Last week when I took a walk at the lake, I found a picnic table near the park services office where I could sit and enjoy the morning. Located near the shore, it provided me a good view of the surplus of waterfowl and other wildlife. The moment I sat down, however, I was noticed by a gaggle of both Domestic swan geese (Anser cygnoides) and domestic greylag geese (Anser anser). I assume they have grown accustomed to receiving food from people because they came right out of the water and headed in my direction.
[also seen in the background of that picture are American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), American coots (Fulica americana), a double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), and ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis)]
I watched in amazement as they walked right up to and around the picnic table, foraging the whole way. Their stroll was casual and unconcerned. They did keep an eye on me, however, with regular and careful evaluations of my movements and position. Because only a few of them intently watched me, I assume they were the leaders of the pack. Or at least the most distrustful.
They foraged about me as they came ever nearer. Eventually, they came right up to the table while picking through the winter grass.
Once they realized I had no food to offer, they promptly headed back to the water. I almost felt as though they were disappointed that I sat there with no treats for them to consume.
As they entered the water amongst the coots with pelicans and gulls looking on, somehow I felt bad for not having something to offer. My empty pockets and hands seemed almost like a betrayal of their need. But I felt confident they wouldn’t starve despite my apparent lack of social graces.
I have three videos from the experience and am including them below
This first video is when they came around the table and approached me. You can see they foraged the entire way.
This next one shows them when they came right up to the table where I was sitting. In fact, the one you see nearest the camera was less than an arm’s length away from me. I suspected it might peck at the camera while it was filming just to see if it was edible. By the way, that’s a park services truck driving by at the beginning.
Finally, once they realized I had nothing to offer, I captured them as they walked around me and headed back to the water. I’m sure they were thinking I had been a total waste of their time and energy.