Snow Geese at Gunnison Bend

April 11, 2018



Photographer: Ray Boren 
Summary Author: Ray Boren 

About the same time every year, when hints of Spring tease us in late-February, I drive a few hours southwest of my Salt Lake City home to Delta, Utah, where migrating snow geese gather — often in a spectacle of thousands — on Gunnison Bend Reservoir just west of town.

The little artificial lake, named for 19th-century U.S. Army topographical surveyor and explorer Capt. John Willams Gunnison, who was attacked and killed by Indians nearby in 1853, is a last-chance opportunity to retain and deploy the meager water of the Sevier River. The serpentine Sevier rises among the plateaus and mountains near Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. The river trickles (for it is never a particularly large stream) some 279 miles (449 km) through several agricultural valleys before it disappears, as Great Basin rivers tend to do, in the thirsty sagebrush desert, never making it to an ocean. The Sevier rarely or barely seems to reach its ostensible destination: Intermittent — and usually dry — endorheic, or terminal, Sevier Lake and its playa.

The photograph above captures just a portion of the thousands of snow geese that spectacularly rose en-masse, for no reason obvious to me, in late-afternoon light on Feb. 16, 2018. They simply flew to the far side of the pond and landed on the water. The snow geese, and other birds migrating north to Canada after spending the Winter in Mexico and southern California, rest and recuperate for a few weeks on and near the reservoir, which is convenient to the inland Great Basin route of the Patagonia-to-Alaska Pacific Flyway. The bottom photo, taken the same afternoon, illustrates the mostly agricultural setting, showing a farmstead across Gunnison Bend from a recreational neighborhood called Sherwood Shores.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: NIKON D3200; Exposure Time: 0.0020s (1/500); Aperture: ƒ/11.0; ISO equivalent: 140; Focal Length (35mm): 750; Bottom - same except: ISO equivalent: 250; Focal Length (35mm): 525.