Goose Chase at Hendrie Valley

In the spring many bird species are migrating and finding mates. This can create some aggressive bird behaviour. During a recent visit to Hendrie Valley I had the opportunity to photograph a goose chase. This article shares a selection of eleven consecutive images.

While it is difficult to predict bird behaviour, during the springtime Canada geese tend to be aggressive defending their mates.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

Whenever I see a lone goose in reasonable proximity to a pair of Canada geese during this time period, I assume there is a chance some action may erupt.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

Typically these interactions are very brief in nature and only last for a second or two.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

It is important to have your camera gear at-the-ready, with your lens pre-focused.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

When photographing this type of action sequence some patience is required as an outburst of this nature doesn’t happen frequently.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

It is dependent on the temperament of individual birds, the bond between a mating pair, and the proximity of lone male birds.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

As photographers we often focus our attention on less common bird species, causing us to miss these types of action images with everyday birds like Canada geese.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-360

It is important to remember not to fire off your AF-C run too early.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-360

It is common that a goose defending its mate will identify a potential rival that is a reasonable distance away. The more aggressive the temperament of the defending goose, the further away it will pursue a potential rival.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-360

It will start honking, sticking out it tongue and racing across the surface of the water before the other goose even realizes it has been targeted.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-360

As the defending goose closes in there’s usually a second or so when they are close enough together to frame some decent images. Using a fast AF-C frame rate can help capture some interesting wing positions.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258 mm, efov 696.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-360

As the attack ends, the pursuing goose will often bank away or extend its winds to slow down. This often generates some of the most interesting photographs.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection. Images were cropped to 3700 pixels in width, then resized for web use.

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