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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Birth‏

April 24th, 2011 · 8 Comments

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When I came home late on Good Friday, I had already had several long days of satisfactory photography. I had spent the entire afternoon at Carolyn Holmberg Preserve and at Twin Lakes, while the previous day I was shooting at Sawhill Ponds.

At Twin Lakes I got my best shot yet of one of the Great Horned Owlets that I had been watching for weeks.

A Great Horned Owlet

A Great Horned Owlet

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At Sawhill Ponds I had been watching a pair of Ospreys on their nest. One flew off to pick up some more nesting material.

An Osprey Carrying a Stick

An Osprey Carrying a Stick

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This is the season for many species of birds besides raptors to be born in Boulder. And I have been even more diligently watching another drama unfold even closer to home.

Almost every day for the previous three weeks I have been waiting for a Canada Goose to give birth. She chose the small wooden raft on Tantra Lake in view of my apartment to lay her eggs.

As I watched her patiently keeping her eggs warm night and day, in weather hot and cold, and in snow, wind, and gusts of rain, my sympathy with the hardships of her motherhood greatly increased. This shot on March 29 came after the first of three snowstorms during the incubation of her eggs.

Sitting Out the Snow

Sitting Out the Snow

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Not until March 31 did I see the eggs. After that, I often stuck around long enough to see her to get up and rearrange them. What a thrill!

She Apparently Laid Five Eggs

She Apparently Laid Five Eggs

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Mallards often joined mama goose on the little raft. They ignored each other.

A Pair of Mallards Visit

A Pair of Mallards Visit

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On April 4 another duck that I had never seen before joined her there. A few minutes later this duck was swimming back in the lake.

A Wood Duck Visits Tantra Lake

A Wood Duck Visits Tantra Lake

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For a long time I thought that the Canada Goose was a single mother. In fact, her mate hung around the lake, but didn’t visit her until April 10.

On that afternoon the weather was warm, so she went off briefly with her mate, leaving the nest unattended for the first time.

Reunited with Her Mate

Reunited with Her Mate

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Four days later he visited her again. And again she returned to the nest about half an hour later.

Returning to the Nest

Returning to the Nest

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Then, more than a week passed with little action on the raft. The Canada Goose diligently kept her eggs warm.

On the morning of Good Friday I went out to see if the goslings had hatched. I was growing concerned because the eggs were supposed to be hatched already, and that morning she seemed to be getting sloppy in protecting them from the cold.

Getting Sloppy?

Getting Sloppy?

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I was even more concerned because of the tragic failure here of this or another Canada Goose two years ago. I wrote about that tragedy then.

When I returned to Tantra Lake on Good Friday from getting the photo of the Great Horned Owlet above, the light was fading and so was my energy. But I went to see the Canada Goose anyway. From a distance I could see that she was not on the raft. I ran there, approaching with trepidation.

My worst fears seemed to have been realized. With my new external flash and Better Beamer for distance I was devastated to see that the eggs were cracked and she was gone.

Cracked!

Cracked!

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In the growing darkness I didn’t see the Canada Goose. But then I looked around, and she and her mate were sitting calmly right beside me.

“You failed! You failed!” I told her repeatedly.

Then, two goslings popped out from under her wings!

The Goslings Were No More than 12 Hours Old

The Goslings Were No More than 12 Hours Old

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I wasn’t able to see them again until yesterday evening, because I had to leave before sunrise for a scheduled photo tour of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Reserve. But when I returned that evening, I made sure to look for them even before going into my apartment.

I couldn’t find them! Finally, after walking all the way around the lake, there they were, on the grass by the lakeshore right in front of my apartment. For the first time I saw that all five eggs had hatched.

Mama Goose and Her Five Goslings

Mama Goose and Her Five Goslings

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The goslings still stuck close together when I visited them this Easter morning.

Three Goslings

Three Goslings

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They probably had to swim from the raft to shore just after their birth. I didn’t see that, but I was fortunate to witness them swim across the lake today.

Seven Geese All in a Row

Seven Geese All in a Row

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Now I look forward to watching the goslings continue to grow up and experience this world. This evening they are experiencing rain for the first time in their life. I know that they will grow up rapidly and, like us, soon forget the wonder of their birth.

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Posted in: Photography

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gretchen // May 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    David, Great goose story!

  • 2 Fran // May 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Oh, my gosh I love your photography, David! It brings a smile to my face daily. Hope you come to Canada sometime for all the photographic opportunities in the majestic Rocky Mountains, north of the 49th!

  • 3 David Mendosa // May 13, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Thank you. Actually, I hope to get there at the end of the month!

  • 4 Fran // May 13, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Oh wow! Will you be in Western Canada?

  • 5 David Mendosa // May 13, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Yes. I am in Portland now en route to Seattle where I will leave my SUV with a friend. From there I will fly to Juneau for a cruise on a small (33-passenger) ship through the Inland Passage. Then, I will return to Seattle near the end of May and drive to Glacier National Park and on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota through Western Canada. Do you have any specific recommendations of places I should visit or routes I should take?

  • 6 Fran // May 13, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Oh wow–you will end up very close to where I reside in the Crowsnest Pass, which is less than an hour west of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. It is a beautifully scenic and historic area that you really should not miss if you are that close. I can provide more information if you are interested.

    I don’t think the Going-To-The -Sun Road will be open in it’s entirety, however, prior to June 17th this year; the actual opening date is entirely weather dependent. There has been so much snowfall in this area this year so you will need to keep a close eye on the status reports.

    I would welcome the opportunity to meet you if you’re going to be that close and it works out. Keep me posted; feel free to email me privately. Best wishes on your journey, David!

  • 7 Fran Stearns // Jun 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Your young horned owl presents a real challenge-all browns with contrasting textures- to a watercolorist. But I’ll try.
    Q: Of course it doesn’t matter, but is that father goose or mother leading in their parade across the water?

  • 8 David Mendosa // Jun 2, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Fran,

    I don’t really know! It’s so hard to tell them apart.

    David

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