The wild goose chase actually started yesterday at the wee hours of pre-dawn at five in the morning. Heading out of the house at six in order to arrive at Quarry Lake in Baltimore, Maryland before the sun rose, the thought of seeing a rare goose was better than a cup of coffee.
Being the first birder to arrive at the scene, I found the large flock of Canadian Geese on the west side of the lake. Having found open water among all of the ice, the geese were slowly beginning to awake. Each moment as the sun came closer to the horizon, more geese began to honk their “Good Mornings.”
The spot I had selected was further than if I had gone onto the other side of the small lake. I debated and debated..should I move..should I stay. When the sun began to shine more light on the lake I finally made the decision to move to the other side. As soon as I arrived to my new spot another birder shouted out to me – there they are !! Wait…they’re flying…do you see them?? The two wild geese that I was looking for literally flew in front of me and I couldn’t discern which ones they were.
Dejected, I got into the car and headed to another park south of the city. This time in search for Bitterns and Rails. Along the trail I came across another bird photographer that told me that he had 20 minutes of great visibility of the Bitterns before they tucked into the grass. Dang ! Skunked again. I stayed around a bit, hoping that they may come back out. Even played their song, but they weren’t listening.
I got back into the car and saw that the geese I was looking for had been relocated on a field north of Quarry Lake. So I drove back to the northern side of Baltimore. By the time I got there, they had already flown off to parts unknown. Third time skunked. Now I’m starting to get a little pissy on top of being tired from waking up too early. So I took off, heading home dejected. Along the way, I saw that the geese had returned not 15 minutes after I left. Grumble..grump…ok, tomorrow is a new day.
So today I took the leisure route. Ran a few errands and saw that the geese had been found again. Back in the car to head to Baltimore again, got to the field and VOILA !! There are the geese I’ve been searching for!
These are very special geese. These geese come from Greenland and overwinter primarily in England and other northwest European countries. Only very rarely do they end up on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. What are these geese you ask? PINK FOOTED GEESE !!
They were so close, but yet so far. Heavily cropped, and with heat haze this is the best that I could get. I vowed that this time I would wait for a while to see if they may get closer. In the meantime, birders and more birders kept showing up to see the geese. Locals driving by kept stopping and asking “What are you looking at?” I started to think I needed to make a sign that said “Pink Footed Geese Here.”
The geese showed me what they thought of the whole scene. But they are so cute..little cute pink feet, little cute beaks. Who could ever get mad at them?
After a while, they tucked behind a grassy knoll and fallen log. Probably to canoodle and have a nap. They did end up popping back out about 45 minutes later, but this time even further away.
It’s a big deal for Marylander’s to see these geese, and this is the furthest south they’ve been reported in Maryland.
This experience has really shown me the tenacity of birders. They will do whatever it takes to find a bird. People drove all over the area after they took off from Quarry Lake to find them, and they found them quickly. Birders are also community driven. They love to share their experience with others and gladly allowed others to look through their scopes to get a closer view of the birds. They also did a wonderful job with communicating to the birding community. Using social media, regular updates of the geese’s location was shared so that all could enjoy.
I can’t help but think about the personality traits that are embodied in a birder. Consider the patience and passion for nature that is held within their spirit. The loving and care that they have for others, as one cannot love nature without loving humanity. These are all traits that should be nurtured within ourselves.
Of course..the geese had to be in horse paddock just for me.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.