Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snow Goose Festival

Last weekend was the Snow Goose Festival in Stanwood - just south of here. Don and I have been to Skagit Valley to see the snow geese and the Trumpeter swans many times - and this year we found out they have a festival celebrating the birds. We packed up some water, snacks, coats, hats, gloves, walking sticks and walking shoes and headed out early.

We wanted to be on the first tour bus that takes people around to see the magnificent flocks of snow geese. This was a special treat for Don, as he got to be a passenger instead of being the driver - and was able to see much more of the scenery and the birds.

Thousands of Wragnell Island (Russia) Snow Geese winter here - often covering the fields. . .

Our bus was driven by a lovely volunteer, Sharon, from Josephine Care Home. She volunteers for many events, besides doing her regular job as activity coordinator for Josephine Home. She was sweet and accomodating - and very interesting. She told us of trips she has arranged for seniors to Disneyland - to Las Vegas - to see a loved one - many of these she does on her own time. What a thrill to be driven around by such a wonderful woman. I didn't think to get a photo of her - but her memory will last with us for a long time. She is the spirit of giving.

Mt. Baker (second highest peak in WA) in the background. . .

We were able to find a road where we could stop and get out. The main roads have signs posted - and police in plain view - saying NO STOPPING AT ANY TIME - NO PARKING - and they mean it. The main road is a busy highway that goes to the San Juan Island ferries and it would be dangerous and foolish to park and get out of your car on these roads - but you see people doing it all the time.

Hundreds of Snow Geese - walking about - jabbering - eating - fussing with another who gets on their "space".
The geese can fly up and land again without ever sitting on anyone's head - amazing.

A bald eagle is flying over - and the birds are getting restless . . . they don't want to be lunch. . .Up they go - like curtains . . .

The whole flock takes flight - the sound is amazing as they call to each other - we had gotten out of the bus and were standing right next to the flock - we could hear the sound of their wings as they flew up.
Overhead shot - they circled right over us - calling the whole time - it was like a blanket of noise.

Settling back down - the eagle was past and they could get back to eating. They eat grass and seed - and often they will take over a winter wheat field and pluck up the new plants and the seeds. They are also partial to the pea plants that are grown here - eating seed and new sprout. The farmers receive subsidies for their damaged fields.

Then a walk on a self guided tour. It was right along the bay and the tide was way out - leaving us almost no birds to see - and no birds to photograph. There was an amazing amount of drift wood in the area and I loved the shapes of the tree roots. This must be an interesting place in the winter when the storms beat against the shore and the drift wood is piled high.

I thought this one looked like a seal . . .

It was so cold and windy - the wind cut right through our heavy jackets and gloves - so back into the car - and where else - a thrift store of course.!!!!

We poked around for quite a while and didn't find a lot to bring home - but I got two more shopping totes ( 25 cents each) to add to the bunch we carry in the car at all times.

One of the bags was Mary Engelbreit - and the other was for Save the Spirit Bear - a really worthwhile organization - set up by the youth of Canada.

I got some embroidery floss storage boxes - just like this - but not filled with floss. I got four of the boxes for 6.00 and will use a couple for sorting my vintage buttons into - and the others for organizing my floss - which REALLY need organizing.

Then lunch at the Stanwood Cafe - no photos - I never remember to bring in my camera while eating. It was a darling cafe - with great food. Don had a burger and fries - enough fries to serve almost everyone in the place. I had a turkey sandwich and a salad - both delicious. They hire local high school girls to be the waitresses - and all were very helpful.

There are all sorts of antiques in the cafe, as well as a counter with stools that go round and round. While we were there a family of three boys, mom and dad - came in and sat at the counters. The boys really loved those stools. There was such local color there - retired farmers in their overalls and boots - the young family (apparently just finished with basketball practice), older folks chatting with long time friends. And the prices - we had our big filling lunches for just 13.24 for the two of us - you don't see that very often around here. We will certainly go back for lunch when we visit Stanwood again - and next time I'll try and remember to take photos. It was such a great "hometown" cafe.

A great day - birds, shopping, lunch and when we got home - Jahn came over for a visit - just a perfect day. And a tired Grammy.


Christine Thresh said...

I enjoyed going along with you to see the geese.
Your pictures are great.

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

A field of geese. Amazing. Driftwood. My favorite.

glassidentities said...

I found you because of the boxtop contest that auntifranni just blogged about. I clicked on your blog and am suprised.. we are neighbors... really close to it... I am on Camano Island :) I think I have some of the same photos of the geese as you on my camara :)

Julie said...

Sorry I have not been around commenting, but at least we have been e-mailing, eh?

Such great photos of an awesome sight! And that driftwood does look like a seal. Maybe it's a selkie (I'll be writing about selkies this month.)

Moon Daisies said...

Lovely bird photos, I would have loved to have been there, my husband and I are great bird lovers.

limpingalong said...

Loved your blog! We get geese wintering here in Texas -- they like the rice fields and the rice farmers will flood the fields after the rice is harvested and then the geese are "harvested." When I expressed an opinion that I thought it cruel I was told that it is necessary to cull the geese flocks else they will grow so large that they will starve. I guess that could be true. Still seems cruel to me. I truly love to hear the geese "talking" as they fly over our house at night.

belinda said...

What a lovely day you two had...the geese pictures were great! You are so fortunate to live
in a place that is so beautiful and
great 'atmosphere'! Thanks for sharing your day!!

Belvie said...

Those birds look pretty in the photo, but I have one question....Do they leave a mess like Canadian Geese do?

Love the picture with the mountain!

Norma said...

When you said you were going to the festival, I had no idea it would be this wonderful. Sounds like a wonderful day all around.
Wish I had been there!

*karendianne. said...

What a magical post. I love Mt Baker! That's my favorite. The whole trip was a wonderous day.