11 December 2015

Hundreds of Canada Goose in Early Winter At Valentine

Flights of loose flocks of Canada Goose going northward as seen from the north edge of Valentine indicate the number of these fowl present here this mid-December.

The morning of the 8th, numerous geese were going northward, coming from the southeast as prominent in the sky as seen from north Main Street, along the decline on the western side of the Valentine City Park. By counting the groups during ca. 8:40 to 8:55 a.m., there were an estimated 1300-1400 Canada Goose, based upon counts by fifths and tenths derived by particular attention.

There have also been a few Cackling Goose amidst the skeins, based upon their smaller fowl size and a once-in-a-while distinctive call. Their lesser size is obvious in comparison.

Just before noon, the flocks were seen returning from their forage grounds, as they flew over and beyond the city to their selected roost to the south.

One potentially notable roost site, as indicted by a county official, is near the Berry Bridge over the Niobrara River, a short distance southeast of Valentine. This locale has not been visited due to travel limitations.

About a dozen of the big geese did linger at the Valentine Mill Pond, midday on the 8th. Continual flow of Minnechaduza Creek contributes to a continuance of suitable pond spots where geese like to linger.

Recent weather conditions have been conducive for open water. Overnight lows have been below freezing, but not frigid. The high temperature for December 8th was 58o. On Wednesday, the 9th, it was 65o. The low temperature for this night was reported as 26o. On the 10th, the high was 55o and the overnight low was 25o, early on the 11th, with a high in the mid 40s expected Friday.

Miller Field — the airport on the south edge of Valentine — is an official National Weather Service reporting station.

Steady winds and the resultant wave action, though slight, has helped break up the edge of the ice-cover, so there is more open water, as noted by conditions at the Valentine Mill Pond. Recent winds have been in excess of 10 m.p.h. during these days, with gusts in the mid-20s occurring regularly. The water action helps to dissipate the edges of the ice and provide a more fluid setting.

A similar extent of fowl occurred in flight on Wednesday and Thursday. On the 10th, about fifty geese were noted at 3 p.m. going northward to their destination where there must be suitable foraging grounds. Their site of choice is way beyond any travel by me on a bicycle, with intent.

With an increase in open water at the Valentine Mill Pond, there were more Canada Goose present on the 10th, with more than twenty present at the noon hour.

The weekend forecast conveys a return to typical weather conditions for the month, with the daily high temperature on average about 37o. There may be 1-2 inches of snow on Saturday with highs in the mid 30s, according to the available forecast.