There is a spot along the Colonial Parkway, on the way back from Jamestown Island, where I’ve wanted to stop and take photos for several weeks now.
There is no designated parking area along this long stretch of open fields beside the James River, but there is a privately owned dairy farm on the opposite side of the road.
We always enjoy watching the herd of cows who pasture there. The family also maintains a small herd of goats, who love to escape, and a few Llamas.
My interest in the field beside the river is, of course, botanical.
There is a large colony of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia humifusa; native to hot, sunny, well drained areas along the East coast; growing in this field beside the river.
I mentioned to my partner how much I’d like to photograph these cactus in bloom.
With very light traffic so early in the morning, we pulled over into a driveway by the dairy farm’s gate.
Now the pasture is home not only to the cows, but also to a huge flock of Canada Geese.
They enjoy the low areas of the pasture which fill with water and the abundant supply of food.
Yesterday morning the geese were feeding in the rich, wet grass beside the road.
When we stopped and I got out, and started walking back towards the field of cactus; the geese were not amused.
In fact, the leader gave the signal to the flock, and they all turned and began the long journey from pasture to river…. on webbed foot.
Every goose in the flock obeyed the command- in single file.
They reminded me of the Penguins who paraded around the London Zoo when I was a child.
The geese were visibly unhappy at my approach.
But they were between me and the cactus we had stopped to photograph.
One or two stood up to full height and spoke honks of caution, warning me to keep a safe distance as they passed.
A lone car approached along the Parkway, and stopped to watch the spectacle.
Every goose in the flock eventually plodded along the long route from pasture to beach.
They milled about on the sand, watching out for one another, and finally launched into a flotilla paddling out into the current.
As the last of the geese marched across the field, I followed.
I went all the way to the beach, following their progress, taking photos of this not yet explored area along the river’s bank.
And yes, I managed a photo or two of the cactus along the way.
But mostly, I was intrigued by this “up close and personal” visit with the deliberate and dignified community of geese.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014