Highlights of 2016, part 6–geese & swans

Canada Geese with Cackling Goose
The Cackling Goose is much smaller than its cousins. There are so many subspecies, even among Cacklers that I can’t tell apart. Click to enlarge in a new tab.

To begin with, let me say that “geese in the Okanagan Valley” is a very controversial subject, with opinions varying from “How nice to have so many of these great Canadian symbols in our back yard” to “Kill off all of these pests fouling [which is different from fowling] our beaches and playing fields!” For a pretty fair assessment of the issue and its debaters, have a look at this article from The Capital News, July 2015. It explains that, in the first place, Canada Geese are not native to the Okanagan Valley. They were introduced by well-meaning folks in the 1960s (according to the article) and have flourished [or dominated] here ever since. Goose management is now a major concern of almost everyone in the Valley.

That said, for birders, there are several varieties of geese, including several subspecies of Canadas, and accidental Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese noted here every year. A few photos will suffice to illustrate what we see….

Last spring, I was privileged, I felt, to find a Canada Goose nesting just across the brook in Thomson Marsh. Although I kept checking on her, I missed the hatching, and the parents and their offspring either moved to a safer location or suffered predation. One never knows. It was interesting to see the gander a few meters away seemingly keeping watch. He wasn’t there all the time, however, unlike goose pairs I’ve observed in other places. And oddly, one day, there was a Mallard drake stationed only a few meters away from the goose on her nest. Not quite sure what he was looking for…. Click images to enlarge.

Swans visit the valley in winter, a mix of Trumpeters and Tundras. I didn’t photograph any of the former last year (and not for political reason, I must add, though that might have been a subconscious factor), but got some pleasing images of a young Tundra family in Okanagan Lake near Maude Roxby Sanctuary.  Click images to enlarge.

In the spring, the Snow Goose that stayed for several weeks at the Thomson Farm (just south of the Marsh named for this farm family that donated the land that made the marsh sustainable) was accompanied by this lonely Tundra Swan. It was quite independent yet capable of getting along with the small flock of geese and its white cousin. It will be interesting to see if we have a similar situation this spring….  Click images to enlarge.



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