Apr 15, 2010

The Flight of the Snow Geese

by Des and Jen Bartlett

This is the backstory of a filming project: following the life cycle of the snow goose from eggs hatching on the northern tundra to their migration south where they winter in Texas, and back again in spring. The resulting documentary was a TV special called The Incredible Flight of the Snow Geese which I've never seen (it's pretty old, made in the late seventies). While the film crew was on site in Alaska and northern Canada specifically to observe snow geese, they also photographed myriads of other waterfowl and seabirds, and sometimes encountered other animals: foxes, lemmings, polar bears. At first the narrative is all about their experience in cold weather, difficulties moving equipment and finding ways to approach the birds close enough without scaring them off. But then they start to pick up abandoned goslings, birds that usually would succumb to predators. Soon they had ten baby geese to hand-raise, and a sandhill crane chick. These birds readily imprinted on the team and followed them everywhere; while they were thrilled to observe the birds' development up-close, it also made their project more difficult as they had to keep the geese from accompanying them to blinds where they sat in absolute stillness for hours to watch birds on nests. When the time came to follow the snow goose migration back south, the young snow geese, crane, and a rescued canada goose all came along. Eventually the birds were found homes in wildlife sanctuaries, and the geese finally joined a wild flock. While the writing was a bit bland, very straightforward, it was still interesting. I always wonder when watching wildlife documentaries what exactly the filmmakers have to go through to get such amazing shots; The Flight of the Snow Geese gives a little insight into it all, even though I'm sure some techniques have changed a lot in thirty-odd years. All the time I was reading this I kept thinking of that fantastic film Winged Migration. Have any of you seen it? It took my breath away.

I got this book free from The Book Thing.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 189 pages, 1975

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

This is perfect for this time of year. There is a Canada goose all alone in our neighborhood and we're all worried about it.