Montana Outdoors

March 20, 2011

“Where the wild goose goes…”

Filed under: Spring — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 10:48 pm

Several days ago, as the clouds filtered the last rays of the sun just before it hid behind the mountains, this pair of Canadian Geese shot past me headed down river. The light was bad and the geese were flying very fast and low over the water but I chanced a photo. It’s not a very good one and I didn’t post it then, yet it stayed on my mind.

Canadian Geese

Perhaps because it has been a late spring and the winter was a cold and hard one, as I sensed the wild freedom of that pair of geese, they seemed to speak to me; an invitation to the wild country; and I was reminded of the lyrics of a song that has haunted me most of my life:

“My heart knows what the wild goose knows,
And I must go where the wild goose goes.
Wild goose, brother goose, which is best?
A wanderin’ foot or a heart at rest?”

~ Lyrics from The Cry of the Wild Goose ~


  1. I think you have the wanderin’ foot, right?


    Comment by Candace — March 21, 2011 @ 12:29 am

    • Right! When they are headed for the back country, I want to go!


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  2. No wonder the image kept coming back to you. It all ties together perfectly. Here’s more inspiration from Frankie Lane Wow that goes way back!


    Comment by anniespickns — March 21, 2011 @ 6:53 am

    • I think he released the song in the late 40’s or early 50’s. I really enjoyed reading a comment on that link that was made by “GoatBeach” who commented: “My Dad played this 78 over and over…one of my best memories. Played it for him on his death bed, hoped he flew with that Wild Goose…”


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  3. I remember the lyrics. Funny how I had forgotten — then again, not funny. The geese headed down river, late in the evening — feeding, finding their mates, perhaps? Who knows? Only the wild goose knows.


    Comment by Jack Matthews — March 21, 2011 @ 7:32 am

    • I loved those lyrics and especially the spirit that they suggest. I hope we never lose the spirit of the wild lands that the wild goose represents!


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  4. Not a very good photo? Oh, I don’t know about that. Under the circumstances I would call it pretty darned impressive. Glad you decided to post it.


    Comment by Dave at collinda — March 21, 2011 @ 7:36 am

    • Thanks Dave! The fading light was the biggest problem. I used spot metering which seems to have done well, but I limit the ISO because the D80 doesn’t do well with high ISO’s so I was stuck with 1/80 second exposure.


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  5. Beautiful and appropriate post this time of year. The photo captures the essence of the poem.


    Comment by Maureen — March 21, 2011 @ 9:12 am

    • Thanks Maureen! It’s good to hear from you! The geese do evoke that feeling this time of year especially, then again in the fall.


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  6. It is hard to photograph flying birds as I had tried not long ago to photograph an escaping red-tailed hawk. I hope to get more practice at a wildlife refuge of the migrating birds now flying in several weeks from now. Love the lyrics of the poem!


    Comment by Anna — March 21, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    • I’ve had limited success at catching them in flight too. Practice would certainly help. Photographing at a refuge is a good idea.


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  7. I think the photo turned out great!!


    Comment by Barbara — March 21, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  8. I like this very much!!


    Comment by mitambien — March 21, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  9. Hi Montucky, I am ever so thrilled by your wonderful photo of the Canada Geese in flight! I think it is good. Have a great evening tonight and a fun-filled Tues. tomorrow!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — March 21, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    • Thanks! I hope you have a great day too! (We’re supposed to have snow tomorrow.)


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

  10. I think it is really good. You must have panned the camera to get the geese so sharp. I have only been able to get that right once.


    Comment by sandy — March 21, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

    • Yes, I panned: they were moving fast. I’ve read that they can fly as fast as 55mph, and these were doing at least that. I used my usual setup with spot metering and small area focus. It’s a challenge to keep on the target, but the results can be good. The problem here was the low light requiring a slow shutter speed (1/80th sec.).


      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  11. Great shot of the canada geese. I had no idea they could fly 55 mph, but I do know they are sure hard to photograph. Great job. And I agree about following the wild too–with wandering feet. 🙂


    Comment by Bo Mackison — March 21, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

    • They look slow when they are in their “V” formations high up, but when they fly close to the water they really move! During migration times we get a lot of late evening or early morning traffic from them and their sounds then are especially haunting.


      Comment by montucky — March 22, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  12. I like both the photo and the poem. Thanks for sharing them. I see these geese when we head up to the family farm in north Georgia. Hard to get pix.


    Comment by knightofswords — March 22, 2011 @ 11:33 am

    • It’s kind of funny: the geese are wild as they can be here along the river, but on the shores of Flathead Lake they get as tame as house pets.


      Comment by montucky — March 22, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  13. I agree with other folks, this is a great shot, montucky. Happy wandering!


    Comment by farmhouse stories — March 22, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    • Thanks Cait! I’m anxious to get up on the trails again.


      Comment by montucky — March 22, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  14. A challenging shot and a successful one too! Wow… that’s an old memory!! They don’t make many songs like that any more. 😉


    Comment by kcjewel — March 22, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

    • No, they don’t make songs like that now. Too simple and plain for these times I suppose.


      Comment by montucky — March 22, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

  15. Sometimes the photos that aren’t perfect are the best ones. This is a wonderful example. The fact that you caught this on such short notice and the raw, intense, beauty that is framed so well. I really liked the way it turned out.


    Comment by Wild_Bill — March 22, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    • Thanks Bill. I think you used the right word, “intense”. It’s the way I like to think of these birds.


      Comment by montucky — March 22, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  16. Fantastic panning effect. And – yes – I have to agree with you. There is something that is almost like the call to the wild..of spring freedom in these flying geese.


    Comment by Marcie — March 23, 2011 @ 5:30 am

    • Thanks Marcie. I enjoy knowing that there is still that kind of freedom, at least for them.


      Comment by montucky — March 23, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  17. Hmmm, I don’t guess I’ve ever heard the song, but that’s a KILLER SHOT! I love how everything in the shot is blurred, except the main subjects… the geese! It’s beautiful! =)


    Comment by Tricia — March 23, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    • Thanks Tricia. I wasn’t too pleased with it, but it does emphasize the birds and that was what I wanted.


      Comment by montucky — March 23, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  18. Ohhh I just listened to the song on YouTube & it IS haunting… love those mysterious old song! =)


    Comment by Tricia — March 23, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

    • That was one of the songs I grew up with. It caught my fancy then and I’ve always felt a part of it.


      Comment by montucky — March 23, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  19. Ah, but a goose wouldn’t leave his mate (Canadian geese mate for life you know!). That aside, the song is haunting and I think your photo is beautiful.


    Comment by kateri — March 24, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

    • Thanks Kateri. That’s one of the many things I like about Canadian Geese.


      Comment by montucky — March 24, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  20. It is a good photo. I like to see the speed of geese. Great lyrics You found to complete Your photo.


    Comment by sartenada — March 25, 2011 @ 12:27 am

    • I find Canadian Geese very interesting. They are arriving here now for the summer and are starting to select their nesting areas. I hope to get some photos later when the little ones hatch.


      Comment by montucky — March 25, 2011 @ 9:21 am

  21. Beautiful image Terry….


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — March 25, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  22. I can see why the photo stayed on your mind… it gives a wonderful sense of motion and flying free… the words of the song have often resonated with me also.


    Comment by Victoria — March 26, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  23. “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring…a migrating goose, staking 200 miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no chance for easy retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.”
    Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac


    Comment by Kim — March 28, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  24. It’s a terrific book. If you haven’t already read it, it’s way better than Walden. At least way more readable. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I’ve always felt an affinity for Leopold and his writings.


    Comment by Kim — March 29, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

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