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Monday, November 29, 2021
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How Photographer Ryan Grennan Landed a Once-in-a-Lifetime Wildlife Shot

A flock of more than 1,000 snow geese landed right in his Rensselaer County backyard.

Living in the Capital Region affords us many opportunities to connect with nature. The Hudson Valley, Catskills and Adirondacks are all just a short drive away, but sometimes it’s the places even closer to home where we are able to find the most magic. Reichards Lake, a small lake in Rensselaer County, is that place for me.

One such occasion came in December 2017, when a flock of snow geese made a surprise visit during their annual migration south. On the evening of their arrival, my wife noticed a large number of geese flying in strange formations and landing on the lake after dark. We assumed they were Canada geese, which are very common locally. The next morning, just after sunrise, I looked at the lake as I was heading off to work. More than 1,000 snow geese had stayed the night, and were spread out over the half-frozen lake.

I quickly pulled over, grabbed my camera and walked through the light snow to my neighbor’s dock, hoping not to spook the geese. I wasn’t dressed for the mid-teens temperatures of the morning, and the low light was less than ideal, but I realized this was most likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I attempted to do the best I could with what I had. After settling in and watching the geese for more than a half hour, I noticed a “blue goose” (a.k.a. dark morph snow goose) near the front of the group. Fortunately, it decided to stand up, allowing me to focus on it with the rest of the white geese in the background and take a very memorable photograph. 

See more of Ryan’s photography at @rwgrennan on Instagram.

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