17 May 2012

138/366 gosling search and rescue

My morning started off peacefully (after taking the kids to school, that is) here, at Panorama Point Park. I tried working with my polarizing filter to get a shot in full sun of the fertile Hood River valley.

I'm still working with the polarizer. I need to devote a sunny day to playing with the rotation of the filter and the position of the camera in relation to the sun. 

I left Panorama Point and headed to the marina for my usual walk, and kept the camera with me in case I found the goslings again. It took me a while, but I eventually found them as I crossed a foot bridge, where they were swimming and snacking along the bank of Hood River.
As I was taking pictures of the cute little geese, two more families came along—one with more little yellow goslings and one with older grey goslings. I was pretty satisfied with my encounter, so I turned off the camera and focused on the exercise portion of my walk.
But on my way back to the car, as I crossed back over the bridge, I noticed one little gosling that got left behind. I watched her for a while, and realized she was really alone. She would try to swim away, but one leg wasn't working correctly. I figured she was hurt, and felt sad that she had been abandoned and I couldn't help her.
Another woman came along with her two kids, and I pointed out the gosling to them. They watched for a little while, and the woman and I discussed the gosling's leg. The woman figured out that the bird had fishing line wrapped around her leg. I can't remember if I said anything to her after that, because I headed down the bank as fast as I could to free the gosling.
The poor thing was terrified to see a giant human approaching. I didn't have scissors or a knife, but I was confident I could saw the line with my keys. I held the line in a loop about six inches from the bird and ripped my key through it as hard and fast as I could. It was strong line, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to break it. I finally got it, and that scared little bird swam away fast. (The woman gave a little cheer. That made me smile.) I tried to follow her for a bit, to make sure she found her mama, but there were too many trees in the way and I lost sight of her. I worried (still do) that the length of line still attached to her leg would cause problems, or that the line tangled around her leg would cut off circulation.

The line!

I raced back to the bank to gather up the rest of the line to prevent another creature from getting stuck. There was quite a bit of it. I also gathered a large beer can, a beer bottle, and a plastic container. Littering sucks.
Seriously, people. Just like I tell my kids every day—clean up after yourselves! (Obviously not YOU. You know better. I'm talking to the selfish idiots that don't understand that leaving your trash on the ground is bad.)

Sweetpea comments on the litter we see around town every day on our walks to school. “When I get older, I'm going to put signs up all over that say, 'Don't Litter'.” I tell her that I would help her make them today if I thought the signs would help. No, the people that litter do so even though they know it's wrong. She doesn't understand why anyone would do that. I wish I had a better explanation for her than laziness, ignorance, and apathy.

I'll get down off my soapbox now. Just please remind the fisherpeople in your lives to clean up their line. And teach your kids about the dangers of littering. Goosey Lucy and I thank you.

I'm realizing now that I probably could have located a vet or wildlife specialist to free the bird properly. I should have done that. I'm off to research such a person now and save the phone number to my cell phone. Just in case.