Last week I posted this image of Ross' geese from Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and held a little contest to see who could guess the number of geese—in the air—in the photograph. The response was great; 83 people submitted estimates. The guesses covered a wide range, from 300 to 4000. Thanks to all of you who joined in—this has been a lot of fun!
So here's the actual number of geese, in the air, that I counted: (drumroll please) 1585. The closest guess was 1600, made by Jack Kirchert. Congratulations Jack! Honorable mentions go to Jim Davies, 1560; James Williams, 1545; and Pam, 1543. All these people came within 42 of the actual number. The next closest estimate was 1505, 80 geese away from my count.
Since four people came so close, I'm going to award four prizes: all the people I just mentioned will get their choice of either my Digital Landscape Photography book or one of my three Yosemite posters. In addition, the Grand Prize winner, Jack Kirchert, will receive an 8x10 matted print of this photograph with a congratulatory message and my signature.
Most of the guesses turned out to be too low. The actual count surprised me as well. When I first looked at the image, I thought there might be 600 to 800 birds in the air. But when I started actually counting them (I know, too much time on my hands...) it quickly became apparent that there were a lot more geese than I thought. As I mentioned earlier, this was part of a large flock that arrived to join the birds already on the ground. This photograph shows only a portion of this group of new arrivals, certainly less than half, so this new group might have had 4000 to 5000 birds, joining perhaps another 5000 or more on the ground. An amazing number, and a wonderful sight. (Here's a larger view of this photograph.)
So thanks again to all who participated, and congratulations to the winners!