Celebrating the Dawn

I was at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge to greet the dawn this Saturday morning. There was no rain, but the air was cold and the dampness from the rains we’d been having seemed to penetrate my warmest jacket and gloves. Trees held plenty of water from the rain and one or two icy drips managed to run down my neck until I wrapped my scarf tighter.

There are not many leaves left on the trees, but there is still a colorful carpet of leaves in some areas, and they serve to soften the sound of the gravel path.

I startled a small flock of juncos and sparrows rooting around on the gravel path. They flew into a bush, waited for me to pass, then immediately went back to sorting gravel.

According to the weather service, dawn would be at 7:18. At exactly 7:20, with the sun burning softly through the fog, a roar rose from the refuge ponds. It was the sound of many geese and water birds rising together in response to the dawn. Perhaps there were thousands of them. I can only say there were so many that they didn’t sound like geese. For just few moments, sounded instead like the roar of the crowd in a huge football stadium during Superbowl. I’ve seen huge flocks of geese before, but I’ve never heard anything like the roar they made as they first roused themselves.

The geese seemed to rise in waves, some appearing to fly away from the refuge but many staying overhead, low in the sky, circling, stretching their wings, milling around and around, not minding the fog. There were so many geese overhead I worried about what might drop on my head. In the end, luck was with me.  A noticed a heron who seemed to resent the noisy early morning ritual as he fled for more peaceful territory. After thirty minutes most of the geese had settled back down and quieted. The ceremony of celebrating dawn was over.

The spectacular wakening was the gift I had come for, so was the small herd of deer I nearly stumbled into, and the juncos and the sparrows. I seldom anticipate what I will see when I walk in the refuge. Instead, I wait for the gift I will be given. I am never disappointed.

8 thoughts on “Celebrating the Dawn

  1. Such a nice exciting walk in the early morning! One morning, I was driving to work on I-205 at the Clackamas river, hundreds of Geese above, a semitruck driver blasts his air horn. It rains these large piles of stuff, splatity splat splat. Visibility zero at 60MPH. No car made then or today has enough windshield washer fluid to get a clear view. Turn around and head for the car wash.

  2. I’ve been hit by geese going down 205! Awful! I used up lots of paper towels from the eye clinic to clean my windshield!! Glad you escaped Susan!! 😊

  3. This is beautiful, Susan. I felt like I was with you every step of the way. I had no idea that Geese getup to celebrate the dawn in the morning. What a lovely experience.

  4. Hi Susan, I haven’t been to the Refuge lately, but I live near the Tualatin River and flocks of geese often fly over my neighborhood. We have the Cackling Geese, not Canada Geese. They are smaller birds but look very similar, and their calls are higher pitched. You can compare and listen to their calls on this site.
    https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cackling_Goose/id
    Sounds like a great outing, I’ve got to visit the Refuge again soon!

    1. Thank you Linda. I’m a bird lover but have never known much about geese. I appreciate the information you sent! I’ll go back with my binoculars when it’s not the start of the day and I can hear their individual calls! Thank you for reading.

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