Monday, March 16, 2009
A GANDER TAKES A GANDER
One of the benefits of living beside a river is that you never know who’ll drop in for breakfast. This morning it was a Canada goose. Actually, it was the male of a pair of Canadas which lately have been hanging around the pool directly in front of the cottage. There are lots of geese on the river, but now that the nesting season is here, territories have been chosen and are being ardently protected—particularly from other geese. The female of the cottage pair never actually came up on the bank this time around—at least she didn’t while I was watching. So I snapped only her handsome and vigilant mate’s portrait. They do visit as a couple most days, though the male is always the first up the bank—acting as scout, looking around, making sure he and his lady love can dine on the scattered cracked corn in peace and safety. He may take half an hour before giving the all-clear sign; sometimes he simply stands around and looks about, then goes back down to the water without taking more than a cursory peck at the available food. Obviously, something about the situation this time around failed to meet his approval—though whether from a security standpoint or simply a matter of current dining companions, I’m never quite sure. The geese and squirrels are, at best, uneasy meal-mates…squirrels being a bit too frolicsome and irreverent for the more stern and haughty Canadas. I have no doubt the geese couple be back sometime before the morning ends. They usually make at least one feeding excursion early in the day and another in mid-afternoon. Last spring, a pair of Canadas—perhaps even these same geese—nested on the lower end of the island next in line as you travel upstream from the cottage. There are three islands in a row along this section—sometimes four, depending on whether a certain cut in the downstream-most island, separating the two portions of river, has washed out or filled in following the most recent bout of high water. All these islands are long, narrow affairs—a hundred yards or more in length and perhaps twenty yards across at their widest, and covered with timber. The one located across from the cottage is either the first or the first and second, depending on the state of the above-mentioned cut. This spring, the cut is open and water is flowing between the two stream arms. But last spring the cut was filled and closed with debris. I’m sure all this is confusing. Perhaps I should have exercised literary license and eliminated this on-again, off-again island count. But, if I’m going to be honest and accurate in these reports, I thought it necessary to include something about the changeable nature of even the land itself. A riverside life is never static. Given a bit of luck, and judicious bribing with cracked corn, I’m hoping my Home Pool Canadas will select a nesting site within easy watching distance…a back corner of the yard would be great. I always get a kick out of seeing the fuzzy goslings. And between now and then, while the eggs are being sat, I’ll do what I can to provide the parents-to-be with a safe, comfortable home…a well as a good place later on for raising their brood.