Sunday, July 28, 2013

Goosey Goosey Gander

A few weeks ago I got to get out of the office and into the field for a day of goose banding. I know my last three entries, including this one, all talk about my time in the field. But let me assure you, dear blog reader, that these are the ONLY times I’ve spent in the field this summer! I just haven’t shared my hours of data entry, management, scanning, filing, archiving, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting work, just perhaps not blog worthy!

Anyway, the end of June/beginning of July marks Goose banding season. That time of year, the Canada Geese are moulting most if not all of their feathers over a period of several weeks. This coincides with their goslings getting off the nest and they are big enough to paddle around. So the Geese are bound to the water they’re are when the moulting begins. This is typically not an issue for them for food and safety, and it occurs like clockwork. Biologists of course picked up on this, and decided this was a perfect time of year to round Geese up and put bands on their legs for future monitoring.

Chelsea at her post on the edge of the pond!
My friend and SUNY Cobleskill classmate Chelsea, and I met up with waterfowl biologists and other DEC staff at the Region 4 wildlife field office in Stamford, NY on a Monday morning. It was an overcast, foggy morning, but the Geese didn’t care, so neither did we!

We first caravaned to a summer camp property that had a large pond on it. They allowed us to come trap and band the Geese that day, which was nice since the property is not public access land. We had to move quickly so that the Geese couldn’t get away. Although they couldn’t fly, they could disappear into the woods IF they could get past us onto the shore. When we pulled up, they were just hanging out on the water. There were I think around 75 of them, and we qucikly all spread out and surrounded the pond. It wasn’t too large, maybe 6 acres, and we had quite the team assembled that morning. We all took our posts and some got into kayaks to do herding once it was time, and then a few more people moved quickly to set up the pen that we were going to attempt to herd them into.

It seemed like a long shot, but I had faith that the biologists knew what they were doing!

Chelsea and I were of no REAL help to the group, but we were given the task of herding Geese, and had our spots to stand in, and were told not to allow a single Goose past.

A view of the Geese across the pond with a DEC staff member trying to shoo them back into the middle of the pond.
Canada Geese
Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the next few moments. The kayakers moved in, slowly pushing the Geese in the direction we wanted. Like a well oiled machine, the Geese went RIGHT where they were supposed to, and there were DEC staff waiting to shut them in the holding pen.

DEC staff corraling Canada Geese ready for banding.

Next the biologists readied themselves to determine the sex of the Goose, to determine the age of the Goose, and then banded the Goose.

DEC Biologist Mike Clarke examines the vent of a Goose to determine the sex.

Here’s my friend Chelsea handing over a Goose to be inspected. The way she’d handling the Goose may LOOK uncomfortable, but really it was a safer way (for us and them) to handle them. Their large wings could easily get bent or damaged if they weren’t secured. This kept us from getting beaten around by their wings, and kept them from getting hurt.

Check out these honkers! The Goose in the center of the picture has an interesting white patch of feathers. That is a full grown Goose too. You can see the neck of the Goose just to the upper left- that’s a juvenile. But this one in the center is an adult, just with a funky hair-do!

It was quite a gregarious experience. Lots of noise, and lots of commotion! Unfortunately I did not get my photograph with a Goose. It all happened so fast, that I wasn’t able to pass off my camera. I did get the opportunity to sex/age/band a Goose though. And I got initiated into the club: I was bitten and pooped on. Another great day out in the field, which certainly makes up for all the days at my desk!

1 comment:

  1. Bites and poos, what a way to spend a day!!Looks like it was truly a great experience, and so much more fun than behind the office windows. Lovely to hear how things are done with the geese, I had no idea, your blog tells us so much we might never ever know. Greetings from Jean. p.s. even day to day filing and data stuff is fine with me!!!


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