Skagit Valley Snow Geese – Guest Blog by Cal Towle

Posted July 25th, 2012 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Brief Intro

One of the things I always encourage photographers to do is “publish” their work in a way so that others can enjoy their photography. This could mean blogging or creating a coffee table book or simply making prints that hang as a group on a wall. By putting your photographs into a cohesive work, you create something larger than the photos themselves.

Earlier this year, Cal Towle went out to the Skagit River Valley in Washington State to photograph the huge flocks of snow geese. During his adventure, thousands of geese exploded into the air and flew directly towards him and his camera. A single photo didn’t adequately convey the drama or excitement, so Cal put images and words into a photo story. He created a multi-page layout that he can view as a PDF or as a printed mini-book (See a screen shot of the entire layout at the end of this post).

Here’s Cal’s story on the Skagit Valley Snow Geese.

– Mike Hagen



My wife Monica and I went down to the Skagit Valley on a Friday and stayed through Sunday. It was cold, grey, and threatened to rain both days, but only spit a bit until Sunday afternoon. All of these photos were taken over those two days.

snow geese

We had an extraordinary experience on Saturday afternoon while photographing a large flock of snow geese. Keep in mind that they migrate between the Skagit Valley and Northern Canada/Alaska, and Northeastern Siberia twice a year and their wings are strong enough to break human bones.

We watched them take off in groups of just a few to several dozen flying in tight formations and then landing in the middle of large flocks. No matter how dense the flock, no goose ever landed on another goose.

landing snow geese

About 3:00 pm, cold and on our way back to the B&B, we spotted some tripods on a mud track, then we saw the large flock that we had been hoping to find. The “road” (Ring Lane) runs east-west and there were two flocks; one to the North and a much larger one to the South. The Southern flock was about 800 feet across and spread out for 1/4 mile running east to west and was comprised of several thousands birds. The geese were flying back and forth between the two flocks in groups of 3 to 4 to several dozen. They consistently flew east, then came around to fly northwest to join the smaller flock and then flew back the same way.

landing snow geese

We were standing watching the Southern flock, but oddly, all the tripods were pointed towards the smaller Northern flock.

photographers and snow geese flock

Suddenly, all the birds’ ¬†heads came up and everything went quiet.

snow geese flock

Then, beginning at the west end of the flock, they exploded into the air.

snow geese flock

They decided to fly due north – straight at us!

snow geese flock

snow geese flock

snow geese flock



They were going past us just above our heads and at shoulder height. Being in the middle of the sound of their flapping wings, listening to the honking and yapping was absolutely astounding. It took just 7 seconds from “all heads up” for the entire flock to become airborne. It took 20 minutes for our heart rates to return to normal.

РCal Towle. 

snow geese story pdf

Here’s the PDF that I produced for my story.

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