Greater White-fronted Goose ( Anser albatross ) & Snow Goose ( Chen caerulescens )
Season: Fall, Winter and early Spring.
Places to go: Howards Farm is located just west of where IL Route 70, or Trask Bridge Road, crosses the Pecatonica River. There is a gravel quarry on the north side of the road and a paved pullout with several parking spaces on the south side. The view is of a large expanse of floodplain with some ponds and scattered oaks and willows. The whole is fenced for cow pasture. Fallow Deer and sometimes Llamas are often present. A little farther west you can pull off the south side of the road for another view of the same farm next to an old metal gate that used to be red but is now faded orange. Different ponds and pastures are in view. The red gate spot is usually a more productive spot for unusual geese than the paved parking area.
Tips for finding and identifying: A spectacular concentration of many thousands of geese use this farm and the surrounding cornfields for parts of the winter. Mostly they are Canada and Cackling Geese. If you settle in and scan the flocks for a while you can often find a few White-fronts and Snows (White and Blue forms) as well as occasional Rosss Geese. This is a good place to work on your identification of Canada vs. Cackling Geese. Watch for Rough-legged Hawks, Harriers, and Bald Eagles.
Special cautions: This farm is strictly private property. Do not trespass. Beware the identification challenges of a smattering of domestic geese and ducks crossed and backcrossed with Canadas, Mallards and others.
Submitted by Barbara Williams