Friday, 11 May 2012

Duck, Duck... Goose?

Every year for the last 5 years we have watched the same pair of geese attempt to hatch goslings and every year something happens. It has been so sad to watch them fail time and again over the years. This year we were very hopeful that they would finally get the chance to raise some babies. I love geese and really want to watch the whole process in the wild. We have been very careful as always to keep our distance as much as possible so as not to alarm them. Indeed all seemed to be going well.

Father goose has been very watchful over his mate and although he will allow a few small ducks on the pond he will not allow anything else and is ferocious about chasing any possible interlopers away.

Some of the "allowed" interlopers. Although every once in a while father goose will decide to chase them off too.

A pair which was chased away.

Usually mother goose builds her nest on top of an old muskrat den but this year she wasn't there and try as we might we couldn't seem to locate her.  It wasn't until we took a close look at the muskrat den that we realized it was being put to use and indeed a new muskrat had decided to build onto it. No wonder mother goose wasn't in her usual place!

Finally about 4 days ago we found her. 

All looked well and we only were there long enough to take a quick picture before leaving her in peace. But all was not well... and for the last few days we haven't seen father goose anywhere. To top it off, yesterday three strangers arrived and took up residence in the pond with no challenge from father goose. What could possibly be wrong?

Finally Mountain Man and I decided it was time to find out what happened. When we arrived at the spot nothing could be seen, no goose... nothing. Were the eggs still there? Had she left them for some reason? It didn't seem likely as the two of them were so ferociously protective of them. Did a predator get to them? I really needed to know! But how to find out? The water was too deep to walk out there and we have no canoe or boat. What to do?

In the end there I was standing on the safety of the bank while Mountain Man waded out into the still freezing water of the pond towards where the nest was. How can you not love a man who will walk into freezing water up to his hips to check on what happened to a wild goose just because his wife wants to know? Sigh.... makes my heart go pitter pat every time. 

Nothing... The eggs were gone, the nest was almost gone and all that was left was water. What mother goose had thought was a safe place to build had turned out to be a disaster. We have had nothing but rain for days on end and the nest was flooded out. As I look back at the previous photo's now I wonder that we didn't notice her impending danger as it was right there for us to see. Check out the bottom left corner of the photo below. The water level when this is blown up goes almost to the nest. Poor girl, she didn't have a chance as we have had a lot more rain since then.

So here we are again a pond empty of geese. Oh they come and go but mostly it is just the little ducks swimming around. Maybe next year?

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