Ganders, Tanagers and Swimming with the Dog

May 9th, 2009

It rained so much yesterday that I saw a creek running through the garden.  Thank goodness I made the rows perpendicular to the slope below… the water just ran out the ends and under a fence.  We previously had a nice dry couple of days, but now I think it has rained non-stop since yesterday. Finally the sun broke free of cloud this afternoon and it was a beautiful evening, transitioning to a full moon… I love bright, full moon nights in the country. It’s almost like stepping back in time, or looking into some strange other world.

It’s not a strange world here for the geese- they seem to have made themselves right at home, and the little goslings are growing bigger everyday.  They had the nerve to be up near the top of the hill yesterday, a stone’s throw to the barn, ripping out grass by the rootfuls!  With visions of eroding hillsides in mind, I called our little hunter, the foxy looking japanese Shiba, and ran around toward the barn hoping he could chase the geese into the water.  The geese knew something was afoot and half waddled and bumbled their way down the hill to the pond at high-goose-speed.  They would never have let him get very close- a big 30 pound goose will beat a dog up pretty good with it’s wings and beak!  I knew they’d make it to the pond as the shiba took his time, trotting toward the water with a gleam in his eye. 

Canada Geese with Goslings

After the geese plopped into the water, the Big Daddy Gander puffed up and stretched his neck, honking loudly in protest at this intrusion by such a fox-like creature, with Mother Goose and the goslings following a few yards behind.  The shiba wandered along the shoreline, looking wistfully at these floating bundles of feathers, and the big goose followed him step-for-step just out of reach off shore badgering the little dog.  Eventually the shiba tired of the noisy scolding and went on his way.  The geese seemed “proudly placated” and swam away.   They seem to know we’re only temporary guests in their native aquatic home. 

Birds are making quite a showing this spring, and yesterday was no exception as I saw a flash of red behind the house.  After a quick double-take, I realized it was brighter than the red of our resident cardinals.  And there he was- the Summer Tanager was back, calling and watching me.  I was admiring his color and sound when I remembered I had a camera in my hand!  Such a beautiful bird, they really only pass through for a couple weeks, and eat many bugs- especially wasps and bees!  “Look out girls, the tanagers are here!!!”


Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote about Summer Tanagers on a Warm Day, and was lucky to have captured some of the most beautiful bird pictures that I’ve taken- those of the male and female Summer Tanager sitting in an oak tree near the house.   I had never seen the female’s yellow green coloration before, and those pictures are two of my favorites.

Not to be outdone by the geese swiming in the water, the young boy seemed to think summer was already here.  School’s out in a couple weeks, so that’s understandable.  But he wandered down near the pond a couple days ago while I was planting tree seedlings…  all he had on were his swim shorts and he carried a floatie.  There I was- shovel in hand, covered in dirt, sweat and untold chiggers and ticks, and all I could think of was that I’d really like to be swimming too (the pond wasn’t my first choice).  

Actually, I chuckled when he said “I’m going swimming!”  And I said, “In the pond? Now? It’s kinda cold in there…”  He didn’t seem to care and I didn’t want to discourage him.  The geese have really only been here a few times, and the area was clean enough.  Otherwise I wouldn’t let him swim.  “Well, what did Mom say?” I asked.  He said, “Well, she was in the asparagus patch and I just kinda walked by her and waved.”   She later thought he was very cute in his swim shorts, not thinking he was serious about swimming in the pond just before dinner.  We went back and got his life jacket since he’s not really at deep-water swimming strength yet.  We let her know, and then back to the pond where he got a good 5-10 minutes of paddling fun in the water.  

Boy and Yellow Lab in pond

He didn’t say, but it sure looked colder than he thought it would be…  Of course the yellow lab wasn’t just going to watch,  he dove right in too!  I had to give the boy credit- it’s a little early in the season for pond swimming in my book, but he sure had a quick bit of fun.   And me?  I’ll get there this summer, but for now I wasn’t quite ready to make the Leap of Faith into that cold water!

7 Responses to “Ganders, Tanagers and Swimming with the Dog”

  1. Ah, pond swimming. The time is coming! I saw an indigo bunting at Roundrock on my last visit. It’s all around us.

  2. R. Sherman

    You’re pond is in such great shape, it’ll be perfect this summer for taking afternoon dips — and so much more interesting otherwise, than a mere swimming pool.


  3. Kids have so much fun swimming in less-than-ideal water. We tend to be so over-protective of Kiddo… but then I think about leaping off step-ladders into 2″ of water when we were kids… hehe…

    Hopefully the weather will warm enough for us adults to enjoy the water one of these days. :)


  4. Pablo- Indigo buntings are just beautiful. I would really love to see a Painted Bunting someday… one for the life list.

    R.S.- Hopefully it stays that way until July or so!

    Ron- I’m the same way… now he’s saying, “Daaadddy…” with exasperation whenever I wear my safety hat. Which is still pretty often! I’ll be in the water around July when it’s reeeaally hot :)

  5. I like your boy’s sense of adventure–Geese can be annoying especially when they take over. The only thing worse are the swans that people have started using to keep geese away, they’re beautiful but really mean!

  6. I love the picture of your boy swimming with his dog. How lovely to see a modern child taking pleasure in the outdoors instead of glued to an Ipod and computer. (Of course, having written that, I recognize the irony of the fact that I’m glued to a computer at this very moment) :-) And you are a fortunate person indeed to have seen a summer tanager. We’ve never had one here—I’d be beside myself with excitement if we did! We’ve had many birds this year, but I’m still listening for the song of the wood thrush. It’s my favorite bird and I find listening to its song almost a spiritual experience.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog. I’ve enjoyed so much my visit to yours.

  7. Sage- Wow, I didn’t know swans would be like that. Thankfully our geese come and go to area ponds, but we’ve got a new visitor now…
    Beth- Thanks very much for your thoughts and visit. A wood thrush! I haven’t seen or heard one in years- I need to try and remember their call.

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