• Dale Bowman

Really counting geese: Ramble with the Lady

Quick, how many geese would you guess in the photo?

Over the years, I think that I have become fairly good at estimating bird or animal numbers. Every once in a while I get a reality check.

As Lady and I came up on the south old clay pit this morning, Canada geese waddled into the water and I did a quick estimate. I came up with four dozen or maybe 50.

Well, after we crossed the bridge over the neckdown between the two pits and past the grotty hedge apples on the east side of the south pit, I did an actual count on the geese and found 74. My margin of error was maybe 1 or 2, but I think I was dead on.

That's pretty far off on my estimate, roughly 50 percent short.

I noticed that geese started pouring into the area since the snowstorm. Because we live south of the city, we had half or less or the foot-plus of snow that they had north of the city. I think that was enough snow to push some geese south to us.

And now our snow is nearly melted off. I am curious whether the geese will stick or head back north.

The snow melted off enough that I decided, as we crossed the side rail separating the town from the wildness of the town pond, to push out a full extended ramble of two miles plus this morning.

Good dawn nearing as we circled back and saw the geese. I suspect that had something to do with the kids having off today, so I was in no rush to ramble off with Lady, our family's mutt, and it was nearer to sunrise than when we usually go this time of the year.

I would bet the last of the snow on the island on the south pit will be gone by noon today.

The surprises were not done. A woodcock of all things flew off from the shore of the north pit. A lone wood duck flew overhead and, out on the far north end of the north pit, a great blue heron flapped off.

We came out of the wilds around the town pond and back to the edge of town as the sun broke the horizon and blazed around the grain elevators. (Yes, hello, Charles Demuth.)

Lady stalked a gray squirrel by the maple next to the decorative fruit trees a block north. I am amazed by her hunting skills. She circled around the opposite of the tree the squirrel climbed up and almost caught it.

What she would have done if she caught it I have no idea. For that matter, I have no idea what I would have done.

Back home, a blue jay squawked down the street.

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