The ice started to recede on Two Jack Lake in late April this year. Waterfowl was drawn to the open water as they migrated back to Banff National Park. Some birds were resting briefly before continuing further north. For a small gaggle of Canada geese, they seemed to be planning for a longer stay.
At one point, one goose decided to chase another. The target flew off and was joined by his mate and they landed at another opening. Perhaps this was a territorial “discussion”. For me, it yielded a series of images with the aggressor splashing, flying and skimming across the water. The bird banked around the small cove towards me so I was in a great position to photograph him.
The remaining couple settled down quickly and returned to paddling on the water. A little while later one laid don near a stand of trees while the other went to the edge of the ice that still covered most of the lake.
The tall grass near the bird blind on Frank Lake is nesting ground for Canada geese, ibis, yellow-headed blackbirds, herons and more. At dusk the cacophony rising up from these residents can be surprisingly loud. There are birds chasing one another, others returning with material for their nest, food for their chicks as well as occasional territorial spats. It’s an incredible spot to set up near the trails and watch life on a marsh. On a visit there in early May the weather was warm and the sunlight before dusk was incredible.
Throughout the evening, the Canada geese were active with a couple being particularly feisty. That presented some new image opportunities that I had not yet photographed which is always exciting for me.
When the sun set, the activity level along the shoreline rose noticeably. All manner of birds flew overhead and low along the water. Some of the geese moved their skirmishing to the small pond directly in front of me. I didn’t move around and they seemed oblivious, or at least undistracted, by me – which was perfect. I stayed until it was dark and loved every minute.
On a snowy day in early April these two geese charged each other repeatedly as I watched them on the edge of the ice at Wild Rose Lake. Here the one Canada goose looks bemused by this emphatic display.
A Canada goose poses for a portrait at the Vermilion Lakes early on a misty morning in the Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
I went to Wild Rose Lake a few days ago to see what animals might be active early in the day before dawn. I’m waiting for the loons to return to the lake so I visit regularly. On this morning, a beaver and a muskrat were paddling along different parts of the shoreline and there were small bands of ducks nearer to the middle. Thin bands of fog blew over the surface and I stopped to watch that dance for a while. It was a tranquil scene supported by gentle calls from the birds including three Canada geese (Branta canadensis) that floated by.
And then, all hell broke out. Apparently the geese were not three friends but one couple and a third wheel. The boyfriend apparently had enough and changed his tone from soft quacking to loud, angry honking. That happened right when he lunged at the other male and the two were in the equivalent of a back alley brawl – maybe a better description would be a pond pounding or a mid-lake mashup. The beaks were the main duelling weapon but wings and bodies were used to attack and defend as well. The main fight lasted less than a minute and then the chase began.
The male in the relationship trounced the other one and sent him scooting away. The chastened goose started beaking off from a short distance away and that seemed to rile the champion up. He then swam/flew to the instigator and nipped at him until he dove under the water. Popping up several meters away, the cycle then repeated itself six or seven more times. It was crazy to watch!
In the end, the lone goose ended up flying across the lake and the lovebirds continued their morning swim.
A Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) surveys the lake from a one-legged position on the water of Wild Rose in Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada. Before taking up this spot, I watched it walk out on the patch of dirt towards the water – it looked like it was checking out its own reflection when it got to the lake’s slightly abstract mirror.
This Canada Goose led a small flock off the lake at the Wild Rose Estates, west of Bragg Creek, and disappeared into the mist rising off of the water.
I heard a lady walking past me on the Vermilion Lakes road say to her friend that this was the first Canada goose (Branta canadensis) on the lakes this year. It certainly was the first one I’ve seen paddling around the open water near one of the warm springs that run out of the hillsides and hold back the ice through the winter.
The light was diffused by the clouds and the water was calm with no wind to disturb it. This bird swam around in large circles, lapping us several times as my wife and I photographed it and the kids watched it. It honked a few times but was not angry as when something gets too close to a nest. Seemed more like a call for a fellow goose to stop by. It could have been an inquiry to a potential mate but I did not see any other geese in the area.
As it was, we stayed with the bird for about half an hour. I worked with the reflections, the ripples, the edge of the ice and really enjoyed the personality I saw in the goose as it watched us. I may have been projecting this personality but it seemed very curious and even a little bemused as we looked one another over.
Another evening down at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary tonight. The wedges of geese and colonies of gulls flying in at dusk are really fun to watch. There are easily hundreds of birds returning to the Bow river for the night. Sunset was just after 6 and by 7 the birds had settled on the rocks in the channel.
After all of the chaos of the returning birds, I liked this isolated Canada goose that was standing motionless. I guess it was sleeping as it did not move for this 13 second exposure. The light reflected from the street lamps above the Deerfoot lit the water like fire. With the small silhouette of the goose anchoring the frame, I like this composition.