22 November 2011

Numerous Cackling Goose Gather at Fontenelle Park

With typical waterfowl of the late-autumn season migrating in numerous flocks along the valley of the Missouri River (especially after the many flocks noted going southward on Sunday morning, November 20th), the place with largest occurrence of the Cackling Goose is an intercity park of Omaha.

On November 21, there were at least 47 noted among a congregation of the Canada Goose, comprising about 665 individuals.

Gathering of geese on the park lagoon. November 23, 2011.

Bird movement has brought out birders, yet there are only a couple of reports of the small goose at any other localities within the Missouri River valley, based upon several online reports, from Carter Lake to Big Lake and Lake Manawa in Iowa.

There were five Cackling Goose noted at Lake Bennington on 19 November, by a local birder.

Geese at Fontenelle Park appreciate the edible short green grass of the golf course, with a nearby lagoon with unfrozen water. A fence around the area limits disturbance by roaming canines not on a leash.

On the day the place was visited, the only disturbance was a duffer, hitting golf balls along, using a single club on a mid-day when the temperature was in the upper 30s, under cloudy skies. He was indifferent to forcing the geese to go elsewhere.

The geese did not leave but as this humanistic disturbance walked indifferently among the grazing birds, they flew around but remained at the locality.

Having the Cackling Goose noted in numbers at this site is a surprise, but expected. A few were present at the end of December 2010.

There are other seemingly preferable places, but the birds know what they prefer.

The Cackling Goose is readily noted by its smaller size and diminutive bill, in comparison to the larger Canada Goose.

With all the geese, the turf of Fontenelle Park is a morass of goose ordure. Treading lightly will not make any difference as the gooey green stuff will stick to most every thing it touches. Before leaving the place, a handy stick was used to remove most of the matter from the tires on my bicycle.

The lagoon is not entirely frozen, and other waterfowl noted included a nice group of Wood Ducks, and a lesser number of Mallards. Few other species were present, as the place is a relative "desert" of habitat, except for birds of arboreal features of the parkland.

The Canada Goose and Cackling Goose are, however, prominent species which occur to present a unique juxtaposition of wild birds in an urban setting.

The Canada Goose is known as an abundant winter visitor, based on sighting records dating back to January 2003.

Fontenelle Park is not an important birding area. Fewer than 40 species have been recorded, based upon a very small number of surveys, as this place is not high on any list of bird watching destinations.

This urban landscape is the place to be this time of the year, to see lots of languid geese!