As the days get longer, love is in the air and this includes the world of geese. Suddenly the geese get very territorial both about potential mates and potential nesting locations. Fights can break out with very little warning. One of the geese in Juanita Bay was definitely in no mood for any competition. It was taking on anyone that happened to be in the way, whether they were a threat or not. Not just one at a time, either. A few other geese were in the area and they each got a dose of its attitude.
The flurry of activity when geese start sparring can often be intense but brief. In this case, the aggravation continued for quite a while. One goose would lunge at the others and they would settle again before he came at them once more. Much splashing of water, flapping of wings, honking and waving of tongues ensued. The goose that was chasing the others would be mouth open and tongue out as it charged at them. The tongue is a nasty looking thing on a goose. Lots of barbs on its surface.
After a few charges back and forth across the inlet, the others started to get the message. They took off and headed across the bay. The main goose was not satisfied yet, though. He took off after them and chased them well across the bay before deciding that the message had been received upon which he returned to the inlet to be ready for the next round of intruders.
I was riding along the Sammammish River Trail back in to Woodinville one weekend when the noise of geese suddenly filled the air. On the other side of the river from the trail are fields which often are filled with geese feeding. A large flock was gathered there on this day but their grazing had been interrupted by the arrival of a bald eagle. It flew across the area and barely changed course as it did so but it certainly startled the geese and they all took to the air.
They flew around in circles for a while waiting for the eagle to get safely out of the area. Then they gradually calmed down and more and more of them settled back in to the fields to resume eating. However, this was a slow process as they had clearly been spooked and weren’t going to relax easily. This was all starting as I cycled up but I did manage to pull my phone out and get a bit of video of this happening so here is the brief burst of excitement before things settled down again.
While on the terrace at Future of Flight, I saw a Goose parked up over near the FBO. I had mixed feelings since it was interesting that it was there but I was disappointed I didn’t know it had come in and had missed the arrival. You can imagine how happy I was to see it taxi out a short while later. It made a mid flight departure so was still reasonably low as it came past. The dark paint might have Ben a problem on a cloudy northwest day but we had sun so it showed up nicely. Only as I looked at the shots afterwards did I realize that it was a turboprop conversion rather than a piston-engined plane. Oh to see it on the water!
We took a day trip up to Fir Island. It is about an hour north of us and a popular place for bird watchers. While we are not particularly knowledgeable about such things, we did know that Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans were supposed to appear in some numbers so we decided to see what we could come across while we were up there. It was a lovely day to be out with a clear blue sky and the warmth that an autumnal sun can still bring. We happened to bump in to a couple of friends of mine and they knew the area well so were able to give us some advice on where to go.
It didn’t take too long to find some Snow Geese. These are apparently a big draw in the area for bird watchers and later in the season the place can be heaving with them. We didn’t see a lot of people so it must have been early. There has been a program to encourage land owners to grow crops that support the birds when they migrate through and it seems to have worked. We saw a bunch of geese across the fields and then, as we drove north, a bunch more were in the fields along the road. More of them seemed to be flying in all the time. Obviously whatever they like to eat is there to be had!
Spring is the season for new life. The geese had obviously been taking the task to heart because, as we walked around Bloedel Reserve, there was a large gathering of goslings. It appeared to be that several families were mingling together. I guess strength comes in numbers. The adults were all grazing around the periphery of the group while the multitude of goslings were munching away in the middle.
When we were in Seattle a week later, we came across more goslings. A smaller group this time but the same thing with the adults keeping an eye on them. A couple were getting a bit more adventurous and heading off on their own but they were soon brought back into line. I wonder how many predators geese have. I guess hawks will be happy to take them out but the numbers might explain why there are so many geese wherever you go these days.
Pinal Air Park is located northwest of Tucson. A number of business operate there. It used to be a location for Evergreen International. They carried out a number of programs of a spooky nature which meant there was strict security controlling access to the area. Evergreen have gone bust so now the airport is a lot less restricted. The hangars and ramp areas are still controlled but the roads around the field are now freely accessible.
The airport is used for active operators but also for storage of airframes. Some of these are planes that are clearly not going to be making it back into the air again. They are either old enough to not be in demand or of a type that has more value in the spare parts they contain than as a complete airframe. That isn’t the case for all of them though. Many of them are stored awaiting another operator finding a use for them. Consequently, you see a variety of aircraft from old TWA 747s to unmarked A330s.
While I was there, a Pratt and Whitney 747SP engine testbed was visible on one ramp while the Global Supertanker 747-400 was not far away. There were also some stored Grumman Goose aircraft (should that be Geese?) that looked like they weren’t moving for a while. A turbine Caribou was on the ramp obscured by a CASA 212. Plenty of variety. This would certainly be a fun place to tour with someone that has good access.
During a short break on a trip to Seattle, I was visiting a spot that has an aviation theme which should come as no surprise to anyone. While I was down at the south end of Lake Union, I was surrounded by geese. Since geese are unbelievably abundant these days, that is not so unusual. What I hadn’t counted on was that spring gets to Seattle a lot earlier than it does Chicago. As a result, one pair of geese already had a bunch of goslings in tow.
They looked pretty young and got a lot of attention from passers by. I am not immune to cute baby animals so grabbed a few shots of the family as they wandered around. It might not be quite kittens playing with balls of yarn but I guess I am getting close!