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Tales from Timer Trails

Tales from Timer Trails C. T.

I was after a goose. A Canada Goose. Good old Branta canadensis. Nothing particularly special about this goose except that it was sitting on a nest. Nothing out of the ordinary about that either.

I had found the goose on the nest Wednesday, when I had taken my father with me for a birding tour of Timber Trails Country Club. The day was sunny but cold, with a brisk wind that chilled us even more as we rode around in cart #42. "I should have worn my Bulls jacket," my dad had said, referring to his faithfully warm down filled parka. But he had put on his gray hooded sweat jacket, and was comfortable nonetheless.

The coyote caught my eye as I was driving across the 17th fairway, loping it's way back towards Flagg Creek. We had seen the coyote come out of the creek about an hour earlier, (my dad had never seen one so close before) heading east into the golf course and suburbia beyond. But when we saw it again, something inside told me to me to "give chase," to follow it. I consider these blind forays as my own personal mini Patagonia effects; sometimes they lead me to something new or unusual.

So away we went, after the coyote, in an underpowered golf cart. A golf cart so slow that Killdeer can walk faster than I can drive at top speed.

We stopped near the 13th tee and watched as the coyote, in a surprising burst of speed, chased, lunged and missed a squirrel. A Canada Goose began honking and was airborne before the coyote ever had a chance of having goose for lunch. Don Hoffman, Chief Green's keeper of TTCC had told me earlier in the week that he had seen up to four coyotes on the course all winter long. That they had done an admirable job of keeping the Canada Goose population next to nil.

It was then when I noticed the goose on the nest. We have a nesting pair of Canadas every year. Goslings then become food for the foxes, coyotes and anything else hungry enough to catch one.

The goose was on the nest near the 13th tee. Now a nesting goose is usually pretty unremarkable and a common sight in spring. That's not what caught my eye. What caught my eye was that the goose was sitting in (or on?) the nest, which was located about 20 feet off the ground in a mature oak tree. It was sitting in the old Red-tailed Hawk nest, a stick nest that the hawks have ignored for the last three years or so. (The Hawks moved "'uptown," to a luxury condo they built between two trees near the green on hole 2.)

Now I have seen geese perched in trees and on building roofs, but this was the first goose I had seen on (or in?) a Red-tailed Hawk nest.

So I returned yesterday, to see if what my dad and I had witnessed was a fluke. So I fired up cart #68, which was even slower than yesterday's golf cart. I pulled up to the 13th tee and there was the goose. 20 feet off the ground. On/in the nest.

Coincidence? It is too early to tell, but I'd like to think not. I would rather believe that this particular mating pair of Canada Goose has found a way to outwit the local coyote population.

At least for a while.

Craig A. Taylor

"Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Matt. 6 : 26

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