Monday, September 1, 2008

Honk on Approach

We're fortunate enough to have a storm pond behind our house that is home to a multitude of wildlife: foxes, deer, herons, ducks, and geese. At this time of year, nature seems to be winding down, though she is still flush with greenery, gnats, swarms of termites, and warm weather. We're enjoying every moment possible out on our deck, which overlooks the pond. The dogs join us and take turns either barking at neighbors (who are ensconced in their own homes) or biting at the tree limbs that reach up to the deck and above.

Tonight we saw a formation of geese coming in from the north, approaching high in the darkening sky. They looked too high, in fact, to be interested in our pond at first. But they made a lazy circle around the area, flying directly over us, with one goose -- out front -- honking back directions. Those in formation would answer, "Aye, aye, sir!"

Arcing to the north again, the formation was silent except for the leader. He threw down his landing gear and the formation followed. Honking rhythmically, he led the formation into a precipitous and rapid drop to the pond below, arising a slight roar of the water as their feet taxi'd them to a short stop. They sat in a group for a few minutes, talking in low honks to each other, and then turned and paddled toward the geese and ducks waiting on the shore.

"I guess the leader is the air traffic controller," I said to hubby, who is a pilot.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"I wonder how they decide who gets the job?"

"You know all those fights out here?" We nodded in unison. Naturally there was a pecking order.

"We seem to think we've cornered the market on technological advancements, and we're just doing what nature's done for centuries and beyond."

"They do maneuvers just like we do in airplanes. That was a short field landing they just did," he said. "And when the wind is blowing, they turn and head into it, just like you do with a plane."

We enjoyed the dying evening with the dogs and the geese for a while longer. As we sat there, a blue heron flew in and landed in the uppermost branches of a willow. Hubby could see the heron turning his head to and fro, though I couldn't quite make him out in the dim light. Tomorrow I'll see him out there fishing, taking giant, slow steps through the marshes as he seeks his prey.

It's an amazing world.

Peace - D


the walking man said...

Detroit has urban wildlife as well...when the rats and possum learn to fly south for the winter maybe I'll fill my next door neighbors yard with a resting place for them in the hope that they take the neighbors along on their flight south.

Shrinky said...

Aww, that's a beautiful, peaceful picture you paint there from your back porch. Lovely, now those are the type of guests you don't mind dropping by without notice, huh?

Jay said...

Beautiful! Very evocative post!

I was under the impression that geese take it in turns to be leader, so spread the stress around. It's harder to fly at the head of the V, so they 'spell' each other, and - as you say - keep in communication with honking. They're quite sophisticated, aren't they? :)

'The leader threw down his landing gear'

I love that! Great visual!

RiverPoet said...

Walking Man - My hubby is from Detroit, also. (And I hope your neighbors move!)

Shrinky - Thanks! Yes, these visitors are always welcome.

Jay - I'll be doggone! You're absolutely right! (I looked it up). Geese are pretty cool, aren't they? Glad you liked the post....

Peace - D

Employee No. 3699 said...

I'm jealous, I want your backyard!

Thank you for painting that picture with your words.

Akelamalu said...

How wonderful to have wildlife like that in your back yard. We get the occasional fox, that's about it!

Daryl said...

I am sort of confused ... the kitchen you were re-doing overlooked a parking lot and pool .. was that a post set in the past? In any case that's so cool that you can sit out on the deck/porch and watch nature!


Sandy said...

I'll have to find and send you the piece about geese and how they form and fly. It's called Lessons From Geese.

I'm so glad you stopped by my spot!

RiverPoet said...

3699 - If you're ever in town, come over for a visit!

Akela - You're in Hawaii, right? I never saw a fox when I was there. I'm not all that familiar with the wildlife there, but I suspect it's varied! Not all marine species.

Daryl - I can understand the confusion. We have a great building in a townhouse complex. In front is the driveway, a small yard, a visitors' parking lot, and the pool/clubhouse. Out back is our deck, a small fenced yard, and this wonderful pond. The view was one of the reasons we bought it. Tonight we watched the big heron out there fishing at dusk.

Sandy - I look forward to reading your post about geese! I learned a lot today!

Peace - D

CrazyCath said...

A beautiful peaceful picture you paint. And hubby is right, we are just mimicking what nature has done for centuries, millenia. Amazing to watch.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Any time you can sit and just BE is wonderful. To sit and watch how life moves around us is even better. Lovely post!

Hilary said...

Seems we're both in heron-mode this week. Beautifully told, as always. :)

Lavinia said...

Yes, it is an amazing world, and your observant eye catches all of the wonder that you behold. You have the writer and the poet's eye...that is apparent from your writing. The details, the atmosphere...all captured so well!

RiverPoet said...

Cath - Thanks, hon'! How kind of you!

NATUI - Can't wait to have you visit and enjoy the view with me!

Hilary - Thanks! Yes, I loved your nod to the heron, as well.

Lavinia - Thank you! It's funny but since I had my close brush with death in early 2007, I have been more outdoorsy, sopping up every experience of nature that I can. It's made me really appreciate this world.

Peace - D