Canada Goose Running On Water (including differing perspectives)

When I’m able to capture photos like these I realize that I don’t aim my lens at Canada Geese as often as I should.

Three days ago I was at a local pond near my home in a desperate attempt to locate some interesting birds to photograph. Birds have been unusually slow around here lately but as winter finally begins to set in numbers of Common Goldeneye and Pied-billed Grebes on the pond are increasing to complement the more common American Coots and the occasional flock of Canada Geese.

I  was concentrating on goldeneye when I heard the familiar honking of geese already on the pond that often signals imminent takeoff.


1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

These were grab shots made without making any camera adjustments for my new subject. Here I like the skimming flight over the water’s surface, the monotones, the warm light, the flight posture and the water splash behind the bird that helps to tell the story of the goose taking off.



As I sometimes do I tried a different composition of the same image for another perspective. In this version the goose is smaller in the frame and even closer to the left frame edge but it includes more of the water splash which I like. I’m not sure which version I prefer but I enjoy seeing both.



1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Two frames later I caught the goose in a running pose I like very much because we see the actual source of the water splashes and I particularly enjoy the way the almost perfectly vertical right leg and foot has barely penetrated the surface of the water. This old Montana farm boy isn’t sophisticated enough to know what it’s called but something tells me there’s likely a name for this dance position in ballet or perhaps even in modern dance.

However this isn’t the image as I took it. I removed an out of focus coot at upper left.



So in the interest of full disclosure here’s the unaltered version of the image. Damn coots, sometimes I love’em and sometimes I cuss’em (usually it’s the former though…).



1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The lumbering and noisy goose did finally become airborne but there was a bright rock on the background that kind of ruined the image for me.

This was what it looked like at the pond three days ago but things have changed since then.



1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This is what greeted us here in northern Utah yesterday – overcast skies and snow. The California Gulls on the pond were having a hey-day pilfering crayfish and fish from unfortunate goldeneye and grebes. The gulls are highly skilled thieves and I often felt sorry for their victims but in better light their skirmishes would provide interesting photo-ops that I hope to pursue in the future.

And next time I won’t be so blasé about aiming my lens at Canada Geese.



34 comments to Canada Goose Running On Water (including differing perspectives)

  • Pam Skaar

    Goose pirouette? but I thought those were turning on one toe with the other leg out. I wonder if there’s a ballet name for striking that pose while moving in a straight line forward. There probably is but I’m an Odissi and belly dancer and that would be an odd move for those ethnic dance styles.

  • Carol Vavra

    Ron, I love the Canada Geese and these are beautiful pictures!

  • Betty Sturdevant

    As part of the usher staff at the local Nutcracker production I love the “Goosequacker” Ballet comment. Great laugh this morning.

  • Alice Beckcom

    Ron, you continue to show us your talents. Photos of a Canadian Goose taking off are quite interesting, as you show us the ‘steps’ taken to become airborne. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think of what they leave behind, when gathered in large numbers, that really turns me off.

    The photo of the gull is quite creative with the white on white. I think it looks great!! Too bad we didn’t get more snow…maybe next week.

    Thank you for the great photos.

  • ron

    Great shots, I never tire of Geese. My favorite sites are the sky full of long stringing vs or the abrupt tumbles they take slipping in rapid loss of altitude slipping from side to side then recovering quickly to make that glide into the water or field. They never get old.

  • IF I could fly there would be no doubt about my exultant honks at take-off. ‘Out of my way’ ‘Coming through’ ‘Wheee…’
    Monochromatic magic today. Both in sepia and then in black and white.
    Thank you. Lots.

  • Susan Stone

    Canada Geese remain one of my favorite birds (even though a friend of mine thought I couldn’t possibly mean that). They are good “people”. I love the monochromatic looks of all of these shots, and I’m glad you got rid of the blurry Coot – it hurt my eyes to see it in the picture. That said, when our park has water, we get Coots and I’m always happy to see them.

  • Loved this series…especially liked the first two with the wake arching toward the bird and the last because I think gulls are such beautiful birds…

  • Laura Culley

    Marvelous images! (Insert the usual string of ridiculously redundant superlatives here.)
    Of the first two of the Canada goose, I prefer the second, but be aware the margin of appreciation here is all but negligible. Both images are gorgeous, but I really like the second water splash a lot!
    I’m with you about the ballet pose–I’m CERTAIN there’s a word for that. I have a cousin who’s a ballet teacher. I should ask her about that. We’ll see if that happens today. My to-do list is pretty massive since I’ve had way too many unexpected distractions to really get my to-dos moved over to the to-done list! 🙂
    The white rock? Where? I don’t see it. Yes there’s a bright-ish spot there but you had to talk about it for me to see it. As always, I’m far too concentrated on the goose to be bothered by something as utterly insignificant as that!
    I’m about a skosh jealous of your snowfall! I love the image of the gull, and yes despite the thievery, which gets on my last damn nerve being a raptorphile and all. That said, the name of the game is survival of the fittest and the HOW part is not specified. You just gotta get it done.
    The snow isn’t likely to happen here, which is mostly a good thing, but I’d settle for some rain. The winds are big again today and the real estate is blowing back from where it came a couple of days ago.

  • Marty K

    That second shot makes me think of skipping stones. I love the contrast in tones between the goose and the gull. My brain could be easily convinced that you took the first shots in sepia and the last one on black and white film.

    We have so many Canada Geese and California Gulls around here year-round that they’re easy to take for granted, although I try not to. The gulls are smart (and obnoxious) enough to know all the different bell schedules at various school campuses. I used to have to close my door after nutrition and lunch because they were so noisy, although they provided some great “teachable moments” during our ecology and evolution units.

    • Marty K

      I also kinda like the shot with the coot. Even though he’s soft, he provides an audience for “The Goosecracker” ballet. 🙂

    • Amazing that your gulls down there know the time of the school bells, Marty. I’m sure we’ve both known many students who NEVER could learn how to respond to school bells in a timely fashion.

      • Marty K

        There are usually a few gulls and crows that hang out most of the day, but the big group of gulls comes flocking in at the start of nutrition and about halfway through lunch. After the HS lunch, they go over to the elementary school across the street to be ready for their lunch period and then take off in the direction of the K-8 up the road. I’ve also seen the “flight of the airpigs” between the K-8 and the HS that bookend my little neighborhood now that I’m not working.

  • April Olson

    lovely photos, the warm light on the geese is delightful. I don’t think I would have noticed the rock, but once you did like a kid my eye could only focus on it!

    I like how you captured the small fringed edge on the leading edge of the gulls wing. I have notice many birds have these small feathers and only in certain flight positions they frill out. It is usually in a hover or braking position as above on the gull. I wonder if they are a slowing down mechanism for the birds

  • Judy Gusick

    Absolutely Stunning! 🙂 Another case of the camera capturing the details that aren’t so obvious just looking! The warm background REALLY sets off the goose and the “ballet” pose is priceless. The Canada Geese are common, BUT! The blues/grays and snow really set off the “damn” gull” as they are often called along with “damn coot”. 🙂 Predicted snow didn’t really materialize here tho further south I suspect they got some. Could use the moisture for sure……….

    • “The Canada Geese are common, BUT!”

      Exactly, Judy. There’s nothing at all wrong with common, in fact some of my very favorite birds fit in that category. However, I’ll have to admit that there are a few common species that I ignore far too often and that’s a lesson I continue to learn the hard way (missed opportunities).

      We didn’t get much snow but the little we did get is a hopeful sign.