Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mysterious Big Goose Party

No one knows who they were, or what they were doing...but their legacy remains...
"Stonehenge," from This is Spinal Tap.

I know many people consider Canada Geese a nuisance, but since arriving in droves on our pond last week, I have been fascinated by their comings and goings. During the week, my observations were limited to nighttime, so I could only hear them: usually a muffled clucking as we drifted off to sleep, or as I was getting ready for work. This morning I was able to enjoy a prolonged period of goose-watching while we had breakfast and tackled a few chores. The population looked to be about the same size as we started with last weekend, but of course a precise census was impossible. At about 8:30 the geese began flying off in groups of 10-20, and within 30 minutes they were gone. A little mental arithmetic suggests there were initially as many as 200 birds on the pond.

I'm fascinated by their behavior. I can understand the attraction of our pond. But when they fly away, where do they go? What prompts them to return? Are they one big flock, or several smaller ones? Is there a hierarchy or social order? Do they have families, jobs, chores? OK, maybe not that last part.

Our own ducks had been patiently waiting their turn, and were able to enjoy their pond again for a while. Around 10:30, the geese returned. I didn't see or hear them arrive, but suddenly there they were. And not only were they swimming about on the pond, but a sizeable phalanx was marching up onto land. The Normandy invasion came to mind, until I hit on a more pleasant image: the treetop dog party in the classic children's book by P.D. Eastman, Go, Dog. Go! But lower to the ground. And without the party hats.

Where else can you go from Spinal Tap to Go, Dog. Go! in one blog post?

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