The Sentinel

This was the fourth year in a row a Canada goose couple had chosen to nest on Green Heron Pond. Dan and I had tried to discourage them to no avail, so finally we gave in and accepted the fact that they would nest by our dock for the third time. (Their first nesting site had been across the pond at a neighbor’s shoreline-  in the open. That did not work well and predators got the eggs.) From that experience the couple came over to our side of the shoreline and picked a spot near the dock under a frail old willow.  We had left this sad little tree standing as it had been housing for a Downy brood, a Redbelly couple- until Starlings moved in on them and lastly Chickadees- mid season looking for rental property it seemed.   Seems the Canadas decided this same spot would provide an unlimited land view, water escape and some protection due to the strategic tree trunk placement.

It did for two years and they raised a total of 7 goslings in those two seasons. However sometime between last nesting season and this spring the little tree gave out, crumbled and fell. The geese were undeterred and Momma built the nest with surrounding material-sticks, soft bark, leaves, grass and her own feathers. This year there would be 7 large chalky colored eggs nestled in the carefully constructed imprint at water’s edge.  But still it had been a bit of a rocky start as the geese had seemed a uneasy and more aggressive this year. I had been more careful going about the yard- them sometimes hissing and nodding (maybe shaking their heads) at me.

At 3:30 this morning their unease was warranted and they were on full alarm. I took flashlight in hand, headed downstairs, turned on lights, opened the door poised to scare off a raccoon or possum only to find a honking goose standing over the nest and the other in the water also excited. The geese couple soon calmed down and I headed back up bleary eyed to possibly go back to sleep.  Not to be… about fifteen minutes later there was such a commotion that I looked out to see a very large winter coated coyote loping across the lawn headed for the goose nest.  Again I headed downstairs to shoo it off as coyotes do not like human confrontation or lights as a rule and thinking it had probably just had an egg for breakfast and would be on its way.

The Sentinel
Silent Sentinel

I trudged back upstairs- but no sleep was coming when I heard the mournful honks of a goose. Venturing from my covers, I put on my old robe and headed down in early light only to see Poppa goose- one egg crushed, 2 missing, 3 still tucked in tight and the last one rolled down to water’s edge. The lawn was covered with feathers like autumn leaves scattered in the Kansas breeze. Momma Canada had defended her eggs to the end. Two sets of coyote tracks and the progression of feathers told the story.  The gander was powerless to help her when they came.

Today the silent sentinel continued to stand guard and wonder and wait for his mate.  Some lessons at the pond are harder than others- there are things worth defending.  I will reflect on this for a long time… Life on Green Heron Pond.

 

 

 

A “Dressing Down” by Tom Turkey

Yesterday Dan and I had returned from a short toddler-sitting stint in Manhattan (Ks). You know- “The Little Apple”, home of the best bakery bread I can remember, Radina’s Bake House! Pain Ordinaire and its Konza Whole Wheat are “swoonable” and sentimental bite after bite…but I digress.  So after purchasing these loaves, on our way out of Manhattan, we traveled home and I headed back out to pick up a little cheese, fruit and veggies…just an accompaniment for the Pain Ordinaire (nothing ordinary about it!) for an early supper.

green Heron Pond
Winter Scene at Green Heron Pond

Friday afternoons are particularly busy on the main highway just a few blocks from our house, so  opted to head South and then East on the quieter, less traveled county road to the grocery store. The speed limit is 55 going East but soon becomes a 40 mph zone which is seldom observed or rarely enforced.  It was at the beginning of the 40  mph that I saw 4 turkeys; 3 at the road side and 1 in the opposite lane- standing…  Applying my brakes, I assumed it would decide to head on across and join the other 3. Instead it just stood there glancing sideways at my car…  Believing it was waiting for me to pass by, I gently pressed on the foot feet and crept forward.  At that point the turkey decided it had given me enough time to make a decision and its own decision was to proceed on across in front of me.

That was a fine decision by me as I began to see an oncoming SUV and my rear view mirror was reflecting a small line of vehicles behind my car…folks on their way home- wondering why we were not moving.  I then honked a tiny “beep” at the turkey who started gobbling under its breath it seemed.  The oncoming SUV had stopped a little bit back from this turkey-car stand-off so I again crept forward and beeped one short soft blast only to have the turkey turn towards my car, do a full display revealing for all that he was a Tom Turkey and that the woman in the shiny silver car was NOT going to expedite his walk or intimidate him in any way.   He gobbled loudly, lunged for the front right passenger side tire- seemingly satisfied.  I then slowly maneuvered my way past him still in full display.

As I looked in the rear view mirror, slowly accelerating, I could  see the small line of vehicles that had been behind me were still stopped,  waiting for this grand Tom Turkey to clear the shoulder of the road and join the rafter of fellow turkeys. The lady in the oncoming SUV was laughing hard and shaking her head in wonder at the show of disdain by Mr Turkey.  Yep, it was my dressing down for interrupting his promenade to his peers roadside!  I sheepishly slipped away fully aware of my public shaming hoping it would be quelled by a delicious hunk of Pain Ordinaire and a good piece of cheese…

pain ordinaire
Delicious Pain Ordinaire!