First, Gander came by to check. He and Goose are beginning their 7th year nesting on the island in the pond. It’s a good spot for a goose nest because the water surrounding the island protects it from the coyotes and egg-raiders while the tall grass of the island makes great aerial camouflage for the nest. He wasn’t happy, because there is still ice in the pond, and it seems that you really do have to be the first nesting goose to validate your claim. He brought Goose along the second day – over the past seven years she has became a bit frail – so it is good to see them back again.
Living in the flyway, I became accustomed to huge flocks of migrating geese – probably an appropriate way for a demographer to view a species. Here, I watch a pair of geese, and their offspring, through the season. Frankly, there are some lessons in morality and responsibility to be learned from my goose neighbors.
Gander does the first recon alone anymore. When they were young adults – call it the newlywed stage – they were inseparable, and hard to tell apart. Gander has continued to grow, and is now an average size lesser-Canadian, Goose shows her frailty, and he works at minimizing her risks and exposure.
With the nest unavailable, the two are hanging out in the Salina Wild Rye – good cover, close to the nest site, and, as soon as the ice melts, Goose will be back on her nest, hatching out another group of goslings. Her first year, she led the flock on a hike around the pond, straight through the grass into an eagle that was dining on a road-kill cat. Since 2015, Gander has taken responsibility for leading all the land trips. That first year, as two eagles flew over the nest, Gander took to the air to divert them, then flew over me low, and made a couple circles as the eagles flew on away from Goose. The next Spring, he decided to use me as part of his threat to a larger pair of geese that wanted the nest site.
I’ve watched the Fall departure delayed and delayed for a gosling who could almost fly – working at getting four or five feet above the ground for 100 yard flights, but unable to soar like her siblings. My floating dock is taken over early in the flight lessons to teach water landings before the goslings can fly. I’m looking forward to seeing what I learn from geese this year.