LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Every year around this time, Midstaters can see an amazing migration on the Lancaster/Lebanon County line as Snow Geese head for the Arctic. The key is to catch it before they take off.
It’s pre-dawn. It’s still, but not silent. Visitors flock to Middle Creek in Snyder County for the annual air show. Hundreds of thousands of snow geese headed for breeding grounds in the north, with a pit stop on the Lancaster/Lebanon line.
Lauren Ferreri manages Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.
“Kind of a perfect storm that we have here. We have the lake for them to roost on right in their flyway and all of the agricultural fields here provide for a lot of food,” Ferreri said.
There’s a traffic jam on this arctic express and the fliers are heavy on the horns.
“They start talking a little to each other like ‘are we going, yeah are we going? are you sure? are we going?’ and the louder they get the more you know they’re going to take off,” one Middle Creek observer said.
Typically photographers from across the globe come to capture this scene. But this year, the pandemic has clipped their wings. Fortunately, Keaton Weaver, of Lebanon, made it.
“have tree on left hand side of the frame. There they go, yep. Birds swarming load,” Weaver said.
Ferreri shares what’s like once the feathery travelers take flight.
“Especially when they take off, it’s deafening,” Ferreri said. “It’s hard to wrap your mind around what you’re actually seeing because there are that many birds.”
One woman says the moment the Snow Geese take off, and the wave of emotion that follows.
“I’ve had people, it brings tears to their eyes because it touches them spiritually,” Emily Carter-Mitchell, a nature and wildlife photographer, said.
The real question is how long will this show last? It is a very limited engagement. A few weeks, maybe less.
“They have that internal clock that’s ticking and they want to get back to their breeding grounds as fast as possible,” Ferreri said.
In a year when nothing has been routine, it’s comforting to see some creatures staying on schedule — doing what they always do as they’ve always done it. On this day, the sun made a majestic entrance and the moon refused to say goodnight.
But neither was the most-watched-thing in the sky.
“You believe in God again almost. You believe anything can happen. It’s jst magical, truly magical,” one woman said.