It was a good week photographing Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants, a coyote, turtles, honeybees and a Pelican! Best of all is my brown goose story ...
My Brown Goose Story
by Betsy Seeton
I had the most amazing thing happen today. First of all, I was having a good time photographing egrets and a coyote. I didn't even know egrets were in Colorado, so this was a special treat. The last time I photographed one was in California over a year ago when I was cat sitting in San Diego. Just as the egrets took flight, I saw a brown bird way off in the distance in the middle of the lake. It was too far away to see what kind of bird it was so I snapped a few pictures figuring I would examine the photo when I got home. Just at that moment a Canada goose waddled onto the shore and came right up to me. And I mean inches from me. I started talking to her like I always do when I meet wildlife. I wondered if she knew me from last winter when I spent part of each day walking and photographing geese in the area. I made regular friends with some of the geese last winter without feeding them. (I fed a couple of very injured geese two or three times, but that was all.)
After talking to the goose, who stayed close by me, I turned to examine the brown bird in the distance and then something startling happened. It looked right at me and started swimming toward me. I snapped a series of pictures as it made a bee line for me and soon realized it looked like my favorite brown goose from last winter. I've seen her once this year and when I did she immediately got out of the water and came to me. It’s hard to believe she remembered me, but it was amazing to see her come to me when I talked to her. I was with a photographer friend when that happened and he witnessed it. I was as surprised as he was. Maybe she knew my voice. Or maybe it was just coincidental. I still really don't know. Today, she swam half way across the lake and came right to me -- again. It was surreal!
I wonder if she heard the camera clicking (I clicked a lot of pictures last year) and perhaps heard my voice when I spoke to the other goose? Could it be possible that she recognized these sounds and remembered the many times I sat with her and took her picture? Birds are remarkable in many ways and certainly being able to remember how to fly thousands of miles back to the same nesting area is at the top of the marveling I do about them.
Anyway, my brown goose came to shore a few feet from me and just started grooming her feathers and feet and then curled up for some shut eye. She never moved away from me. I sat with her for half an hour. Maybe it's all a coincidence ... I don't know. But it was amazing nonetheless. It was definitely a wow moment and made my day.
Pictured below is my brown goose in a photo I took last year. I posted this picture with a blog called ON BEING DIFFERENT.
The photos that follow were taken over the past few days.
"The Double-crested Cormorant's numbers decreased in the 1960s due to the effects of DDT. Colonies have also been persecuted from time to time in areas where they are thought to compete with human fishing.
Recently the population of Double-crested Cormorants has increased. Some studies have concluded that the recovery was allowed by the decrease of contaminants, particularly the discontinued use of DDT. The population may have also increased because of aquaculture ponds in its southern wintering grounds. The ponds favor good over-winter survival and growth." Source: Wikipedia
Cormorants surprisingly have webbed feet. They also need to get out of the water and dry off their feathers because they aren't 'water proof' like ducks and geese. I watched one a couple of days ago with outstretched wings sitting high up on a tree branch drying his feathers under the warm sun. (See photo above.) They primarily feed off fish, which puts them on the sh%$ list for some humans who find them too competitive. I get tired of the attitude that the earth's bounty is only for humans....
"Great and snowy egrets, some of the most beautiful and bizarre birds found in America,
were stalked by hunters for their long, soft breeding feathers to satisfy a nineteenth century
fashion trend. In the 1890’s, outraged by the resultant destruction of the egret hunts, a
group of Boston society women began gathering over tea to discuss what steps should be
taken to save the birds and their habitat. From these talks the modern Audubon Society was
born." Source: http://www.farallones.org/e_newsletter/2006-05/egrets.htm
"Coyotes have long been one of the most controversial of all non-game animals. Agricultural interests have urged its control by whatever means necessary so that actual and potential livestock losses may be eliminated. Since 1891, when the first programs aimed at control were begun in California, nearly 500,000 coyotes have been reported destroyed at a cost of an estimated $30 million of the taxpayers' money.
Environmentalists firmly believe that the coyotes are necessary to preserve the balance of nature. Some sportsmen feel the coyote is responsible for the declines in game species. Biologists agree that individual animals preying on livestock and poultry should be destroyed but that the species as a whole is not necessarily harmful, because much of its diet is made up of destructive rodents. Biologists also agree that coyote populations have no lasting effects on other wildlife populations. So the controversy rages on.
Coyotes have recently been classified as non-game animals in California and may be killed throughout the year under the authority of a hunting license." Source: http://www.trailsafe.org/coyotefacts.htm READ MORE AT: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/maps/brochures/coyotes.pdf
This was my first sighting (above) of a pelican in Colorado. I don't typically frequent the suburban parks and lakes this time of year because I'm usually heading to the mountains where I spend several months. There are no pelicans at 10,000 in the Rocky Mountains. I look forward to getting much better pelican pictures in the future. These are such beautiful birds -- something right out of a story book to me.
"It might seem to be impossible for birds of their size to float on top of the water, but the American White Pelican has the advantage of air-filled bones and air sacs that are located in their bodies. In contrast to other pelican species that dive from great heights to catch food, the White Pelican simply glides around, scooping fish out the water with its immense pouch. As the pelican is bound to scoop as much water as he does fish, the pouch is able to hold about 3 gallons of water. And instead of swallowing gallons of water with his meal, he bends his bill downward to drain the water, and then lifts his head up, to let his catch slide down his throat. An adult American White Pelican can eat approximately four pounds of fish a day, with preferred choices being that of jackfish, shiners, catfish, carp and yellow perch." Source: http://www.birds.com/species/a-b/american-white-pelican/
"As the name might suggest, the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is predominantly white in color with black plumage on its wings, and is approximately 60 inches in length with a 110 inch wingspan. They have very long, orange bills with pouches on their lower mandibles, and short legs with large webbed feet. Another very unique characteristic of the American White Pelican’s beak is that males develop a fibrous plate on the upper part of their beaks during the mating season. (You can barely see it in the photo above. I was wondering what that was when I took the picture!)
The American White Pelican is an extremely social bird, and is always found in colonies, or in the company of a friend. They are also family orientated, and therefore they will breed and rear their families in the safety of the colony. They tend to nest on islands and quiet areas, where the female can lay two to four white eggs, with a one month incubation period. Nests are built on the ground, using grass, reeds and sticks. Both parents take an active role in the rearing of their young, as both male and female pelicans will participate in feeding. The adult birds are very quiet, with the exception of the occasional grunt. The young however, will make themselves heard by squealing noisily." Source: http://www.birds.com/species/a-b/american-white-pelican/
Here's an excerpt: "We're all interconnected on this planet. I believe it's important to understand what that means and how all life matters. I cherish learning about the life that surrounds me in my own 'backyard'." READ MORE
A couple of days ago, I watched this Egret catch a fish on Coronado Bay. With much patience, it stood very still, like a cat waiting to pounce on a mouse. When the prey was perfectly poised, the Egret snatched it up out of the shallow pool of water between the rocks. It happened so fast! I got one picture as the fish flopped in its beak and another as he swallowed, but both pictures were a bit blurry from all the quick action and my unsteady hands. The photo above came out okay. I love those feet!
If you follow my blog, you already know how much I enjoy observing birds and animals in their natural habitat. I find that it's a beautiful way to "be present" in life and it's especially healing when life is challenging. I love watching birds in flight. I'm often reminded of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. What a great read. I was 16 when I first fell in love with that book. I think birds really do enjoy flying. I certainly enjoy watching them.
When I go to the beach, it's the birds, as much as the waves that I enjoy watching. As we say goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010, I leave you with this quote by Henry Elli: "All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on."
Happy New Year!
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