Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stand on guard: Canada geese at Piper Spit

Bill managed to get a few shots of these newly-hatched goslings at Burnaby Lake yesterday. These are little fluffballs, still with their golden coat on.

If you get too close to the babies, there is a certain sequence of events. Unlike ducks, where only the female hangs around, geese guard their young in pairs. The sentry duck raises its head and stiffens its neck, then begins to nod its head up and down vigorously, then lowers its head and kinks its neck. The next step, you don't want to see - it charges at the enemy full-on. Swans have been known to kill people, so I don't think a riled Canada goose can be far behind.

Newly-hatched mallard chicks seem to go into the water immediately, but you usually see these little guys on the ground. That might explain their parents' zealous guarding behaviour. Either that, or they're just being Canada geese ("we stand on guard" - oh no - that's the second time I've said that).

We didn't get a shot of this, but there was a mother duck with thirteen newly-hatched ducklings swimming around in the warm, shallow waters of Piper Spit. This is a place we "discovered" maybe ten years ago, then it was blocked off for construction and we almost forgot about it. But every few years I'd ask Bill, "Remember that place - where was it? It had a great big boardwalk with a round thing at the end, and there were ducks just swarming all around it." "I dunno." Then I'd shove it back into the dreamscape that makes up 85% of my mind.

Then we got lost recently, and ended up at. .  . 

"This is Burnaby Lake," Bill said. "Remember? We came here once."

Oh Lord. Here it was, the big boardwalk with the round thing (a circular dock) at the end, the hordes of wildlife, songbirds, ducks, geese. . . shallow warm water and people feeding the birds, which is not a good idea, but which draws them magnetically.

We had found it, by God, or re-found it. I had not imagined it. Looking up information on it, we discovered were on the Piper Spit boardwalk. There was a colony of birdhouses nearby, and tons of red-winged blackbirds, which might be making families in there. These are nearly tame enough to eat out of your hand.

Best of all is the birdsong, the wildlife sounds which calm my brain. Urban life is noisy, and the noise is ugly. It jars. This heals, and restores. 

What does it mean when Paradise Lost is found again? 

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