It all started with a simple, pure white feather. The evening prior to Halloween, Robert came into my office to inform me that he had heard geese on the pond.
“What kind of geese?” I asked. But, I knew the answer. He didn’t know. He had only heard them.
This afternoon (Halloween), I took the golf cart out to the pond. The Pied-billed Grebe was still there. I first saw it yesterday. It was alone. I had to get assistance to identify the new species for my list of backyard birds. Thanks Urs.
Along with the Grebe, I saw something else floating atop the thickened shallows, at the south end of the pond. A white feather. Surely, it was from the geese the evening prior – or that was my best guess. But, what species did it belong to? I wondered if it would be worth sloughing through the mud to retrieve the feather so that I could send it off for DNA analysis. Yes, that was just a fleeting thought – but I must admit, I had it. I am turning into a birding fanatic.
I stayed out hoping to find and film birds until Robert returned from Rural King. He went to pick up a couple of T-posts he was going to use to erect a Wood Duck house. We had planned to complete the project for weeks, but it’s been raining, we’ve been busy and, yeah, there are a half dozen other reason we didn’t get to putting up a duck box in October, not to mention they aren’t going to need it for a few months.
With the tools and equipment in tow, Robert arrived a half hour before sunset, and met me out by the pond. I thought to suggest we defer until tomorrow, but I had to take advantage of the fact that he was still game to work on the project. I was cold and less enthused, but I couldn’t let that deter him.
I am actually hoping that the duck box becomes a nesting spot for a Kestrel or an Owl. It’s not that I have anything against ducks, but we have at least one, very large snapping turtle in the pond. Years ago, when we had domestic ducks and geese on the pond, all the duck hens laid their eggs in one communal nest. I don’t know which duck decided she would be the setter, but the eggs hatched very close together on the same day. There were twenty-two cute little ducklings swimming behind the adults…wait, there were twenty cute little ducklings…. next day, there were eighteen ducklings and then two were snatched each day until there were none. We are fairly certain it was the work of the snapping turtles. So, it’s not that I don’t want Wood Ducks to occupy the new nest box, but I just don’t want their little ones to be food for the nasty reptile just days after they hatch. Still, I digress from the Halloween evening hoopla.
I shot the photo above (pond in the foreground) as I was informing Robert that he should hold off on finishing the project until tomorrow, since the light was dwindling and the temperature was dropping. So, he packed up the post hole digger and other tools in the back of the van.
Back in the warmth of my office, I was processing the photos that I took from earlier in the day. Suddenly, in the distance, heard geese honking. The pond is about 700 feet from my office, as the crow (or goose) flies. But, I wasn’t all that game to go out into the darkness. Still, I really wanted to know what type of geese they might be, and I know that Robert, as a former Marine, has lots of “equipment” AKA hobby stuff like night vision goggles. But, I wondered if he had anything that might be able to take photos at night. I figured we would go out to pond together in the comfort of the van, sleuth around, and maybe get some images. You know, sort of make a Halloween night date of it.
There aren’t that many species of geese that might be landing in our pond for the evening, so even without the option of photography, my quest for identifying the species could be achieved. But, Robert merely answered affirmatively – he’d take care of it. That’s pretty much his M.O. and it often leaves me feeling left out, but I was still warming up from sitting in the golf cart outside in a brisk wind for a couple of hours, so I let him do his thing.
What follows is the video he pulled off his night vision scope. What he experienced seems frightening. It seems beyond horrifying. To watch it made me feel grateful that he survived the experience. Truly, I did not expect to see or hear (turn up the volume, it’s critical) everything that transpired during his dark, Halloween night excursion.
This video is hauntingly ala Blair Witch Project. I decided to refrain from editing, in order to offer up the complete experience. Let it be known that I take no responsibility for your reaction to the contents of this video.