Friday, February 24, 2012

They're baaaack...!

I've been really busy during the last week, so I haven't had much time to prepare posts, though I have a few in the works.

Last Thursday (February 16), "my" pair of Canada geese showed up again, begging for birdseed.
 In the spring of 2010, a pair of Canada geese took up residence in the 0.1-acre pond a few hundred feet behind and downhill from my house.  There's a tiny island in the pond, just big enough for a goose nest, and the geese defended their territory against all comers.  Watching me feed the flock of turkeys that hung around begging for handouts, the geese eventually waddled up the hill--across a field of recently cut multiflora roses (ouch!)--and stared at me plaintively until I brought them some seed, too.  Even though I was feeding them, they hissed at me if I got too close.  And, so it went on a daily basis during most of the spring.
Then we had a long rainy period.  The water level in the pond rose so high one night that it inundated the island, drowning the nest and the eggs.  The geese hung around in the pond, disconsolate, for a few days, then disappeared.

Last spring, the geese reappeared.  It took less than a day for them to make their way up the slope for a handout, so I was pretty sure it was the same pair as the year before.  Despite daily--and sometimes multiple daily--feedings, I still got the royal hiss if I dared to approach too closely.  Unfortunately, their nest was inundated by spring rains once again last year.

Now the geese are back for another try.  Perhaps the third time's a charm.

A pair of geese always claims the island each spring; I don't know if it's the current pair.  When the nest doesn't drown, the geese usually produce a fairly sizable brood of goslings.  Maybe it's better that the nest drowns, though, because during the years in which the geese successfully hatch a brood, most--if not all--of the goslings are lost to the big snapping turtles that cruise just below the surface of the pond.
 Certainly, we don't need any more Canada geese, but I feel sorry for "my" pair that invest so much time and energy into tending their nest, only to have it lost to meteorological vagaries. So, I'll keep feeding them and tolerating their insolent hissing.


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Canada Geese are, of course, not native to these islands though there is a large population descended from escapes from collections. They can be found even in the parks in cities. Being non-native they are not cosidered "real birds" by birdwatchers, which bothers the geese not a jot!

Gail said...

Hi - great pictures and 'looking out'. :-) We have Canadian geese in our pond yearly.
Love Gail

packrat said...

Nature red in tooth and claw, eh, Scott?

One thing I know about geese: you really don't want to tick them off. They can be frighteningly aggressive.

Even though as an adult I understand the vagaries of life, whenever I hear a story like the one you related regarding the fate of the goslings the little boy in me feels awfully sad.

Scott said...

John: Though Wild Turkeys are a native part of our avifauna, the ones in our preserve were introduced, so our birders give them a brush-off just like your birders do the Canada geese in British parks. Admittedly, since I feed them so frequently, the turkeys have become nearly pets and are no great "challenge" for the birders, either.

Scott said...

Gail: The one thing I don't like about the geese (OK, maybe the second thing, besides being dissed while I'm feeding them) is that they leave goose droppings all over my sidewalk. They seem to be more prolific defecaters than the turkeys.

Scott said...

Packrat: It's really disheartening to watch the prolonged disappearance of the goslings when it happens. They usually vanish on a one-a-day basis until there are only two or fewer left.

I keep my distance from the guardian gander (who's the more likely of the two to hiss, but the female's not shy about getting into the act, either). Sometimes it's hard, though; as soon as they see me coming with the birdseed, I get rushed! Spoiled!