Sunday, November 6, 2011

Today, an Observer

Despite my ramblings last week, when I went this morning to run in the same place, I took my camera. While I know it's not the case, there's a part of me that doesn't think things are quite as valid if I don't have PROOF that they happened. And I had to make a deal with myself... the camera was WOW! moments, not for stopping to take a picture of the wooly bears that are everywhere right now, or a milkweed seed pod whose fluff caught the morning sun in a special way. (You could argue that those are WOW! moments, too, but... you know what I mean.)

Sandhill cranes at the edge of the water. 
Anyhow, I did see sandhill cranes again, but the experience was not quite the same as last week's. I came upon a pair of them at the edge of a pond during a part of my run that was relatively crowded -- me, another runner, and a pair of walkers, all going at different speeds, all converged at this spot at the same time. Whether it was this or something else, the pair of cranes didn't stay long. Shortly after I snapped their photo, they spread their wings and took flight across the small pond and into the field, where they joined 4 other cranes. The six of them, presumably the same six birds from last week, jumped around for a few moments, called their primeval call, but they were far from me this time. Then two took off flying, and I ran on. I got an OK picture. I didn't get a connection, I didn't get to be a crane this week.

Almost more arresting were the geese. This morning was a goose morning. Geese really aren't a phenological harbinger of seasonal change the way they once were. In A Sand County Almanac, Leopold brilliantly described, in 1948, the Return of the Geese as an early sign of spring to which he looked forward every year. Now, geese pretty much stick around year long. It is my understanding that there is a small non-migratory population that sticks around all year, and then a larger migratory group. However, we have summer residents that migrate away, and I suspect we also have winter geese that send their summers way up in Canada and come here for the relief of aerated office park ponds than never freeze. Geese are so common that they've become pests... I wonder how Leopold would feel about the businesses that have sprung up whose sole purpose is to chase the geese away?!?
A flock of Canada Geese heading south.

Still... around this time of year and also in March, there is a whole lot of goose movement. On Friday night, I watched and listened as hundreds of them flew over in several groups, in front of a really spectacular backdrop of sun setting with a unique cloudscape. Unfortunately, I was observing from the parking lot of a Chase, with powerlines and a BOA in the foreground... so not so much a photographic moment. I'm not that good with photoshop. (I don't even have photoshop).

This morning, I saw similar numbers of geese in large groups heading in a generally southerly direction. Their calls are certainly not as eerie and haunting as the crane's, but in the numbers that they were in, it seemed to surround me. So that was kind of neat, too.

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