Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canada Geese: Branta canadensis

Back on the lake last Thursday night after a four-month break. It’s felt like a longer winter than usual with more really cold spells, rain, and long periods of strong winds. If winds are predicted to be 10-to-20 mph or higher I don’t like to go out on the water. One measure of how long the break was this year is that I missed the pine pollen season when the lake is covered with the stuff and the boat comes back in with a thick layer at the water line. Anyway… Thursday evening was my first trip out this year.

The trees are leafing out and the rhododendrons have started to bloom. And one of my favourite treats. The Canada geese are back. The breeding pairs. I believe I saw four pairs in
cluding the pair that nest – if you call a shallow depression on the ground a nest – near the group cottages and my favourite pair that nest on the small island near picnic area #2 (Segment 16). The goose from this pair has already settled in and her gander has assumed his guard duties.

This pair was at the edge of the water near the dam. I coasted to a stop almost directly opposite them and was quite surprised that the gander didn’t honk in protest. But he didn’t and I was actually able to take a couple of strokes to get into a better position to photograph. Sometimes I can get into position but the birds spook when I raise the camera to take the shot.

When I arrived the gander was clearly on guard. He was standing quite erect with his head extended. I managed to get this shot just before the guard duties shifted to the goose. She didn’t shift position at all. However, the gander definitely was no longer on duty. He turned his back to me and began grazing on grass, focused on tearing at a tuft that wasn’t yielding willingly, and completely unconcerned at my presence.

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