On a cold, clear February morning on the eastern shore of Maryland, I headed out at first light to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The road to get there takes you through rural farmland where corn stubble from last year's crop is evident. It is not uncommon in this area to see geese in the fields or flying in the distance.
A few hundred snow geese came over a distant tree line. I pulled over to watch. There were more in the distance. As I sat on the shoulder of the road hundreds and hundreds of snow geese locked their black-tipped wings, their heads back, and they began to descend. Their approach wasn't direct; they're smarter than that. On the eastern shore where goose hunting is a long standing cultural tradition, geese that are not entirely vigilant find themselves on a dinner plate. They circled and circled, and when the first group had thoroughly inspected the landing zone, they settled down on the field.
Soon the sky was filled with with geese. In the distance, overhead, landing in the field, there were geese everywhere. For the next 20 minutes the snows, both dark and white, settled in the field.
The sound of snow geese in the air reminds me of a rickety old train going down the tracks; metal scraping on metal, high pitches and low, and the rumble on an engine. On the ground, there is a low rumble punctuated by the louder "honks" that you expect from geese.