Date: 2/3/18 7:27 pm From: Matt Cahill <matt.c.cahill...> Subject: [COBOL] Emperor Goose at Hatfield, and Ducking at Dusk
The news nugget here is that the emperor goose is spending this evening on the first pond at Hatfield in the company of a dozen white-fronts and many Canadas.
For those who don't mind some pulp to these posts, I've got a fun story to join this sighting.
I tried today a couple times to find the fabled goose. First on the way to Smith Rock and then on the way back. (Smith Rock highlights: 80 rosy-finches swirling around the top of Misery Ridge, offering sporadic but quality views, sometimes all together in a juniper, canyon wrens sending their remarkable songs down the canyonsides, and kestrel courtship)
Come evening with two busts down, I thought I'd see if the goose would just come to me. The first Hatfield pond was quiet when I arrived at the point, about 5:20. A couple hoodies, two redheads and a common goldeneye joined the ruddies, buffleheads and ring-necks. Surprisingly, zero mallards. Pond surveyed, I turned to watch the sunset and await the goose.
Was it ever a fantastic sunset. The whole sky participated - every direction had it's own interpretation of color and light. As the peak pastels began to fade, the first ducks began to arrive, high and slow, taking their time to circle the pond and land deliberately. Timestamp: 5:44.
At first, mallards, five at a time. But the numbers ratcheted up - 20, 40, 60 ducks filing in from the southwest. The first geese arrived, all CAGOs - timestamp: 5:49. The sky kept dimming and the ducks kept coming, now lower and faster. Soon squadrons were slicing in just over the junipers, cutting around me and crashing, no brakes, into the lake.
The pond got noisy with whistles, laugher, cackles and croaking, along with weird groans I couldn't ID. The incoming ducks were plummeting so fast and so low I started to worry about being hit. The night was calm, the shooting range silent and the planes mostly landed, so the only sounds left were the ducks. And what sounds! At that speed and proximity there was richness, almost tones to the wings slicing the dark sky, as if I could hear each primary working against a slightly different current.
The ducks tapered. It was getting dark. I began to lose hope. (Feel the drama here folks). Timestamp: 5:55. In the last slice of bright western sky, a line of big, slow, trumpeting geese appeared. As they neared, they doubled, then tripled. Mixed among the Canada honks were higher, squeakier squawks. About a dozen smaller, darker geese followed over my head and onto the pond.
I turned to my scope, let my eye catch up to the dim, then scanned the pond. Mallards, mallards, mallards, more mallards. And then geese! First the Canadas, then the white-fronts (turns out their name fits them best at dusk: dark corks with glowing brows). And in the middle of them all a white head bobbing in the dark water.
Forgive the length here - I had too much fun this evening not to share. Back at the car by 6:08 I left to a pair of great horns dueting.