The Freezout Lake Snow Goose migration occurs each spring, and is a very popular event for nature lovers in the Great Falls area. Julie and I have logged many days at Freezout – but in the fall and with guns. Never in the spring with cameras and binoculars. We decided to spend a morning checking it out last weekend with our daughter Adair. The weather was beautiful and it was a packed house. This event attracts birders and waterfowl photographers from all over the west (World?).
Adair didn’t really get it as we hiked the levies and saw some birds. We really didn’t see that many ducks and geese considering Frezzout’s fame for waterfowl production, though there are several thousand swans around. We had just about given up when we saw a large number of cars parked on the lower lake so we decided to give it a look. It didn’t take 10 minutes for a group of geese the size of a medium sized city to descend onto the lake. Then she got it.
If you’re into this sort of thing, you might check it out. It only last a couple of weeks before the Snow’s continue their journey north. if you’re in the area, head north out of Great Falls on I-15 to Vaughn, then follow the signs to Choteau/Glacier Park. Right after the town of Fairfield, you’ll run right through the middle of the Freezout Lake area. If the birds are around there will be cars up and down the shoulder of the highway.
You can drive to plenty of the viewing spots, and there is a system of levies and roads throughout the Wildlife Refuge. Some of these roads are open, but many are closed except for foot traffic. Very easy walking if you want to get a little exercise while you’re there.
Bring binoculars for sure. If you want to bring camera gear you’ll want a lens of at least 300mm equivalent. You’ll see more pro’s here with $10K telephoto lenses than anywhere outside of an NFL stadium. My 70-200 was definitely not enough on my full frame camera, though it was close on Adair’s inexpensive crop-sensor camera.