My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Where do I begin? Lonesome George, friends, and enemies

Things may not have gone well for me as far as buying a condo, but I have hundreds of photos that I would like to post, however, I’m having a hard time figuring out where to even start with the photos, so let me tell you the story behind many of them.
In July, right after the Canada Geese had regrown their flight feathers and could fly again, a lone goose took up residence around one of the ponds near the last place I lived, so it seemed. It was there by itself for days, and it’s rather unusual to see a goose by itself. It was odd to see a lone goose day after day, almost always standing in the same place. I thought that it was a young male goose that had staked out that pond, hoping an unattached female would find the pond, and him, to be just what she was looking for, so I named the goose Lonesome George, after the old-time comedian, “Lonesome” George Gobel. (Most of you are way too young to remember Lonesome George Gobel.)

Every day, I would walk up near the pond, and there would be George hanging out on a “point” on the shore of the pond, all by himself. After a week or so, I saw that there was nearly always a female mallard hanging out with George, and the two of them seemed to become inseparable.

I took a few photos of George, but since I have a ton of goose photos, most days I just looked to see if he was still there, and he was. Then, looking at one of the photos I did take of him, I noticed that his wing had been injured, and that’s why he was still at the pond by himself, except for Molly, the female mallard who was always at George’s side.

That was the beginning of a learning experience, actually, many learning experiences. First of all, George was well aware of his injury, by that, I mean he went to great lengths to keep his injury hidden by always standing in spots where no one or no predator would be able to see that he was injured. His favored spot on shore was right next to a bush where he could see all around, but hid his injured wing from view. When George did leave his spot, he would go into the taller grass to feed, where his injuries were also hidden from possible predators.

DSC_0213

Lonesome George, Molly, and a few unnamed mallards

DSC_0003

Lonesome George trying to fix his broken wing

Those shots were taken later in the summer, after George started hanging out in more open areas.

I started hanging out near the pond on weekends, talking to people who lived in the housing development where the pond is located, trying to get some help for George, but to no avail. I called a few places myself, and was told “It’s just a goose” or “We have to let nature take its course”. A few of the people I talked to had also tried to get help for George, they were all told the same thing that I had been told. But, George was being looked after by Molly, the female mallard. She seldom left his side, and you’ll see her in most of the photos of George that I took. Day after day I walked up to the pond, and day after day, there would be George and Molly side by side. George made some other friends as well.

Lonesome George, Molly, and Craig the cormorant

Lonesome George, Molly, and Craig the cormorant

It was one thing to see George and Molly together everyday, but then Craig the cormorant showed up, and he took up residence at the pond as well. He didn’t stay at George’s side as Molly did, he would often perch on a piece of half sunken debris floating in the pond, but he did spend a lot of time with George, and was looking out for him as well, as you will see later.

In a complete reversal of what I would normally do, rather than trying to get closer to George and his friends, I stayed farther away, not wanting to stress George anymore than necessary. But, I did begin to spend more time at the pond watching, and learning. I spent most of my weekend days sitting under a small tree on the opposite side of the pond from where George spent most of his time. I could easily bore every one to death with all the photos I took of George, Molly, and Craig hanging out together, but I won’t. I shot them as a record, as a way keeping track of who was there at the pond, and who wasn’t. Because I sat on the opposite side of the pond, the photos aren’t as good as I would like them to be, but I think that you’ll find them interesting even though shot at a distance. I sure learned a lot sitting under that tree, about the interactions between the various species that came calling.

Craig would fly off for a while every now and then, but he spent most of his time at that one pond, either standing on shore near George, or perched on the debris floating in the pond. Molly was nearly always within just a few feet of George, most of the time within inches, except when he went off in the tall grass to feed. Then she would either feed in the water, or sit there at George’s spot, waiting for him to return.

So it seemed that things were as normal one Sunday in the middle of August when I arrived at the pond to watch and learn, but I had no idea just how much I would learn. George and Molly were hanging out in George’s little spot on shore.

Lonesome George and Molly

Lonesome George and Molly

Craig must have just finished fishing for his lunch, as he was perched on his favorite spot drying his wings.

Double crested cormorant drying its wings

Double crested cormorant drying its wings

There was also a great blue heron off to one end of the pond.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

When a second heron came swooping in.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

And landed across the pond from the first heron, with Craig between them.

Great blue heron landing

Great blue heron landing

All that happened before I had even made it to my spot under the tree. I made it to the tree, and had just sat down, when heron #2 started across the pond towards heron #1, croaking as he came.

Great blue heron flying past a double crested cormorant

Great blue heron flying past a double crested cormorant

Heron #2 drove heron #1 off…

Great blue heron in flight and fight

Great blue heron in flight and fight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Heron #1 took off across the pond…

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron landing

Great Blue heron landing

With heron #2 following heron #1..

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue heron in flight

Great Blue herons in flight

Great blue herons in flight

Unfortunately, like an idiot, with two great blue herons flying right under my nose more or less, I filled the memory buffer of my camera, and missed some of the best shots of the two herons together. That’s one of the many problems in nature photography, you never know what’s going to happen, and when things do start happening, they happen quickly, and you don’t have a lot of time to think, let alone get to a better location to shoot from.

Heron #2 landed on the edge of the pond as heron #1 headed off for one of the other ponds.

Great blue herons in flight

Great blue herons in flight

The second heron walked up on shore, and up into the brush that you can see surrounding the pond, which I thought was a little strange at the time. I won’t bore you with the photos I took of the heron and Craig the cormorant jawing at one another across the pond, but they were, with George and Molly in the middle.

Then, things got really strange. The heron made a strike into the grass just as if it were going for a fish in the water, but of course, there wasn’t a fish to be caught, instead, there was a rodent of some type.

Great blue heron carrying a freshly caught rodent

Great blue heron carrying a freshly caught rodent

I felt sorry for the poor little rodent, the heron carried it to the water, then held it under water until it drowned.

Great blue heron carrying a rodent

Great blue heron carrying a rodent

Great blue heron drowning a rodent

Great blue heron drowning a rodent

After the rodent was dead, the heron swallowed it whole, just like it would have with a fish. Then, things got stranger yet.

The heron worked its way down the shore towards where George was standing near the bank, and I could sense that George was feeling uneasy as the heron got closer. Maybe I am reading too much into what transpired from then on, but I think that the photos show what I felt, you be the judge.

Craig the cormorant left his perch and took up a position in the pond near where George and the heron were.

 

Lonesome George, Craig the cormorant, and the evil heron

Lonesome George, Craig the cormorant, and the evil heron

Craig the cormorant and the evil heron were eyeballing one another, and doing some trash talking back and forth as well. Craig began diving for, and surfacing with fish, but rather than eating them, he flipped them up into the air and let them fall back into the water as if to tell the heron, “I’m a much better fisherman than you are!”.

Double crested cormorant letting a fish go

Double crested cormorant letting a fish go

The evil heron kept inching towards George, who was getting more nervous all the time, until he decided it would be better to head for cover.

Lonesome George heading for cover.

Lonesome George heading for cover.

As the evil heron watched George walking away, Craig the cormorant dove to launch a submarine attack on the evil heron, surfacing right under the heron’s feet almost.

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

The battle was on!

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

Like a ballet dancer, the evil heron leapt away from Craig the cormorant as he pressed his attack. Then, Craig the cormorant broke off his attack to check on Lonesome George, who had turned around, and was headed towards the battle.

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

After a quick glance to see that Lonesome George was okay, Craig the cormorant rejoined his battle with the evil heron.

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

Again, the evil heron danced away from Craig the cormorant’s attack.

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

And once again, Craig the cormorant broke off his attack to check on Lonesome George.

Craig the cormorant checking on Lonesome George

Craig the cormorant checking on Lonesome George

The evil heron was still jawing away at Craig the cormorant, and must have made a comment about Craig’s mother or what ever way birds insult each other, for Craig turned on the heron once again, and pressed his attack.

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

Again, the heron danced away.

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

But this time, Craig the cormorant stayed right on the heron’s tail. The evil heron decided that leaving the water and standing on solid ground may be a better option, and give him the advantage, so that what he did, running right into a small flock of mallards that had taken refuge from the fight in the tall grass around the pond.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Craig the cormorant looked on as the mallards escaped into the taller brush, with the evil heron still hurling insults at Craig.

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

The evil heron, thinking that standing on solid ground would give him the advantage in the fight, started an attack on Craig the cormorant.

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

But the evil heron was no match for Craig the cormorant, so he retreated back into the brush.

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormoorant attacking a great blue heron

A double crested cormorant attacking a great blue heron

I won’t bore you with the photos of them standing thirty feet from one another jawing at each other for a while, the photos aren’t that good.

 Anyway, that’s the way it ended, the evil heron eventually walked back into the brush to hunt rodents, and Craig the Cormorant, being satisfied that the evil heron had been taught a lesson, swam back to his favorite perch to keep an eye on things.

Double crested cormorant

Double crested cormorant

There was some more jawing back and forth between the evil heron and Craig the cormorant, and eventually, the heron flew off for better hunting grounds.

Maybe I’m adding too much human thought to all that transpired, but it sure looked to me as if Craig the cormorant had come to Lonesome George’s rescue when the evil heron was making George uncomfortable with his presence and demeanor. During the times when the cormorant broke off its attacks on the heron, and turned back towards George, it never made any signs of aggression, nor did it make any sounds of aggression towards George.

There’s one other thing to add to this before I post it. Early on, after Lonesome George first was injured, a woman who lived in the housing development where the pond is located would stop by as I was sitting under the tree there and the two of us would exchange notes as to who we had called trying to get an animal rescue group to help George out. Our discussion turned to the way that George, Molly the mallard and Craig the cormorant hung out together, and I said something to the effect of wondering if having other birds around, even if they weren’t the of same species, made George feel better. Her reply was “I don’t know, but it makes me feel better, so I would assume that he feels better having some friends around to keep him company.”

I could go on longer about the “friendship” between Lonesome George, Molly the mallard and Craig the cormorant, but you can see the photos and make your calls on that.

That’s it for this one, there’s far more to come, although I have to admit not as dramatic as this one, but I think that you’ll find them interesting as well in their own way. Thanks for stopping by!

29 responses

  1. Absolutely delighful tale! Well-written, wonderful photos and an engaging cast of characters. Thanks for sending me the link to this post.

    Like

    September 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

    • Thank you, I thought that you would like it.

      Like

      September 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

      • You’re welcome, and thanks again for visiting here. 🙂

        Like

        September 6, 2013 at 9:58 am

  2. This was utterly marvelous. Thanks for the link. I’m trying to figure out which is the next episode.

    Like

    June 1, 2013 at 2:32 am

    • Thank you. It’s been so long since I posted those, I’d probably have trouble figuring that out myself. I had been offline for 6 months and was out of practice as far as blogging.

      Like

      June 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

  3. What a fantastic story and awesome captures to give us the imagery! I’m hooked to hear more about the three buddies! It is wonderful to hear that nature will help to take care of each other amongst different species. I love that!

    Like

    January 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    • Thank you, there are a few posts about George that I think you’ll like.

      Like

      January 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm

  4. Pingback: The continuing saga of Lonesome George, evil heron returns! « Quiet Solo Pursuits

  5. Pingback: The continuing saga of Lonesome George, astounding changes in attitudes « Quiet Solo Pursuits

  6. Vicki

    great story through photographs. I did not know that Herons hunt for rodents as well as fish, and I did not know that Cormorants could be aggressive. you have motivated me to stay at our local lake longer and look for inter-action between the species instead of being content to find a good opportunity to photograph something on its own.

    Like

    January 5, 2013 at 10:55 am

  7. Pingback: The continuing saga of Lonesome George, birds of a feather? Part I « Quiet Solo Pursuits

  8. Pingback: New Year day hike « Quiet Solo Pursuits

  9. Glad that you’re back! What a fantastic story- keep us updated about George and company! It makes me wonder if maternal or protective instincts can cross species lines- sort of like when Cardinals feed other birds or even other animals (I’ve seen photos of them feeding goldfish before).

    Like

    December 31, 2012 at 10:53 am

    • Thank you! That’s a very good point, one that I hadn’t thought of, but I think you’re right. I do have several more George stories, but I have so many photos from this summer that trying to sort them bogs down my computer to the point where it often crashes, and the photos aren’t organized very well. I have to do some photo posts to start weeding out photos out, so that I can put the Lonesome George saga together.

      Like

      December 31, 2012 at 11:03 am

  10. That was great Jerry. It’s good to have you back! I wonder what ever happened to George. Or maybe I’m better off not knowing.

    Like

    December 17, 2012 at 6:08 am

    • Thanks stopping by! The story of Lonesome George isn’t finished yet, and I didn’t want to divulge what happened to him before I then, I want to keep every one in suspense, as much as I can.

      Like

      December 17, 2012 at 9:28 am

  11. Northern Narratives

    I think everyone needs friends like Molly and Craig 🙂

    Like

    December 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    • Thank you, for both the comment, and the sentiment!

      Like

      December 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm

  12. What a fantastic story, you tell it so well and the captures really share the story.

    Like

    December 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

  13. Kim

    Very cool story, and I’m glad you included so many photos to help us see what transpired that day. I’m surprised to see the heron drown a rodent like that. So interesting. And I agree that Craig appeared to be protecting George. I have new respect for cormorants!

    Like

    December 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    • Thank you! Yeah, it was a very enlightening day, and summer for that matter.

      Like

      December 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

  14. plantsamazeme

    Wow, you’re back and with a wonderful story of George and his friends. You should be a professional story teller and a truck driver, then you wouldn’t even need a mortgage.
    Quite the step up in vehicles, 2013! You’ll be able to go on more adventures now! Welcome back.

    Like

    December 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    • Thank you, you’re being too kind. My story telling skills seem to have declined from lack of use this summer, I do hope to bounce back. As far as a new vehicle, between the financing, the warranty, and the fact that you get 3 years/36,000 of road service from Subaru, it seemed to make more sense to buy new, rather than a few year old vehicle. I could have purchased a cheap clunker, but I’ve been driving one of those for 6 years, I’m tired of not knowing if I will have to walk home from work each night. And, this is the last vehicle I plan to buy in my life, unless I live a lot longer than I expect. I do need to catch up on your blog, I have missed it!

      Like

      December 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

  15. What an excellent set of pictures. I’ll have to change my view of herons if this sort of thing goes on.

    Like

    December 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    • Thank you, but I wouldn’t say that the photos are excellent, I would say that they are very good snapshots that tell a story an excellent story. It was news to me that herons hunted small mammals, but they certainly did in my area this last summer. I have many shots of herons drowning hapless rodents, which I probably won’t post. The thing to keep in mind is that there really isn’t any good or evil in nature, just survival.

      Like

      December 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      • If a photo tells a good story, it is a good photo. Sharpness and composition are not the be all and end all.

        Like

        December 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

  16. I loved this, Jerry. Very enjoyable reading, and the photos help it along. Well done.

    Like

    December 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    • Thanks Bob, that always means a lot coming from some one as talanted as you!

      Like

      December 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm