They are gone now but for four days we had a flock of geese, 10 of them, hanging out in our southerly horse paddocks. The show, as viewed from our living room, alternated between nothing much happening and kerfuffle-in-the-field, if you will.
I first noticed our visitors early one morning as I was sipping coffee number one and gazing out our picture window. The air was quite cool, such that the ponds were obscured by huge clouds of mist rising off of the warmer water.
Suddenly, a squadron of geese came over the bushes from the direction of the upper pond and landed in what we call pond paddock since it is beside the beaver pond.
This bunch of honkers barely landed when a second squadron appeared and landed beside the first group and then a third squadron followed immediately on the, what? The wings of the other two? I stepped out onto the screen porch to listen to the chorus of arrivees.
Soon the geese settled into grazing for seeds and whatnot in the grasses. Meanwhile, the horses had stopped chowing down on the round hay bale to observe this new phenomenon.
We had closed off access to the lower part of the paddock because the horses’ hooves would have torn up the turf and made a royal mess after so much rain. So the equines could look but not touch, or chase, or whatever they might want to do to the geese. The geese quickly sensed that they would not be molested by the horses.
It was the morning of the second day that a young buck with proto-antlers came prancing into the paddock from the south out of the bush.
He was gorgeous with a red tint to his coat. My wife Laura described him as a gawky teenager since he would dash and stop, dash and stop, sniffing the air. He got close to the geese before he noticed them and then he halted with all four legs spread out.
Slowly he stepped forward to check out these intruders, nosing one of two as they just moved off sometimes with wings raised and making loud complaints. Bambi would push through a group and then change direction to check out another group. Meanwhile, I turned to see what, if anything, the horses were doing. Most of the herd had moseyed down to the gate separating the upper from the lower paddocks to watch.
Now horses and deer get along.
They aren’t bosom buddies but anytime a deer or two show up, the horses merely acknowledge their presence and then resume grazing. Not so with moose.
Horses, for some reason, hate moose, fear moose and refuse to go anywhere near where a moose might be. Many were the times when Laura would be guiding a trail ride only to have her trusty guide horse suddenly stop, snort and refuse any encouragement to continue. But since the deer have arrived, we never see any moose on our property. A mixed blessing,
I think, since I love the sight of these large ungulates but there are no longer any hassles on the trail.
Bambi, the teenager, eventually got bored with investigating the geese and proceeded to exit the paddock. I kept watching, wondering how long our winged guests were fixing to stay.
One afternoon, I looked toward the pond only to see another pair of geese slowly making their way, cautiously along the fence line inside pond paddock. What was going on? Were they fearful of this newly arrived flock? Were they late-comers?
I grabbed binoculars for a better look-see only to discover three goslings, three grayish, fluffy children of this pair of parents, in between the adults. I called Laura from the kitchen to come and see.
“They’re splashing in the large puddle,” she remarked, a puddle that exists only after lots of rain. Slowly parents and kids made their way to a patch of taller grass about half way across the paddock.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “We have a nesting pair in the pond! Isn’t that great?” By day four, the flock was still in residence and Laura wondered if they, too, had elected to spend the summer breeding in our pond.
“Their children will fly away south this autumn only to return to the place where they were born and their children will do the same and their children also and soon we will have hundreds and hundreds of geese pecking away competing with the horses for grass and seeds and what an awful mess they will make!”
We opened the gate separating the upper from the lower paddock on day four.
The horses came charging down to graze on grass. They avoided the geese. The geese slowly moved away from the newcomers. On the morning of day five, only the horses inhabited the paddock.
The flock had flown.
I’m thinking of erecting a sign near the pond: Migrating Geese – Food, Fuel, and Accommodation this exit.
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