February 09, 2011

Snow Goose Festival Two Weeks Away

News release from the Colorado Division of Wildlife:

LAMAR, Colo. - The Ninth Annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival will again celebrate the arrival of tens of thousands of snow geese and other waterfowl during their migration through southeast Colorado.

The city of Lamar and the Colorado Division of Wildlife will co-host the activities the weekend of Feb. 24-27 throughout the city.  The popular festival is a chance to see enormous flocks of snow geese and other waterfowl in addition to a healthy number of eagles.

"This festival continues to get bigger and better every year," said John Koshak, a watchable wildlife coordinator with the DOW.  "The word is out that the migration of snow geese through southeast Colorado is one of the grand spectacles of bird migration in the western United States."

An estimated 55,000 geese and a large assortment of ducks were counted in the four counties along the lower Arkansas River last week; primarily at John Martin Reservoir and Mid Western Farms.& There are also about 15 bald eagles hanging out on the ice at John Martin Reservoir.

Festival-goers will offered guided excursions to watch magnificent flocks of snow geese take off and land as they come and go between feeding grounds and roosting sites on local reservoirs. "The sight of thousands of geese lifting off the water or circling for a landing is an unforgettable experience," said Koshak.

The weekend features a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities beginning with several special tours on Friday. Besides the attraction of seeing the geese, other highlights include guided nature walks, a craft fair, birds of prey demonstrations, lectures, nature art workshop, hunting seminars, opportunities to explore the region's museums and historic sites and a banquet.

Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, will be the keynote speaker at Saturday evening's banquet at the Elks Lodge, 28157 US Hwy 287. Gordon is a respected leader in the North American birding community. He is a widely published writer and photographer, and has entertained and educated many as a naturalist and bird guide.

In addition to a wide variety of birding and nature tours and seminars, this year's festival has added a hands-on archery shoot Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. and Western music and cowboy poetry Saturday at 3 p.m.

Participants who plan to attend the outdoor tours are urged to dress appropriately and bring layered clothing to stay warm and dry.  The weather in southeastern Colorado is difficult to predict at this time of year, so it's best to be prepared for all kinds of conditions. "We can have sunny days in the mid-60s or wet weather with some snow," said Linda Groat, a wildlife education specialist. "It's best to be prepared for everything. The temperatures can change dramatically on the sunrise tours."

Organizers also suggest bringing a camera, binoculars and a bird identification book. Groat also said the event has a variety of indoor sessions for those who might not want to brave the weather on the outdoor wildlife viewing tours.

Participants can pre-register or see the complete schedule online. To inquire about festival activities, call (719) 336-4370.

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