What a Nuisance!

This is the Word of the Day prompt, whose host defines this term thus:
 GABBLE-RATCHET. As well as being an old English dialect word for a noisy child, a gabble-ratchet is any nocturnal bird (particularly geese) that makes a lot of noise at night, once considered to be an ill omen.

I was attracted to this prompt today due to this unusual word!! The definition I found for gabble-ratchet is a bit different, from New Miriam-Webster Dictionary online:

Definition of gabriel ratchet
Miriam-Webster says the term derives from gabriel-ratchet, whose definition is:

dialectalthe cries of migrating wild geese flying by night which are often popularly explained as the baying of a supernatural pack of hounds and to which various superstitious significances (as forebodings of evil) are attributed.

I like the first definition better, but I am very familiar with the sound – a lot of Canada geese hang around our community’s campus when the weather is warm enough, and when they fly, they gabble-ratchet! So I am incorporating this unique word, with two other prompts from Fandango’s FOWC and The Daily Spur into my poem about

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CANADA GEESE

Canada geese everywhere
In pond and grass, and in the air
They leave their poop all over the place
When I walk, I look down, just in case
At the path where they have wandered
Poop here, poop there and over yonder
A gun is fired to scare them away
But they don’t care, they come back anyway
The swans in the ponds only chase after them
When their cygnets are young, but mostly ignore ’em
In the fall, those darned geese fly overhead
In V formation, full speed ahead
Their gabble-ratchet is music to my ears
They’re finally gone…until next year!
BUT
I wish I could say they really go away
But mild winters invite them to stay!
Call grounds crew to complain or snitch
But Canada geese have found their niche
I guess living with geese is just the price
We have to pay for a campus so nice!

Bird Weekly: Feathered Friends

The Bird Weekly photo challenge this week invites us to share the feathered friends that visit or live in our home space. We have a lot of birds on the campus of our senior community, but I am only including those who actually come into our yard – ducks, geese, and robins!

Although this particular Canada goose was not in our yard at the time I took this photo (I just really like this photo), we do often get visits from flocks of these guys who think they own the place!

Here are three photos I took in sequence of several ducks who hang out together – in the pond, taking a nap on shore, or taking walks in people’s yards! Over the summer, these ducks proliferated, and now that their young have grown, large groups of ducks are in abundance!

Bird Weekly: Birds in Black & White

Lisa Coleman has a new photo challenge called Bird Weekly. Each week is a different topic: this week it is Black & White or Sepia, and it is my first time participating.

Our main source of entertainment in the last several months at our senior community has been our resident birds. Two pairs of swans are brought to campus every March and are taken back in October. They are supposed to scare away the Canada geese – in this they have been a total failure!! We also have ducks, geese and a heron who drops in every day.

A lucky shot – the heron, one of the swans and a lot of ducks in the same photo!
This is one of several duck families here. I took this in early July and now these little ones are nearly grown!
I never knew until this year, when having plenty of opportunities to observe these birds, that they groom themselves so much!
I like this shot of the heron silhouetted in the setting sunlight reflected on the lake.
We had no cygnets this year – “Duchess” got up off her nest in a violent storm and her five eggs were blown into the lake! It was quite a tragedy here!
This cellphone shot isn’t too clear, but I was playing around with different effects on SnapSeed, and came up with this.

LAPC: Spring Sprang

“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.” -Marty Rubin

The beauty of spring is watching the first plants pushing up above ground, and seeing the early flowers bloom.

Budding hyacinth in April

Daffodils emerge
Gentle breezes caress me
The sound of birdsong.

And tulips!

What a strange thing! to be alive, beneath cherry blossoms. – Kobayashi Issa

After the pandemic arrived and we were on lockdown, one of our joys was watching the swans, and the expectation of cygnets. I wrote this haiku dedicated to the swans:

Cob* fluffs up his wings
To threaten the geese on shore
And protect his mate.

Swimming by the shore
Swans gliding, white against blue
Wag their tail feathers.

Male swan makes a nest
Lined with some sticks, grass and leaves
Mate will lay eggs soon.

*”Cob” is a male swan.

And then she began to lay her eggs…a total of five by mid-April.

A pair of Canada geese swim with their goslings in May. (The swans lost their eggs in a violent spring storm!)

Meanwhile, the warm weather brings people out walking, with their dogs, and stopping to chat.

The cute doggie on the left is my favorite dog here – his name is Bodhi!

And when were walking, we listened to the sounds of nature…including the pecking of a woodpecker.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #105: Spring

WWE: Birds on the Lake

I am forever trying to get good shots of our water bird population. Lately, I’ve gotten several good photos on “West Lake” here at our senior community, so I’m showing them off here on Jez’s Water Water Everywhere #35 challenge.

I unfortunately had only my cellphone camera to use for this shot – the heron has never let me get this close, and his silhouette against the reflected glow of the setting sun on the lake was a perfect setting.
Ducks in a circle
Sidney, West Lake’s male swan
One of our two duck families
Goslings & parents keeping cool on the wet pavement
“Our” heron (same one as in the first photo – he/she comes here every day) – fortunately, this time I had my regular camera and zoom lens!

2020 Sunday Stills Home Photo Challenge

After living in an increasingly crowded suburb for 30 years, last year Dale and I moved to Arlington Heights, where we live in a senior community with a large campus – lots of pretty flowers, landscaping, and a community garden area. We have two “lakes” (that’s what they’re called here but to me they are more like ponds) with a pair of swans on each lake. I take a walk around campus every day and there’s always something or someone to see. There’s plenty of other wildlife here too.

The pair of swans on West Lake (who lost their eggs in a storm just before they were about to hatch!)
There is a large group of mallard drakes on West Lake too – we call them the Bachelor Club! Every afternoon they take a siesta in the shade of a tree.
Although Canada geese can be a pain (they poop everywhere!), we have two permanent resident pairs (geese, like swans, mate for life) and this pair has three young’uns. The goslings are getting big now, but still haven’t lost their downy coats!
Every day in late afternoon, a heron comes, because I guess our ponds have fish! Usually he flies away before I can get anywhere near him, but yesterday, I was able to get pretty close. And now that I compare my photos, this is probably a different bird – he is quite a bit larger than the usual one!

2020 Home Photo Challenge

Sunday Stills: Happiest at Home

WWE #27: West Lake Tales

A lot of my photos lately (only with my cell phone, unfortunately – I don’t generally take my big camera on walks with me) have been taken at “West Lake” – which is more of a pond, but here at our senior community it is called a lake. In these pandemic times, the most active scene around here is at West Lake (and sometimes East Lake, which is even smaller), with a variety of water birds engaged in their daily activities, oblivious to pandemics, lockdowns, and social distancing.

If you watch long enough, or happen to be there at the right time, life dramas may unfold in front of your eyes.

About 10 days ago, staff members from our community “escorted” a duck family from a nearby school (where apparently the duck goes to nest every year, only this year, no one is there to provide food and water for her & her chicks) to our campus.  I wasn’t there to witness this, so I don’t know how many ducklings there were at the time, but by the time I saw them, there were merely two wee ducklings – and they were REALLY small! I took this photo of the little family and was surprised to see daddy duck still hanging around, which isn’t common for ducks. The tragedy is that, while I haven’t seen them lately, I’ve been told there is only ONE duckling now!
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There is actually what I call a “bachelor club” of drake mallards, about 7 or 8 of them, since the females are off nesting somewhere.  So perhaps we can look forward to seeing more duck families soon.

We also had two families of Canada geese – here is one of them. Note Sidney (“Duke” as he’s officially named), West Lake’s male swan, lurking nearby looking threatening.
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And here comes the drama – Sidney’s mate, Celina (“Duchess”) is currently sitting on her five eggs, which should hatch within a week from now, and Sidney is determined to claim the entire lake as their own.  Here he is chasing one of the geese out of the pond.
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Unfortunately, the above family met a tragic end – Sidney killed every one of their goslings! Another walker from our community told us she had seen him kill one of the babies. And we saw one of the bodies floating in the water…

Although Canada geese are a nuisance, I was glad to see that there is another family on campus, which wisely hangs around East Lake, where the swans (who are not nesting parents-to-be) leave them alone.

We often see one or another of two visitors to the lake – a heron and an egret.
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Dale and I had a discussion about whether the above was an egret or a heron. I thought it was too large to be an egret, but Dale said its color and black legs indicate it is an egret. It turns out we were both right – egrets are a type of heron, and this is evidently a member of the “Great White Egret” species.
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This is unmistakably a great blue heron, and it often visits our lakeshore.  We try to be very quiet to get close, but both the heron and the egret always fly away to the other side of the lake before we get very near.
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I suppose I will have to tough it out and lug my camera around with me, since the cygnets should be arriving very soon!

Photos by Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere challenge