This is the 13th Anniversary of the Galveston FeatherFest and Nature PhotoFest. You are allowed to submit 2 pictures a week for four weeks. There are three places per week with the winner being eligible for the grand overall winner. It’s been a trying year for me and I haven’t been able to get out and take pictures like I usually do. So I struggled to make my selections for each week. It doesn’t help being your own worst critic. I hesitated so much I missed the first week deadline. I was definitely in a flux.
I had been sick for over a month and was slowly trying to get over it but just couldn’t shake a nagging cough. I told my wife the tides were going to be perfect on Bolivar flats with a clear blue sky. She said to go. We were suppose to have already left for my mother in-law’s. Mind you now it’s 04:00 Christmas eve morning and I’m struggling – cough, cough, cough. I knew there was no way I could lay down in the watery muck with the temperatures in the low 30’sF. I struggled again asking myself do I really need to get out. It would be so much better to get back in bed because that is what I really needed.
Plan B goes into effect. I was pulling myself all the way as I loaded up and set off for Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. The geese, it was all about the geese. I had seen some recent pictures and hoped they would still be there. When I arrived it was pitch black with beautiful stars above. Deciding to take a particular route I lowered my window and slowly made my way forward. I was trying my best to listen to get some indication where they were. The chill in the air was dang cold, cough, cough, cough.
Finally I could hear them but couldn’t see them. I cranked up my ISO in my camera and took a blurred but viewable shot. Bingo, I could see them and make out where I wanted to stop. After stopping I slowly slipped out of my truck. Took my equipment and set up in front of my truck hoping for a little warmth from the engine. Didn’t happen. Did I say it was cold? Even though I had my heavy jacket on I was cold. Cough, cough, cough, water, cough drop.
As darkness slowly faded away it was a sight to see. The fields where full of geese into the distance. Daylight was fast approaching when silence gave way to distant guns. Seemed like hunters were everywhere just off the refuge. Some geese in the distance where lifting but trying to find another landing area. It sounded like roaring trains. The ones in front of me were getting restless as the noise level started picking up.
I knew it was just a matter of time. My mind was racing verifying my camera settings when I thought – whoa. I quickly pulled my wide angle from the truck and rechecked settings. As I laid the camera on the hood it started. The roar, they were lifting in stages from the distance. Then is was time for those in front of me. I had so much adrenaline flowing I could have bottled it.
The Lift was in full effect. The Roar sounded as if a train was coming down the road towards me. Cough, what cough? I was too busy to cough as natures wonder was unfolding right before my eyes. I had seen National Geographic shows with geese lifting. It didn’t compare to what I was witnessing. I reached for my camera on the hood. It was set to a fully wide angle view as I leaned against the truck for support. Firing away as they continued to lift.
I was all alone experiencing what I would call a heavenly moment. I praised and gave thanks to God.
I submitted this photo for the second weeks contest. It was selected as the winner. I’m honored.