I've experienced a string of bad luck in my recent endeavors to see a Snow Goose in West Virginia. In December, I chased a reported possible Snow Goose at Cheat Lake Park near Morgantown, but it turned out to be a weird white domestic goose of some sort. Strike one! Then in January, I chased another reported Snow Goose near Morgantown, but it turned out to actually be a hybrid Snow x Ross's Goose. Strike two!
Then earlier this week my fortunes changed for the better when my birding friend Mike alerted me to the fact that a Ross's Goose had just been discovered at Pruntytown Wildlife Management Area in Taylor County. Ross's Geese are even more rare in West Virginia than Snow Geese. The next morning, Mike and I set out to chase this wild goose hoping that this would not become yet another wild goose chase.
The fact that Pruntytown WMA exists in four separate tracts presented us with a small challenge because all we knew was that the Ross's was associating with a flock of 75 Canada Geese in a grassy field. That could be any of the tracts! So we decided to be methodical. The first tract that we checked was at the Taylor County fairgrounds. A quick drive through the fairgrounds property produced a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks and an American Kestrel, but no flock of geese.
Next up was the Lost Run tract located at the intersection of routes 50 and 250. Before we even pulled in to the parking area, we spotted a white goose standing out in the field with a flock of Canada Geese. Ka-Ching! We had our Ross's Goose. Within a few minutes we had parked Mike's new Jeep, studied the bird through our scopes and begun to take pictures.
As I was searching for the Ross's Goose in my camera view finder, I chanced upon a blue color morph Snow Goose mixed in with the flock of Canada Geese. Ka-Ching again! I had previously seen white Snow Geese in West Virginia, but this was my first blue Snow Goose for the state. My Snow Goose drought had finally come to a glorious ending.