Friday, July 14, 2006

Life Can Be a Bummer...

I will never know how Jane Goodall, Bernd Heinrich, and all those others who observe by immersion ever survive the first months of their project. I know that I mentioned before that Sweetpea had all her eggs but 2-3 slobbered on by a stray dog. She ejected them and the family moved them to another place (what was left), and she finally successfully comes around now with 3 brand spanking new goslings still yellow and fuzzy. The others are all growing up as are the ducklings from the mallards. So another "family"took over the nest outside my window with a clutch of 8 eggs. She is a real true egg sitter and rarely gets up except to eat, drink, and save her life. Edith had a clutch on the other end of my patio in the bush. No not dogs and cats this time- but some grimey preadolescent boys decided to take a wizz on her eggs leaving her no alternative but to try again across the lake. Now one can always call animal control for the animals, but who exactly does one call for children who are obnoxious at best? I s there a Children Control who will come and put them in little rooms to await their parents to come and claim them? Hmm.

Anyway, I have been taking snaps of the eggs and diligently recording my observations. One very very early morning I heard the all too familiar sound of squawking and the splash of 60+ big geese hitting the water at the same time and knew before I was awake the dog was back. I jumped from my bed threw open the blind and window to find not the old familiar dumped off hound but a huge German Shepherd (red collar and all) along with 5-yes-5 puppies of probably3 months age, all rather golden with big german Shepherd ears and faces, paws like griddles, and smiles that went on forever. There I am in my pajamas screaming for them to "shoo, go away" but the more I did that, the more the puppies thought it was a game and knocked my screen in. The mother was growling, I am shooting them all with a water gun. Finally I ran to the sliding door, stubbing my toe, and nearly knocking myself unconscious by forgetting to open the door, ran onto the patio and there are the puppies rolling eggs around on the lawn, The fence I put up to keep the cats in also kept me in so I ran around to the front and then to the back. By then the dogs were gone and I stood there in my PJ top and jeans, my water pistol in hand staring at three goose eggs out by the lake. All of the geese were coming back on shore like a scene from Night of the Living Dead, and just standing silently by. We all stood there for a time. I spoke gently and reassuringly to the mother that there were still 5 eggs intact without any slobber on them and to please not reject them. As I turned to go slowly back inside, the mother did return to sit on the eggs. The rest of goose-group stood about respectfully without any bickering or squabbling. None went back to sleep. Breakfast was a bit early.

For all the family feuding, rear end biting and feather pulling that goes on, this is the second time I have witnessed a near disaster for the nesting females, and both times the families rallied around to lend some sort of support. I am reminded of humans who rally around a disaster and then move on with life. Its a rare and tender moment. Who knew geese would be so remarkably gentle at times.

The almost-as-tall-as-their-parents babies of a month ago have learned quite well the art of getting something to eat even if it means pinching and hissing and being pinched and hissed at.

The other day, well actually several weeks ago, I noticed a goose limping so badly he could not stand up and his leg was swollen. The other day, my neighbor Bret, who lives upstairs, and I caught this goose while he was eating. We put a blanket over his head and Bret held him tightly while I proceeded to cut such a tightly wound fishing line from his legs that he was bleeding and , of course, was not pleased. He limped away but he is doing fine now. Someone mentioned at the store where we buy chicken scratch to feed the geese and ducks that soon, I would be awarded honorary wildlife trooper hat for heroic efforts to keep our pushy noisy neighbors happy. At this point, the geese know my car. I had to slip out this morning to get some feed and when I returned down the road, they saw the familiar blue VW Beetle and proceeded to saunter across the road, pause, stare, then hightail it down to my yard for breakfast. With some they eat from my hand. I can tickle some on their chin, and some I can pet on the head. They all bring the new babies by to show off, and we ooh and ahh over them. They are so proud. Shoot, considering what they go through just to sit on a clutch of eggs until they hatch, I'd be darned proud too.

By the way, the accompanying photo this week is of Salt and Pepper two rather long and semi-portly ducks. I surely do not know what kind they are, but if anyone knows for sure, please let me know. Also, we have a baby White Heron and a baby Blue Heron. Life is grand!

And this is only my second month here. By Christmas, they will probably all come over for dinner and gifts.

(originally published 6/21/06)

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