking on the Snow Goose Chase.  In fact, it turned out to be a Wild Goose Chase!

N. Groan!  That must have been disappointing.

E. Sort of.  We still had a long drive home, though.  And there was no way I was snoozing in the car when there was still daylight; I could look for birds still.

N. Did you see any? Starlings, maybe?

E. Yes, we saw a lot!  Starlings included, but other things too: Tundra Swans, Canvasback, Red-necked Grebes, and at one pond north of Camrose… 2000 Snow Geese!  Having finished the Snow Goose Chase without seeing any, wasn’t that ironic?  We also saw Greater White-fronted Geese on the same pond.

N. So would you say it was a successful day for you?

E. Yes – and I’d definitely recommend other people check it out next year!

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