On a windy day in March, amateur photographer Vincent from Huissen stepped out to photograph birds. “The weather was bad so I put on my rain suit and sat with my back against a tree along a lake,” he tells EditieNL.
Three geese flew by. “I saw that one of the three was having trouble flying straight. He was having a hard time with the wind and seemed to fall over in the air. I shot some pictures of it.”
When Vincent looked back at his photos a little later, he was surprised: the goose in question turned out to be flying upside down. However, he held up his head. It produced an unreal image. “I immediately realized that I had captured something special, but at the same time I was afraid that no one would believe me. The image looked like it was edited in Photoshop.”
He posted the photo in a Facebook group for bird lovers. It was immediately shared a lot. “Some people indeed thought it was fake. But I also got a message from a Dutchman who lives in Norway and knew this phenomenon. He lives next to a lake and regularly sees geese doing this. There is even a name for it: whiffling goose.”
Geese appear to do this in the storm to be able to descend quickly and brake. “That way they can still land in a place where they would otherwise fly past, for example in a lake.”
The image has since gone around the world. “I’ve received tens of thousands of messages from Australia, Turkey, England, North and South America, etc. It even appeared in large format in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. In Istanbul, the photo was used at a university in a lesson about aerodynamics. Funnily enough, it has not really picked up in the Netherlands. Until now.”
Vincent considers it a great honour. “There are pictures online of geese doing this, but none as clear and sharp as this one. I think it’s special that I was able to take these.”
Press officer Lars Soerink of the Bird Protection also thinks it is a spectacular photo. “You don’t see this happening often. It’s not like geese do this on a daily basis. It’s very special that Vincent managed to capture this,” he tells EditieNL.
He himself saw it happen. “Geese sometimes seem to be in a frenzy trying these kinds of stunts. Exactly why they do it is still being interpreted. But I can imagine it helps to descend faster.”
According to Soerink, it could also be that the geese do it to experiment. “Once young geese have mastered flying, they start to see what is possible and how far they can go. Or they do it to brag to their peers. Like: look at me!”