Friday, April 25, 2008

Mother Goose, and maybe Father, too.

The Reifel Island bird sanctuary is a maze of waterways and lagoons, tide flats, islets and hummocks, criss-crossed by narrow spits and dikes for human visitors; we walked for 3 hours on Tuesday without covering half of it.

One of the larger lagoons. Observation tower visible on far side.

At intervals, we pass observation posts; a tower or two, a few raised platforms, three or four blinds, the odd bench for resting weary legs.

On one of the platforms, a goose dozed, standing one-legged on the railing. (Great sense of balance!)

At the far end of the platform, I put a handful of the bird seed we had picked up at the Reifel entrance. The goose woke immediately, turned and walked over to check it out ...

... hissing as he (or she; they look alike) came towards me; "Out of my way, and don't touch that food! It's mine!"

Head-on like that, he looks different; round and fat. And menacing.

I didn't move away, but he wasn't going to miss out on the handout. He came right up within arm's reach.

Goose feet, and the top of his head, too close to focus.

Eating. See the seeds in his bill?

We went on our way. On several of the islets, geese were sitting on their nests.

These don't seem to be all that well protected, but there is no human access to the islets; no boats on the water, no paths leading to them. They're probably too big to have to worry about eagles, which would be a threat to smaller birds.

From the U. of Michigan "Animal Diversity Web", I learn;
Female Canada geese pick nesting sites that are isolated but have good visibility. This allows them to readily see danger approaching and to be difficult to get at. The nesting area also must have open water with low banks so they can have access to water plants and places to get into or out of the water.
They sit on the nest for 3 to 4 weeks, so within a month the goslings will be on the water. At the entrance they told us that the sandhill cranes are nesting, too. Their incubation period is just slightly longer, but under 5 weeks. We must come back next month!


  1. Very pretty geese images. I like your blog and have linked to it on my own. Observing and interacting with nature is wonderful, yes?

  2. The goose is wonderful, so arrogant and determined to defend that seed against all comers. Even for a goose, it's surprising that you can approach that close.

    Carolyn H.

  3. Hi, Zhakee,
    Welcome to my blog! And thanks for the link. I took the opportunity to look over your blog, and have added it to my daily feed and blogroll. Good photography, and so different than our wet country!

    It might have helped that my head was right down at his level, and somehow less threatening that way.


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