Thursday, February 9, 2012

After the geese.

Here is a schoolyard in Richmond BC, a few weeks after large flocks of Lesser Snow geese stopped foraging there.  The geese were there day after day during the Christmas break, and left (for good?) in mid-January when a week-long cold snap froze the turf and made it difficult for them to access the the rhizomes they prize.

Without having seen the flocks, it would be difficult to guess what had happened to the grass.  The wettest areas seemed to have received the highest levels of grazing damage, which in total probably amounts to several acres of lawn.

 The white dots in the distance are gulls.

I don't know how many geese are still around in the Lower Mainland, whether elsewhere in Richmond or on Westham Island in Delta--or marshes in between.  A lot have made the traditional next leg of the trip down to the Skagit Valley in Washington State.

I'm trying to gather data on snow goose feeding and schoolyard damage in Richmond to help a budding ornithologist with a science project.  If you are a Richmondite and have knowledge of fields that have been affected this winter, I would appreciate hearing about it.  The link to my email is on the top right of this page.  Thanks.

P.S.  Schoolyards I currently know that have been damaged are Garden City (above), Blundell, and Walter Lee.  I expect that several others, particularly on the west side of the island, have also been goosed.


Lorin said...

Since these lawns aren't particularly natural, I presume they are unnaturally vulnerable to disturbances. But I wonder if there are any benefits, as well as damage, from the geese -- for example from the fertilizer they leave behind?

Hugh said...

Lorin, good points. By summer, these fields look pretty lush (this isn't the first year the geese have fed here). One aspect of not being particularly natural is the homogeneity of the habitat, if we can call it that. They pick a spot, start eating, and it's like an engless tray of vegetarian lasagna.

Kim said...

Great post. Here, we see Canada geese all over park lawns. At work there are always cottontails "working" on the lawns. One evening I counted 16 of them outside the museum...but I was told that's nowhere near what the rangers have seen in the past!