Burt’s Bees Please

I predicted it – we’ve come to the end of this short month and I’m scrambling to hit my monthly quota. Hats off to my fellow bloggers that are far more productive than I am – not to mention those dedicated souls that are releasing content daily. I need at least one if not two really long runs between posts just to figure out what my next topic is going to be. Luckily I managed to get a decent 9.5 mile run in yesterday that resulted in this bundle of cuteness being selected to close out February.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Not sure what the key trigger was, but somewhere in the fog of fatigue I remembered our trip to Las Vegas in February 2020 – possibly thinking about warmer climates being confronted with unexpected snow/ice on the difficult ascents and descents where I was training. That led to remembering I had not processed a single picture from that trip – thousands of pictures just sitting there alone in a cold dark folder in a long forgotten drive hoping with all their bits to be found and presented to the world – yeah, my mind is all over the place when trying to forget that my legs aren’t lounging on the beach sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Hit the jump for more background on our extremely cute Goose.

Anyway, that led to remembering we made the obligatory trip to Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve 22 minutes outside of Las Vegas. I’ve talked a lot about how great that place is for desert birding thanks to the numerous pond magnets that draw quite a collection of species from the arid surroundings. The inhabitants are also conditioned to noise being in the flight path for McCarran International Airport (no, I refuse to dignify that liar of a politician Harry Reid). Comforting to know accidentally stepping on a twig wouldn’t spook everything in a 100 yard radius drawing the ire of tripod brandishing visitors. Just to complete the thought progression, the snow underfoot reminded me of Snow Geese, that reminded me of what usually hangs out in their large flocks – the adorable Ross’s Goose (for the record, shouldn’t that be Ross’ Goose – just saying). The challenge is the Ross’s look very similar to a Snow Goose. For reference, here is what the Snow looks like.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

It was noted in the visitor center’s sightings board that a Ross’s was there. I even verified with the resident naturalist if that was a confirmed find. Linda noticed my excitement meter peg at the response and we scurried out the door to tin it. Sure enough, we located a small flock of Snow Geese hanging out at one of their back ponds. Immediately started taking shots of each one, zooming into the back LCD, cursing and then repeating the process. Linda found a distant bench under some shade – this was going to be a while. Eventually began running out of good curse words and was delving to old school “Rat Farts” when I hit jackpot (thus the “distant” bench ha). There was the tell-tale clue on the side of the bill! – or should I say what was NOT found…

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Backing up, when shooting Snow Geese (like the one above), I always expect to see a giant chewed on stogie hanging out of their bill. The Snow has a very noticeable gap where the bill meets on the side. Just in case you might have difficulties picking that out from afar, they put on a healthy coating of black lip gloss so there is no mistaking their allegiance to all things goth. Now let’s contrast that with the sugar pop variety.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

If you zoom into the Ross’s bill you will see a very slight gap where the bill meets – they also prefer Burt’s Bees lip gloss so their pinkish bill coloring shoes through. Word has it they also abhor cigar smoke in their feathers.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

The base of their bill is also …hmmm… let’s go with smudgy where the Snow’s keep a much more consistent tone from bill to head. There are a couple more indicators that fall into the relative classification. Since we are on topic of bills, the first one you might have noticed is the Snow bill is proportionally longer in relationship to the width of the head.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Unscientifically (read as using thumb and first finger – science, people!), the Snow’s bill length is closer to the width of the head profile where the Ross’s comes in around half. Truth is the Ross’s Goose is smaller all around than the other species, which is likely why they are so much cuter (that and the whole cigar thingie is a turnoff). Again, the relative sizing only really works in the field when you happen to have both in the same frame. That leaves you with the snap, zoom, check for black lipstick, repeat until you find the Ross’s and then start snapping like a bowl of Rice Krispies.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Ross’s Geese breed exclusively in the Arctic, but apparently not too keen on staying up there for the winter months. They head down into southern US/upper Central America to enjoy significantly warmer climates. One branch heads to California, one to New Mexico, and another into a larger span down through Missouri to Texas. Honestly I do not know what the hell is going on with a small region on the coast of North Carolina. There isn’t even a migration path noted to that destination. Apparently just a jump to the left, a step to the right, wings on hips, stubby knees in tight and a thrust of the tail feathers and poof, you are in NC.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

“Hey, did you just call my legs stubby!?!”

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

“Sorry, sorry, meant stubby bill, yeah, bill, that’s the ticket”. For being such a cute looking bird, they can be a bit feisty. “While I have your attention, can you tell me how you really get to North Carolina – seems to be a bit of a mystery”

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

There isn’t much in the way of interesting background for these pink nosed snowballs. Based on Cornell’s site, flocks of these (and Snow Geese) can strip a large swath of vegetation down to the dirt. A bit concerning purely based on the massive wintering Snowie flocks I’ve witnessed (10-80+K link here). Would not want a flock to glide over, spot my lawn and start screaming “Mudstock!”.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Did Notice there was a small group of Ross’s hanging a bit away from the others. When I took a closer look in the digital darkroom, I noticed one of the three had some black highlights on the side and back of the head. Curious, I checked out the juvenile feathering and learned they do have dusky highlights they transition out of as they move into adulthood. Snows go through a similar transition, although they seem to have a lot more coloring at this stage than the Ross’s juvi. This one was just about to the full adult feathering.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Grabbed a quick shot of the Snow juvi I also found at Henderson to give you a feel for their pre-adult state.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

A quick note on these shots – none of them were taken with The Beast. It isn’t very often I am out in the field without my trusty glass. In fact, there really is only one place where this really happens and that is Vegas. The Beast does not fly well, it becomes cranky with the tight seats, bad air and gets the other passengers “all agitated like” when it starts screaming “There are gremlins on the wing!” We find it best if we just leave it home on those trips. There’s a reason why I am willing to do this and it has a name, “B&C Camera”. Linda found this place several years ago when we were considering renting extra glass to take out there. After assessing the effort to get the glass mailed out there ahead of our trip and then returned, she had a great idea to check if there were places in Vegas to rent directly. Sure enough, there was one conveniently located off the strip on the way to our preferred stay, Red Rock Casino – as many times as we’ve been out there, the strip no longer holds our interest.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

I rented a non-Nikon 600mm the previous year. Wasn’t happy with that, so this trip opted for Nikon’s latest upgrade to The Beast – now comes with a matched 1.5 tele built directly into the glass – flip a lever and you could add or take away the tele without the tedious glass removal (and contamination risk). Don’t tell The Beast this, but it was a trial to see if I wanted to <whisper> upgrade </whisper>. “Upgrade, I didn’t say upgrade, Linda did you say upgrade, nope nobody said upgrade, simmer down Beast.” Beast: “Fstop you!”

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

I definitely needed more time with the trial glass. Cherished the additional reach and the arms really appreciated the lighter frame. Unfortunately, the shots didn’t come out as crisp as I wanted. One weekend with a new glass is not a fair assessment and likely the next time out there I’ll give it another go. For now, The Beast is going nowhere (come over her boy, you deserve a little scratch behind the ear). It is nice not to fret about my baby getting messed up in transit and The Beast did get to meet new friends at the kennel so “win win”.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Thought I would close with a shot that made me chuckle while processing it. I feel sorry for their goslings – their parents REALLY DO have eyes in the back of their head!!

Will call it a post there – just barely under the wire, but enjoyed going back through the Vegas shots – even managed to find a new bird I didn’t even know I had in the tin yet – YEAH! (more on that next month). Take care everyone and speaking of imprecise “political”-science, poof, masks gone thanks to the upcoming SotU and all the democrat governors called out holding their recent gathering in the free state of Florida.

24 thoughts on “Burt’s Bees Please”

  1. You want in on a little secret, that’s not so secret? I dropped my NRA membership I had to have to belong to a local range because the NRA endorsed Harry Reid. I have values. I can’t be a member of the shooting range without an NRA membership, so I’m not a member of either. Beautiful snow geese. Canon just announced 800mm and 1200mm lenses for their mirrorless cameras. The 1200mm is only $20,000. I like my 400mm bazooka in a 300mm body. It’s lightweight and easy to handle. The Canon 600mm lens is a missile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been hot and cold with the NRA. Not a big fan of Wayne and admittedly didn’t know they endorsed that loser. I had a chance a while back to become a lifetime member – I refused choosing the one or two year options as that was the only way I could voice my opinion – do something I do not approve and it doesn’t get renewed until the gun control advocates start up and again and then I sign up again (and buy more products in response). Totally lost when they sent me a knife with made in China stamped on it. I get the feeling they are going to try and force me to mirrorless in the not too distant future. Right now I have no interest in buying new glass…but that 1200..hmmmmm, now that has the juices flowing. Thanks for dropping Timothy – hope those Owls are getting busy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got my first mirrorless camera in 2009 and I’ve had three since then. Nikon and Canon were late in the mirrorless game, but once they figured out by using marketing smoke and mirrors, instead of mirrors and pentaprizms, they could charge more for bodies that cost them much less to produce, they went hog wild on mirrorless. I don’t think they have made great advances in the areas of fast focusing. But my experience with mirrorless is that wildlife has to be very slow or dead, or the mirrroless cameras will not focus on it. Slow focus was the biggest complaint in reviews of the Hasselblad mirrorless camera. Pay $10K to $15K for the name and still get slow focus? Compact mirroless were great for me for carry cameras, but they have been replaced by my iPhone 13 Pro. Otherwise, I’m sticking to mirrored DSLRs. When Canon phased out the 5Ds 50 mpx body, regularly $3200, I got one on closeout from B&H for $1200. I use a 7D MkII crop sensor with my 400mm Bazooka making it a 640mm Bazooka.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I haven’t dug to much into the mirrorless yet – per your info, a slow focus is a non-starter for me as most of my time is spent in the field and I do not have enough sway to make my subjects stay put. Nice deal on that Canon body. Right now I am running a Nikon D7500 cropped sensor on with my Beast (200-400). Heavy rig, but it has never let me down.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! The photos of the geese are gorgeous! We used to see Canada geese on the national mall when I lived in DC, but I have never seen a Ross’s goose or a snow goose. They are amazing and beautiful! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you liked it Cheryl. We tend to get one or two large migrations of Snow Geese coming through locally as they head through to the south (last one was probably close to 60K). I heard them last night passing over about midnight last night and noticed a small flock flying over this morning – enjoy seeing their white wings with the black tips flying effortlessly in their meandering lines (not neat looking Vs like the Canada Geese. Hopefully some day you will get to see a Ross’s – even cuter in person than my shots turned out. Take care Cheryl and keep looking to the sky.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome and cute and informative, what more could I ask for with my afternoon coffee break! Oh yeah, references to Twilight Zone and Rocky Horror Picture Show! In our current tense situation here in the EU/NATO it was a wonderful escape, thanks “B”!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, I always aim to please! figured people might get the Rocky reference, but kudos for picking out the Twilight Zone – well done. I like to test my audience and you passed with flying colors. Not sure what to think about this Ukraine thing beyond my distaste for aggressive nuke wielding superpowers in general. This is twice now for Russia that completely violated the conditions that got Ukraine to eliminate their nuclear arsenal (aggression forbidden by those who signed agreement – then again it is just paper). Then I start reading story after story about countries killing their own independence and becoming dependent on/propping up Russian products/economy and it turns a bit sour. Sitting back and watching this one play out and praying it doesn’t extend to the nearby countries. Stay safe and I’ll do my best to bring you more entertainment in this new month.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi B. In Europe life is starting to get scary, very scary. Not sure what your news teams report but the BBC is keeping us right up to date 24/7. Yes Countries ‘sold their souls’ and bought russian (no capital r) gas and oil which supported this lunatic regime (I’m also led to believe a certain ex US president was quite chummy with the moscow madman) but this is no time to throw stones or point finger’s of blame. What is happening is horrific with civilians being bombed night and day and over a million so far fleeing in terror and last night the crazies shelling Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant which if the wrong part was hit would have wiped out much of our Continent. This is getting serious, the madman has already hinted that any intervention would result in a nuclear response and you know what? I believe he would, in fact I can see him waving this big stick until he actually does it!
        These are very dark times and just as frightening as the Cuba crisis was in ’62 or Prague in ’68. In 2022 I never thought I would live in such fear again. It’s good to get out in nature for a while to take my mind of things but I want my daughter to have a future not live in a nuclear wasteland. It is getting THAT worrying.
        Keep safe B

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Unfortunately our lamestream news is filtered through a propaganda and sensationalism lens before being presented for public consumption here. I do get some feeds from more reliable sources (NOT CNN) and it definitely does look concerning. Our last president was forced to sit this one out because the party that spied on a sitting president tricked the American public into thinking they were putting the “grown ups” back in charge. Instead we got a fool that has been in the WH for TWO Putin invasions (and referred to the Ukrainians as Iranians in the SOTU address) and a mental midget that gives us brilliant insights like this “So, Ukraine is a country in Europe. It exists next to another country called Russia, Russia is a bigger country. Russia is a powerful country. Russia decided to invade a smaller country called Ukraine. So, basically, that’s wrong, and it goes against everything that we stand for.” This is also the administration that killed our energy independence and wants us to be concerned about Ukraine’s national border while they purposely turned our southern border into a sieve. Not sure what the outcome is going to be and currently too far away to feel the level of concern you are seeing first hand, but it is NOT assuring to have our current leaders attempting to navigate the turmoil of geopolitical waters. Like you stated, Putin is not someone you underestimate when it comes to what line(s) he is willing to cross. Will be thinking of you and your family.

          Like

  4. Very pretty goose. Almost monochromatic images, with colorization for the bill and feet.
    Apparently you and I remember the same rules for grammar for possessives when the subject ends in an “S”. Having a last name that ends in “S”, I had it drilled in that the possessive apostrophe went after the last “S” with NOTHING ELSE! More recent (aka. lazier?) grammarians added the “S” after the “S” for possessives. One less rule to remember when EVERYTHING gets and apostrophe AND another letter “S” on the end. Depending on your age, both are accurate I’m told. Sort of like the extra comma when listing a series of objects being removed now. (used to be A, B, and C; now it’s just A, B and C) You can hardly keep up with the grammar players without an “Elements of Style” (apologies to Strunk & White).
    LOVED the over the shoulder “Whatchoo lookin’ at?” glare from behind! Reminds me of the look pre-teenagers give when they realize you can hear them talking (prior to them learning how to text without mouthing the words).
    You have given me pause about air travel with my big glass. I plan to have it as my carry-on item, is that not a good idea? Do I have to buy a seat for the glass too? I’m certainly not checking that item as baggage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, I’m not going crazy – it just gets ridiculous if you drop that rule and you start doing possessive possessives as in the Ross’s’ or hell the Ross’s’s stubby feet. On the other front, I am NOT and Oxford comma guy. When I went through grammar schooling they insisted no extra ‘,’ so I must fit the new school model there. People I worked with would use that and I’d internally cringe. I actually have the Handbook of Current English (7th ed) by Corder and Ruszkiewicz sitting on my shelf near my desk – ONLY time you will ever see me go near it is when I reach for the CRC Standard Mathematical Tables book sitting right next to it hehehe. I graduated from the U of I’s College of Engineering, we get a pass on English ha!
      Fortunately, I didn’t have to live through the teenage angst years – heard those can be a nightmare for parents (especially daughters.. just saying). Traveling with big glass has always been a hassle, but especially now with all the space crunch. They ALWAYS trying to get me to check it as I board the plane and I ALWAYS have the discussion if they are willing to take responsibility for $10K+ camera equipment. That ALWAYS ends with, oh, you should take that with you. Then I have to find a an overhead compartment that has just enough space to fit The Beast so no one else tries to jam their suitcases on it. Rest of the trip I keep an eye on it to make sure no one is up messing around in it. Adds some stress to the trip, but not as much as if they were to make me leave it out of sight. So far it has always arrived fine, but not having to worry about any of it was pretty nice as well.

      Like

      1. I still have my CRC, somewhere, probably next to my grandfathers engineering books from the 1930’s when he taught at Iowa State before and during The War. I have a story about that form some other non-public forum.
        We must have been just far enough apart in school (geography and timeline) because they were still selling extra commas “back in the day”.
        The distance and duration are not as important as the first outdoor bicycle ride of the year a couple of days ago! 60F on March 1 where we live! Can’t pass that up. (was snowing again this morning)
        Oh, and I’ve been told I can buy whatever size glass I want, I just have to reduce my inventory by one to make room for it. So I say go for the 1200mm glass!!! (and sell that 35mm f/5.6 sitting in the closet) That way I might be able to borrow it sometime. Hehehe.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, we went to 63 and even though I was still feeling the effects of the first shingles shot I wasn’t going to miss getting miles in. Will be nice once the trails firm up so I can get off the road! I think that buy one remove one applies to you – so I will definitely put my name on the list to borrow your 1200mm!!!!

          Like

  5. You’re on a roll with this post! ROTFL! Enjoyed learning about the Ross’s Goose. And I loved the leading shot where the light from behind makes him look like he’s floating on glowing honey. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sam! Admittedly a bit rushed with this one – not only did I have to get a post done in the closing minutes of the month, I had to squeeze in a 9+ mile run just to figure out what I was going to feature. Ah, the stress of a retired blogger. Went back and looked at that first shot – you are right, that does look like glowing honey – the angle of the light bouncing off the slightly algea’d water produced that nice effect. As always, appreciate you taking the time to drop in and join the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These are incredible photographs! I enjoyed them very much! A few days ago I saw two Snow geese for the first time in my life. I didn’t meet yet a Ross goose. Thank you for making me smile while watching these amazing birds.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Congratulations Kaya! Did any of them have a cigar hanging out of their bills hehehe. Keep looking for the Ross’s, they are certainly worth the extra effort they take to find. As mentioned above, be sure and scan the bills of any of the larger Snow Geese flocks you come upon as they tend to have one or two in the midst (looks like you encountered a pretty small group). Have a great rest of your week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lisa! We’ve slowly been hitting most of the spots around Vegas as that is our hub when we head out west. Gets us relatively close to Utah and the surrounding western states where we can branch out and enjoy the scenery .. and birds, of course. Linda being the landscape photographer in the family is very fond of Zion, Valley of Fire, Red Rocks etc. Add in the birding hotspots around there and we have a great time even when the sun drops and we hit the casinos and shows. Appreciate you dropping in and checking out the cute little Ross’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love all these photos and a new bird for me to look for as well. I really like the 3rd to last photo with the spark of sunlight kissing the water as if the bird is looking right at it. I am a sparkle nut, sparkles on water stops me in my tracks and I get mesmerized. I just love your play on words, this week it is, snapping like rice krispies and Fstop you, I will be using those terms in the field. 🙂 I came across my first flock of snow geese in Louisiana and it took my breath away. I have always wanted to see a flock like that and flying together in a field. I will have a small snippet of it in next weeks video. It is a sight to see and the sound they make all flying together is something. But I would not want them flying over my yard either, 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Sandra! Apologies for the late response, I’ve been a bit bogged down as of late and finally got the last of a set of posts for the mothership finally published. Feel free to use any of my usually obscure references – you might get some strange looks. especially on the ridiculous amount of old movie references I scatter about. It is quite hard to really capture the experience of a massive Snow Geese launch – not only is there a woosh of sound, but I swear it creates a vacuum with all their wing beats. Hope you are having fun on you current trip – still amazes me the number of places in the US you still can’t Internet access from. At first I get annoyed with the lack of access, then realize it is my chance to become untethered and just enjoy nature without all the distractions… then I want to tell everyone about what a great time I had and then the cycle starts over again ha! Appreciate you coming by Sandra.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s