Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Greenbriar Lake shore

Continuing our walk around Greenbrier State Park we eventually came to the far shore and the sandy beach that you can see in the distance. It is that white stretch. One of the first things I noticed was all the Canada Geese tracks in the sand. The are about 4 inches long and often you can see the nail prints at the tips. Dogs also have nail prints in their tracks. Look in the photo below and you will see a good example with the nail in the bottom track. See the middle claw with the point, that is the nail.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) belong to the genus Branta. Canadensis means “of Canada”.  They are 30-43 inches long with a wingspan of 50-71 inches. I am five feet nine inches tall so if I laid down a Canada Goose could sit on me and almost cover me up completely with its wings spread out. But I am not going to try that because my experience with these birds is a history of stepping in a lot of goose poop and I don’t want to lay in it just to demonstrate how big they are. If you are from the Mid-Atlantic Region of the US you know what I mean.

The females are a little lighter than the males and a little smaller. They also have a different honk. Next time you see a pair together listen to them calling back and forth and you will hear the difference. At first you think it is just one calling because the calls are so close together like a “honkhonk” pause then “honkhonk” instead of a “honk” pause “honk” pause “honk” pause “honk”.

In the wild they can live between 10-24 years during which time they mate for life or until death do them part. The female lay 3-8 eggs and both parents defend and incubate the eggs. During this time they lose their flight feathers until the eggs hatch. I guess the adaptation process figures that those feathers wouldn’t be used anyway so why not replace them during that short period.

There were no geese to be seen in the park while I was there so I guess they were in the surrounding fields feeding and would return in the evening to sit out the night on the water. Often I see them flying in that familiar “V” formation heading for their favorite roosting site. From the look of all the tracks in the sand this spot looks like the favorite for a great many.


Quilt Works said...

great idea to capture the foot prints! Pretty, interesting, a bit like abstract art!

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J Bar said...

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Gaelyn said...

I really like the shots of the geese tracks. Don't blame you about the poop thing. I remember how thick the grass would be with that in Seattle. Very cool that they have different honks.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire: said...

I spend so much of my time learning about the more exotic life forms I come across that I sometimes forget about the common varieties I see every day. Great info. And great foot prints!

And re: goose poop, I once spent an entire day trying to remove all the goose poop from my old, large, and very hairy Bernese Mountain dog mix. How he loved to roll in that greasy gross stuff.

Martina said...

I might not comment much - but I always read and admire your interesting postings. You got one of the most informative blogs in my blogroll - and the photos are always nice, too, :-)

MyMaracas said...

Love the goose tracks. Great idea to photograph those. And I know what you mean about the mess. A flock of geese recently created a minefield in the parking lot at work. You wouldn't believe a bird could leave a mess that big.