As Mother’s Day nears, I am always happy to discover at least one pair of Canada Geese and their brand-new goslings to spotlight for Mother’s Day weekend. I’ve generally been pretty lucky to get a few shots for that special event.
Throughout April, in my everyday jaunts to Council Point Park, I diligently peered along the banks of the Ecorse Creek for swan and/or goose nests to no avail. I’ve always wanted a picture of Mama Goose sitting on a nest; maybe I need to add that sought-after shot to my “Birdie Bucket List” for down the road.
As you know from Sunday’s post, I glimpsed the first family of geese on Tuesday, April 28th, but had not toted the camera with me. The family was paddling in the Ecorse Creek and the fuzzy little darlings had formed a neat row behind one parent, likely Mom, with the other parent bringing up the rear to keep any stragglers in check. Geese are no slackers – the same day goslings hatch, their parents lead them to the water for their first swim. Those goslings were the smallest I’ve ever seen make their debut.
Generally, we walkers have our first gosling sighting of the year in a somewhat secluded area near the twisted tree. This is likely because this spot has easy access to the Creek if the family needs to make a quick getaway due to a predator. As the goslings get older, the families gravitate to the grassier areas of the Park where the whole family engages in non-stop grazing for another six weeks, before departing for the Summer.
After two days of rain and mothballing my camera during my Park outings for a month, I was anxious to return to the Park to get those coveted gosling shots for a Mother’s Day weekend post. Thankfully I did so, as it was the last day we could access Council Point Park for a while. I will wonder daily about the status of all the critters there – life will, of course, go on for them regardless of the pause we must take from the Park, but I am sure they wonder where their benefactors are?
Mama and Papa and their brood.
A week ago Friday, a walker pointed me in the right direction and I high-tailed it over to the twisted tree. There they were, a half-dozen goslings toddling after their parents. These wee ones, with their sturdy legs and big feet, run very quickly, and, after a flurry of shots, in past years, I often get home with images of gosling butts, beaks or just bodies, as they have run right out of the picture frame before I snapped the shot. 🙂 Their parents take it slow and easy on the Park grounds, leisurely nibbling on grass and meandering along. The only time they move quickly is for territorial fighting or defending their young ‘uns, should anyone, or anything, stray overly close to their babies. I’ve learned over the years to steer clear of the gander, as he vigilantly protects his family and is apt to hiss with his bright-pink tongue as he flaps his wings warning us to stay away. I will veer off the path every time, even if the grass is soggy, to avoid goose histrionics and/or getting myself goosed by the gander!
I admired the family …
… but didn’t have much time to take pictures as they were clearly on the move. Mama Goose had announced it was time for more swimming lessons, so, one by one, the family members waddled down to the water’s edge. Years ago, you could hear the goslings plop into the Creek, but the water level has risen so high the past few years, now they simply walk right into the water.
I got this photo as they paddled swiftly, churning up the water, but then the budding bushes got in the way, so I had to run down to an area that was more open to watch them.
The swimming lessons didn’t last too long. The family simply crossed to the opposite side of the Creek, with the goslings obediently following along behind a parent to explore a new site to graze and run around some more.
I turned my attention back to my walk and Parker, who alerted me with an accusatory stare, that he was there and ready to receive peanuts and I’d ogled the goslings long enough.
Well, it looks like I really lucked out – there was a second family!
As I took a picture of Parker’s shameless begging, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a second family of Canada Geese lurking in the bushes. Perhaps “lurking” is not the best choice of words, but I caught sight of the parents and noticed one of the adults stretching its neck out in a back-and-forth motion, a sure sign of agitation, most likely with my presence. So I backed off a bit, as my glasses were fogged up from the mask so I couldn’t see 100% anyway and I certainly did not want to tangle with any geese.
After stepping back onto the path, the gander relaxed and joined its mate where they were poking around the ground cover and sparse grass.
Their six offspring seemed to mimic their parents as they flipped over crisp leaves or twigs, filling their black bills with tender grass shoots wherever they could uncover them. A couple of goslings were already making themselves heard with loud squeaks and peeps, just a preview of coming attractions.
I took a few photos, knowing that the shady area was not going to make for stellar shots, but that was okay too – the already-fuzzy goslings might just look a little fuzzier from my vantage point.
I had just settled in to take more pictures, when the agenda abruptly changed as one parent had commandeered the contingent of goslings to head down to the water. This was not as easy for them to navigate as the previous family, as they were not right at the shoreline. I watched from afar through the brush while, one by one, the goslings gingerly picked their way down the slope and were soon afloat, once again in a neat queue with one parent up front and a parent bringing up the rear before they quickly disappeared out of view.
I finished my walk on a real high, the euphoria of seeing and photographing two sets of Canada Geese and their goslings, a pair of American Black Ducks, a Great Blue Heron, a Downy Woodpecker, a Cardinal, a Blue Jay, a Cottontail Rabbit and finally a collection of squirrels, of the Gray, Black and Fox varieties. I narrowly missed grabbing the image of a Groundhog (hey, you win some – you lose some).
Hours later, however, my euphoria was dimmed by the downer of discovering Council Point Park would be closed for an undetermined amount of time. Hopefully it is open soon to enable me to get some photos of the families as they grow up. I went to Elizabeth Park on Sunday, my camera in tow, and got some more gosling shots, which I’ll share in an upcoming post.