January 15th, 2020


LJI: wild goose chase

The Denver area has a lot of Canadian Geese.  I didn’t expect that when we first moved here, some live here year round in our mostly moderate weather and some make this the southern stop on their migration.  There are several parks in the greater Denver area with lovely lakes and expanses of grass which equals perfect goose habitat.

When we first moved to Colorado we stayed in the guest room of friends, while we were figuring out where in the metro area we wanted to be.  Those friends live close to City Park which has some gorgeous running trails, including a 5k loop marked out all within the park.  I was excited to go running in City Park and explore as soon as the April snowstorm melted.  But I quickly discovered that the geese were an issue.

First is the most basic concern – goose poop is slippery.  And it was everywhere.  Any run was a head down affair with an exciting bit of weave and dodge added in as I tried to make it around the lake without stepping into a gooey mess.

Next was the geese themselves.  These were city geese that had zero fear of humans; mostly they saw us as an occasional source of food.  This means that if a flock were currently moving across the sidewalk I was trying to run down, I had to dodge the geese too.  They wouldn’t really move out of the way or try to avoid me at all; there was zero respect for my predator status.

I adjusted to this new and interesting challenge in my runs.  I learned what times they typically waddled from their nesting area under the trees to the lake and back, and adjusted my schedule to avoid those times.  I saw a fellow runner clap repeatedly as he approached several geese hanging on the sidewalk and they did move seeming annoyed at the sound, so I added that to my repertoire.  But mostly I just expected them to be there, it wasn’t new anymore to run through a park full of geese.

Then came the goslings: so cute, so fluffy, and so clumsy on their brand new legs.   I slowed down to get a better glimpse of the adorableness, but the flock was keeping them close at hand and staying back at the trees to better keep track of their new members.

As the goslings started to grow the geese resumed their wanderings back and forth to the lake, now with the little ones along.   However, they learned the same disdain of humans that their parents had. Now that the babies were there clapping no longer seemed to startle any of the geese away.

So sometime in June I was running near the lake and dodging through a large group of geese spread out across the sidewalk.  Apparently the clear spot I stepped through put me between a mother and her baby.  Suddenly I was being chased by an angry goose – wings spread and honking – to inform me that I was messing with the wrong gosling.  It became an unexpected sprint workout as I got away from the goose mama as quickly as possible, a few other geese joined in the honking but luckily none of the others felt the need to actually chase me down.  It was over and done as quickly as it had started.

There’s no way to tell which gosling belongs with which goose, I had run through flocks with their juveniles before but that time I was unlucky.  I avoided that corner of the park for about a month until the goslings got their own flight feathers and became one of the crowd; I figured it was safer for myself as well as the geese.

***LJ Idol week 11 topic 1, because there's always a twist.  Read about other wild chases here.***