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HANSEL AND GRETEL

2007 to Present (Nov 2013)
By Choo Choo Love


Hansel

     When I met Hansel in early September of 2007, I mistook him for Greg, a gander that we'd befriended back in 2005 and 2006 (see photo of Greg below)


Greg


     Thankfully, I had my camera with me and after comparing photos of Greg and Hansel, I came to the conclusion that Hansel was definitely not Greg. Hansel's cheek pattern was not as wide and not as blocky as that of Greg's and Hansel eyes were also white ringed. Anyway, I decided to name him Hansel because that name sounded the closest to handsome and Hansel was definitely a very handsome gander.


Hansel and Gretel at the nest site

     Naming this new gander Hansel of course meant that his mate would be named Gretel! 

     Hansel is a gregarious and reasonably aggressive gander. He is quick to pick fights with other ganders and is often seen pecking at other geese in a successful effort to get them to move out of his way. He also has a rather high pitched call that sets him apart from the others.


Hansel fights with another gander

    
     Hansel and Gretel surprised us by showing up to nest in the spring of 2008. As this was the first time we`d seen them nesting in the area, I assumed they  were a young couple, perhaps three to five years of age.
We briefly saw them with about six goslings but the following week, they appeared at the pond without any goslings and we assumed their goslings had ended up with the gang brood parents.

     They flew north to molt and returned in the fall of 2008 and were a permanent fixture at the park until they migrated south in early November.

     They returned to the same nest area in spring 2009 but vanished for a few weeks for no apparent reason. Again, their second nesting attempt was unsuccessful and they only showed up once at the park before heading north to molt over the summer months.


     Hansel and Gretel returned to our park in the fall and once again, they were here almost everyday. They're part of the Official Greeting Party that consists of Frank, Mrs. Frank, Fran, Duce, Donna and BIGG.
The whole party migrated south November 12 even though the weather was unseasonably warm and lovely.

2010

     Hansel and Gretel showed up at the nest site April 4th. They looked very healthy and Hansel was his usual gregarious, talkative self. After feeding, they bathed and as I watched and photographed them, Hansel mounted Gretel and proceeded to mate with her. I couldn't believe my luck!







After mating, Hansel appears jubilant while Hansel preens. They proceed to bathe themselves vigorously before swimming away.

     We saw them only once in the spring and figured that they decided not to use the same nest site, for whatever reason. It didn`t seem to mean much to them that we were providing food.

     They returned to our park pond in late September and hung out with the usual flock of geese until they migrated south November 13.


2011

     We are delighted to report that our dear friends, Hansel and Gretel returned to the nest site in April 2011. They were their usual rambunctious, gregarious selves and we had a very joyful reunion for our five years of friendship.  Hansel and Gretel left the park in June to head to their usual molting grounds.  They returned in September and we enjoyed them till they migrated south in early November.

2012

This is only the second time we've returned to the park this year and the first couple to come up and greet us was Hansel and Gretel, looking healthy and happy.  It was a joyous reunion with our long time friends and we hope to see much more of them before they migrate south.

October and November 2013

I hadn't visited our park all year due to Earl's illness.  But in early October as tens of thousands of geese congregated on city ponds, I noticed a fairly large flock of geese grazing at the field close to our house.  I decided to stop and offer them some grain with the hope of seeing some of my old friends.  To my delight, I was greeted by Hansel who was with his long time mate, Gretel.  In the flock was also Mrs. Frank, whom I've known since 2004.


We usually have snow on the ground by early November but not this year.  The weather was pretty nice and I fed them till they migrated south November 9.