Friday, May 29, 2015

The Goose on top of the Barn

Less than a mile from my home is a towering chimney rock formation called Donald Rock, named for a family who first settled in the area nearly 200 years ago.  I remember there being a wayside on the road below the rock in the 1960's where visitors could park and admire or climb the rock. Local teenagers found Donald Rock to be a delightful place to skip school, scramble up, and hang out. This sort of activity, along with liability issues, eventually forced the removal of the wayside. Over the years, I'd still see an occasional climber or turkey vulture up there, but the rock slowly became obscured by trees--as seen in the photo below, taken during peak color a few fall seasons ago.

In early spring of this year, volunteers from nearby Donald Park began to clear the trees and invasive shrubs, restoring the view of Donald Rock. It's wonderful to see the majestic rock so well once again--it's always been one of the special points of interest of my rural neighborhood.


Since I drive by on a daily basis, my eye is naturally drawn to the newness of the scene. That's when I started to notice a Canada Goose with a penchant for a barn-top view. You can see the goose in the photos above and below.


I've never seen a goose stand on top of a barn before. It was funny to me, and it made driving by even more interesting. On some days the goose was standing on the top of the rock.

A few weeks ago, I drove by on a Tuesday morning while the Donald Park volunteers were at work. It was a busy scene of several (mostly retired) men chopping, hauling brush, and stacking wood. And there was the goose, on top of the rock, intently watching the activity below. I wondered if the workers noticed the goose.

I found my answer the following Tuesday. On that morning, the men had stopped working and were watching with curiosity not one, but two geese dramatically defending the top of the rock from a pair of turkey vultures who had tried to land there. Were the geese defending a nest, I wondered?  It didn't seem like a likely nest site for geese.  In the photo below, the geese stand guard from both vantage points.

After that day, I rarely saw the geese on the top of Donald Rock, but more often on a lower perch, as you can see, if you look closely, in the photos below (you can click on any photo to enlarge it). The trees are beginning to leaf out nicely.

Now it's now almost June, Donald Rock is surrounded by summer greenery, and the volunteer work is done. I always look, but sadly, I don't see geese there at all any more. Still, in my mind, questions remain. Did the geese really build a nest way up there? Were turkey vultures raiding the nest on the summit that day? And if so, did the geese leave to find a better place to raise a second brood? 

I guess I'll never know for sure. What I do know is this: I'm going to miss seeing a goose on top of that barn.   

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

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