Bittersweet

And we come to the final instalment of this year’s Family Story. As I type, it is a grey, rainy, January day. Six months have gone by since the family’s last day here. So much has happened in that time, but going back to the family periodically has been such a joy.

July 27 saw the stretching and training go into overdrive. The displays were incredible to watch. These next shots were taken over a period of about 15 minutes

Such incredible power in those wings and legs. There must be to lift him off the earth.

What one adult begins, another must continue.

What I didn’t expect before breakfast was what happened next. The moment Dad’s Lieutenant began his wing exertions, the others all began as well. The honking and running were thrilling because I knew what was about to occur.

First Flight! One day, I’ll be able to get shots of this in focus. Hopefully. Still, what an incredible moment. The sixth first flight I’ve witnessed in the seven years we’ve lived here.

As soon as they were down and reassembled. Ralph and Alice took the Goslings for a swim to ease their muscles.

Once first flight had occured, I knew it was a matter of days before they all disappeared. I lived at my window on July 27, greedy for any sight of our family.

Such beauty.

The Canada Geese went into a full day of stretching. Almost every time I looked at them, there was some kind of stretch happening.

This year’s Baryshnigoose Award goes to:

Baryshnigoose

And that’s how the family ended its day, stretching.

July 28 dawned sunny, but you wouldn’t know from the shade at the front of the house where the family was at 8:25.

On the shady side.

Half an hour later, training began again.

As noon came and went, the day continued as it had begun, with feeding:

At one point during that afternoon, there was another flight. It happened too quickly for me to get my camera out, as I was just moving from the kitchen to the living room when it started, so I just watched. This time it was longer, beginning at the front of the house and crossing the entire lawn to the far pond. What a magnificent sight it was! Then I realised there was one Juvenile that was far behind the others; one who didn’t make it all the way across the lawn, landing half way across. I was certain it was Shy One, as she was never as strong as the others. Now, that lack of strength showed. It worried me.

They don’t walk with beaks to the ground as much anymore.

That evening they spent near my window. These are the last shots of this year’s Canada Goose Family as a whole.

Twelve hours later, at 7:00 in the morning on July 29, the lawn was empty, except for these two. From the slightly tired look around the eyes (which I could see in close-up) and the downiness of the chest feathers, I believe the one stretching is Shy One and the other, from the shape of his body, is possibly Ralph.

Shy One stretches while her guardian eats. She looks determined.

I kept waiting for the others to appear from the pond, but part of me knew what had happened. Since May 8, there had never been less than six or eight on that lawn at one time. The photo above was taken at 7:40 in the morning. The following photo was taken at 12:55. Shy One is alone.

12:55

My heart broke for her. How lonely she looked. She wandered all day, seeming to look for her family. I realise she’s a Goose and not a human, but that is how it seemed. You’ll see from this next gallery.

Shy One spent that entire day by herself. She was gone the next morning when I got up at about 7:00am. I hope that she flew to be with her family. I fear that fox got her. I will never really know, but I can say that I walked around the ponds that day and saw no telltale clumps of feathers, as there would surely have been had the fox got her.

Odd; six months later and my sense of fear for her safety is still quite strong. Shy One never really thrived as quickly as the others. She was a little smaller and she did have a look of strain about the eyes, as if she were always a bit tired. Weird, I know, but that’s how I always knew which one she was. I’m going on the premise that she’s alive and well and with her family.

I’ve cropped in the last shot of Shy One so you can see her a bit more closely.

I cannot fully express how privileged I feel that I’ve had the opportunity to observe this family over the years. It is all one family that keeps returning. Some of them know us from previous years when we interacted with them more. This year, we tried to keep our distance a bit so as not to distract parents from parenting. I know Alice recognised us, as did Norton. They all have distinct personalities and behaviours. I can only describe them in human terms, but my observations tell me I’m not far off the mark at times.

The other day, I’m sure I heard Canada Geese. In about six weeks, I’ll start seeing signs of a ‘new’ couple. I hope. There are no guarantees, but families do tend to return to the same pond year after year.

Thank you for sharing this year’s story with me. I know there were an awful lot of photos, but I hope you enjoyed them. I tried to give you the kind of experience I was having, watching them grow and seeing the tiny changes I was seeing every day. My mother’s computer was struggling to cope with the numbers! This year, I’ll try to be a bit more succinct. We’ll see what happens. I hope you’ll join me again.

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