Arctic Desert Denizens~

More than a million snow geese migrate to California each year.

They have been following this same migration pattern,

for millennia.

They come from Russia, Alaska and Canada.

Over 30,000 of them winter at The Salton Sea in Southern California.

It is always disconcerting,

to see thousands of these arctic birdies,

sunning in the desert.

Sandhill cranes from Canada soak up the sun here too.

Cheers to you from the arctic desert birdies~

267 thoughts on “Arctic Desert Denizens~

      1. Thank you Cindy! I am also feeling blessed and honored. Happy, Prosperous, Safe, and Healthy New Year 2021 to you and your family as well.
        || Be Happy Always || πŸ‘ͺπŸŒƒπŸ₯‚πŸŽ‡

      1. Exactly!! No tourists because the sea is still an ecological disaster area, but the birds are here in mass. It is a perfect place to spend the day during a pandemic because there are no people. Just you, the birds, and such a huge variety of predator tracks. Stay safe & well Dor and Happy New Year დ

      2. Nature is always beautiful and acts as a source of inspiration for everyone. Happy, Prosperous, Safe and Healthy New Year 2021 to you and your family. πŸ‘ͺπŸŒƒπŸ₯‚πŸŽ‡

    1. All your senses are taken over by the flock. It is an amazing experience. Sight, sound, touch everything becomes part of this overwhelming flock movement. It feels like one massive, moving thing, and you are a part of it. Most amazing of all? I have never been pooped on and I always try and get in the middle of flocks. Happy New Year Alexander. I look forward to sharing another year with you my friend πŸ‘ͺπŸŒƒπŸ₯‚πŸŽ‡

        1. Yes. It is an enigma. Scientists are studying how they do this. They are looking at non verbal communication between the birds, and at lead birds who seem to set the patterns. They are studying schooling fish too. Nature is so complex and intricate.

  1. Sometimes our Robins migrate, I’m not sure where. If it is a mild winter they don’t leave!
    I haven’t seen too many this winter. So It will be a sure sign of spring when the Robin’s return.

    I’ve learned though that vultures like to attack black roofs. We’ve got quite a few of that avian giant in our neighborhood. One year I saw one settled on one of the chimney’s of the older house up the block! Vultures are huge compared to the Coopers Hawks and are even larger than the occasional Eagle that has stopped by! πŸ™‚

    Lovely photos!!! Happy New Year.

    1. Wow! Vultures are massive birds and amazing gliders. They like to be where there are things to scavenge. We have them at The Holler, but they only show up when something dies. They have very sensitive olfactory abilities. The good news is they are excellent housekeepers and keep things tidy. Happy & Healthy New Year Jules πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

      1. We have a utility easement that I believe draws them. Probably some good stuff for them in there.

        Though I think they also like flying over the neighborhood. Hard to tell if they are Turkey or Black vultures. We could have both kinds. πŸ˜€
        Stay safe and sane! πŸ’•

  2. The snow geese always stop for a rest outside of Vancouver, BC where I used to live, on the way to California every year. They are a sight to see, whole fields covered in white! Love them.

  3. The snow geese always stop for a rest outside of Vancouver, BC where I used to live, on the way to California every year. They are a sight to see, whole fields covered in white! Love them.

    1. Their navigation ability is incredible isn’t it. Scientists are studying how they do this instantaneously. They are looking at forms of non-verbal communication between the leaders and followers დ

  4. Both snow geese and sandhill cranes migrate through Nebraska each year. I have been fortunate to see both. It is a breathtaking spectacle of sight and sound! Love your images, Cindy.

  5. Photos of an amazing phenomenon.
    On our only visit to the Salton Sea, the water was fetid and low and the shores were lined with dead fish. We were told the water becomes lower each year as the flow into it is diverted. This would seem a threat to the migration.

    1. The Salton Sea has many faces. It is a polluted, apocalyptic wasteland just as you describe in the northern parts, and amazingly wildlife still live there. At the far south, it is different. Crops are planted specifically for the migrating birds. Fields are flooded and it home to 100’000’s of thousands of migrating birds, many rare and endangered. Two ballot initiatives passed recently in California to save the sea. The Salton Sea is a complex ecological problem. Check out:

  6. We get around 100,000 snow geese stopping near us in Pennsylvania in the late spring each year. Utterly amazing to see them there with thousands of other migrating swans and such. Breathtaking, just like your photos.

        1. Your photos are amazing!! All those swans, walking on the ice! So beautiful. I have never seen them in such numbers. I definitely want to visit. Besides, I hear the food is really good! πŸ˜‰ <3

        1. Thank you for the link. The numbers are incredible! All those migrating swans! It must be amazing to witness. I would love to visit and to meet you and your rescue kitty-kats. I would be sure to adopt one and take him with me for the ride home. When covid goes, I am going to get going, big time! Cheers to you დ დ

  7. We used to go see huge flocks of Snow Geese stopping at Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge when we lived in DE. Such an amazing sight! Love your photos…they bring back fond memories. 😍

  8. Beautiful pictures. Sometimes I think I like to hibernate and just wake up for Spring….. or fly away to another country……. just thinking…. πŸ™‚

  9. You really have to have that artistic gift to be able to capture those geese in the splendor of their beauty. The series of photos are spectacular.
    Happy New Year Cindy. The best for you
    Manuel Angel

  10. It certainly gives me a new perspective on the Salton Sea, Cindy. I had no idea about the massive influx of birds. Your photos certainly capture the numbers! But my favorite photo was the last one. Thanks. Looking forward to your posts this year! –Curt

      1. Checked out the Audubon site. I’m sold. Peggy and I will put it on our bucket list. Who knows, maybe we will make it down there in January or February! Thanks, Cindy. –Curt

        1. Be forewarned. The Salton Sea is a complex and strange place. It is the largest lake in California. It is man made and it is a final receptacle for all the agricultural run off from the Central Valley. It is polluted. It is shrinking. The winds are full of toxic dust. It has two major faces, the north lake which is like a bizarre post apocalyptic wasteland, and the southern end which has flooded fields and such abundant wildlife. All of the sea is polluted, but some animals with short stays here and short life spans are less affected by the pollution. Fish live very brief lives here. If you decide to visit, please talk to me first, to discuss where you may want to go to experience all aspects of the sea and to know what you are going to see. It is like nowhere else on earth that I have been. It is strange. I think you might like it as I do. Many of the best lodging and eating options are closed due to covid. Plus to see the birds there are specific places to go. So talk to me first please so as to avoid disappointment. This post gives you some idea of what you will experience on the northern end of the sea:

          1. I’ve been there, Cindy, and way back when I was the Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League of California, the pollution was already a major factor. I will definitely depend on you to direct me to where the birds are. –Curt

  11. It’s great to see these photos. Bird migrations are amazing. I was wondering how the fires on the west coast last summer would affect birds migrating in the fall, especially the smaller ones. But your photos show that these geese and cranes seem to be OK.

    1. Yes. I so appreciate your concern Audrey. I don’t know the answer. The devastating loss of habitat would seem to affect all wildlife, including migrating birds. I did notice there were less birds and less variety than I normally see, but this may not be accurate because normally I stay overnight for several days in nearby Borrego Springs and take many day trips to the sea. This year I couldn’t do this due to covid and had to drive there and back in the same day which gave me much less time to see what is going on. It is four hours round trip. I am itching to go back, but it is a bit of a haul. I need to ask the biologists who I sometimes see there. They do bird counts. დ

    1. I would never forget watching the sandhill cranes on The Churchill River doing their dance and thinking, wow, I’ll see you in Southern California in the winter!! It is a small world. Your wonderful birds are so welcome here Rebecca. Stay well my friend დ

    1. You are most welcome Lynette. How wonderful that you know them from the north. It is such a small world and birds know this well since they navigate all around it, making friends where ever they go. Happy & Healthy New Year Lynette πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

  12. These are beautiful, Cindy, I love Snow Geese! They also winter in huge numbers around the mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Bay region, and I’ve sat in my car many times to watching and listening to them. When they take off, the noise is amazing, I’m sure you know. With a take off and/or landing, it’s like seeing a snow globe in real life! So glad you shared these, I’m missing ‘mine’ this winter. 😘

    1. Yes! I love your “snow globe in real life.” Wonderfully descriptive. Their sound is unique. If you get really close, the whirl of the wings, the wind they create, the sound of them, and the blockage of your vision except for the birds. It is an amazing experience დ

      1. I know what you mean, it’s like a Snow Geese tornado! I was standing outside my car (more than once πŸ˜‰ ) alongside a huge flock, when something startled them and they started flying and swirling all around me. Hearing their wings, their squawks, the sight was mesmerizing! Until the poo bombs started falling. I ran for my car! 🀣 I was lucky to not get hit but my car did. 😏

        1. I know I will regret saying this, because the birdies will know, and respond accordingly to a bird-poop braggart…. but I have never been pooped on by a wild bird πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ My cars have though, but I don’t blame the birdies for that! Happy New Year Donna! πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

          1. I’ve been bombed twice, lol. It wasn’t funny neither time…..but it is now. πŸ˜‚ I don’t mind the car either, hehe. Happy New Year, Cindy, from the other side of the U.S. πŸ₯‚ 😘

    1. “We had joy, we had fun
      We had seasons in the sun
      But the wine and the song
      Like the seasons have all gone.”
      I think these are lyrics from a British pop song that stuck in my head since I was little. There were so many more lyrics. I was always wondering as a kid, wait, where’s my joy and fun? I didn’t realize it was always passing.

      1. Can’t rememebr the group, but do the sone Cindy.

        Like a flash, I do say,
        Joy spins away,
        Replaced one day,
        With some dismay,
        As the mind sinks into disarray,
        And the body needs an X-ray,
        Stomach can’t cope with satay,
        No point in praying whatever you say,
        Gods got his hands full, every day,
        Tryingto make Covid-19 go away!

        I just made that up, gal. Am I losing it? Nae, I lost it ages ago.

        It’d nice if could go back and try again… mind you… perhaps not me. Hehehe!

        Thanks, take care and be safe, petal. β™₯

        1. Now that is an epic poem. And I feel the burn of the satay, the burning absence I mean… Life with no satay? I say nay! Hope the New Year is kind to you my friend πŸ‘ͺπŸŒƒπŸ₯‚πŸŽ‡

    1. Awww, thank you my friend. We are embarking on another virtual year together. How many has it been? Quite a few I think. I look forward to sharing the year with you. Happy & Healthy New Year to you πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

  13. Wow! That is an astonishingly huge number of geese! They’re beautiful, though, aren’t they?

    I’ve often wondered what effect migrating birds, en masse, have on the immediate environment. I suppose, as it happens year after year, it’s become part of the form of nature. (If that makes sense).

    I hope you have a good new year and years to come. All the best.

    1. Interesting question. I don’t really know the answer to it though. They certainly spread fertilizer, seeds, provide nutrients for hungry predators, and depending on the species, help keep insect and reptile populations in check. They have been migrating in numbers far greater than we have now for thousands of years so they are probably an integral part of the ecological web. Happy & Healthy New Year to you Val πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

    1. Bloggers create an awesome community of talented, creative and kind people, that I am so honored to be part of. People like you my friend! Happy & Healthy New Year to you πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

      1. Thank you for making me feel awesome. I am sure blogging has been a blessing for many this past year and will continue to be on into the coming year. I read and enjoy so many topics that I never imagined would be of interest. It’s hard to explain it to someone who has never blogged. It has to be experienced to be understood.
        The best to you too.

        1. You are so right. You have to be part of the blogging community to understand how awesome it is. I can’t even imagine the past year without it. The news media and FB would be our main source of information? Yuck. How dismal would that be! Bloggers give us interesting things to read about, see and share. God bless bloggers!!

  14. We don’t see snow geese (gorgeous photos BTW) but we have two gaggles of geese who live in our neighborhood – came from Canada and now just live here.

    1. Thank you more for appreciating them Charles and Happy & Healthy New year my friend. I look forward to sharing another virtual year with you! πŸŒΏπŸ•›πŸ’πŸ’•

  15. Talk about lots of birds.

    The plan had been to place a lot of windmills and solar panels along their flyway. Fortunately, the power utilities couldn’t pass their EIS.

    1. You gotta scratch your head re: the planners, don’t ya? I wonder how long it took in the planning process before they figured out that a million birds might mess up their windmills.

  16. Spectacular, Cindy! They are sure a sight to see. There are some bird sanctuaries in NorCal that I’ve visited over the years. Armed with my new camera 4 years ago, we ventured out to one near Colusa. I couldn’t wait to see them flocking like in the past. BUT…there had been so much rain that the water was almost too deep for them to feed properly. I saw a few that day but not what I had hoped for. Great shots and good timing!

    1. Ah, thank you Terri! Lots of water enables them to spread out more and be more difficult to see. I have experienced this too and it is frustrating for us, but good for the birds. Wishing you a Happy & Healthy New Year my friend დ

  17. WOW!!! Just AMAZING!!
    I would love to be a Snowbird (of the human sort) and fly to California or Texas or anywhere south for the winter. *sigh*


    1. So happy you enjoyed Carmen & thank you. You just continue blooming where you’re planted. Southern California is not a safe place to be right now my friend. Happy & Healthy New Year დ

  18. Happy New Year, Cindy! So lovely to be able to visit with your spectacular pictures. And, as always, I had to scroll down forever to be able to comment. πŸ™‚ Wishing you the best for 2021. Stay safe. Lots of love, xx

  19. We have many that pass through here and the entire city of Portland and surround will stop for them if they wander the interstate or roadways. You are so good at capturing the full magnificence of these birds. Happy New Year, Cindy.

  20. I think migration is fascinating, and of course you capture it beautifully! It’s a wonder how they don’t bump into each other in such large close flocks. Thank you, Cindy.

  21. Oh how lovely. The sound must be amazing. One year in particular, hundreds of dark-bellied Brent geese migrated from Russia to the UK’s SE coast. Every time they flew in configuration over my garden, my dog and I rushed out with excitement to watch them. They honked from dawn until dusk. It was sublime.

    1. Just reading about this gives me goosebumps. How wonderful that you and your dog loved and appreciated them! It is nature, in all her glory, just waiting for us to notice and recognize, we are part of all of it. Stay safe and well Sarah დ

      1. Muchas bendiciones para ti y tu querida familia, Cindy. Y sΓ­, amiga mΓ­a, admiro tu trabajo. A veces te imagino en la minuciosa labor de captar los momentos y seleccionar las imΓ‘genes mΓ‘s bellas y cautivantes. Te felicito nuevamente.

  22. Hi, Cindy,

    I have been very tired after Christmas, and have been keeping holidays.


    In addition to this I have worries with my computer all the time.I’ll try to come back – maybe in February.Happy New Year 2021! ?? ? ? ?

    I am always hibernating on January and sometimes also February ?? ??

    Sending many blessings to you ?? ?? ??

    Anaelle A. ??

    ________________________________ LΓ€hettΓ€jΓ€: LΓ€hetetty: lauantai 2. tammikuuta 2021 16.25 Vastaanottaja: Aihe: [New post] Arctic Desert Denizens~

    cindy knoke posted: ” More than a million snow geese migrate to California each year. They have been following this same migration pattern, for millennia. They come from Russia, Alaska and Canada. Over 30,000 of them winter at The Salto”

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