As I arrived at work this morning and parked the car, I saw a herd of wild geese flying from the north. I grabbed my camera from my bag and all but fell out of the car in a rush to try and get them as they were going at a fair lick. I flung the camera to my eye, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best with not having time to check my settings or any of the normal niceties when contemplating a photograph. A moment later they were out of sight.
Click on it to see the bigger version, they are amazing to see in such a big group. I’m not sure where they were going, but they were heading south, and I couldn’t tell what kind of geese they were as they were too high up. Apparently we get geese coming over here to winter and some bred here go to North Africa, so they could be coming or going. Either way it was a spectacle I’m glad I didn’t miss.
Birds flying in a V formation are taking advantage of aerodynamics. The lead bird works the hardest by breaking into undisturbed air. The next two birds fly into the “sweet spot” where wingtip vortices form, reducing drag and producing uplift. The birds use the uplift and expend about 20–30% less energy flying. The advantage of flying in this spot results in the bird’s heartbeat being reduced and it doesn’t have to flap its wings as much. As the lead bird tires, it drops back in the formation and the next bird takes its place. Drafting off one another requires close formation, about 3 feet apart.