When out in my kayak, I get to see a lot of birds and animals on the water and along the shore. I've been out a couple of times this week, on calm flat water and pleasantly bouncy ripples. There have been an abundance of ducks and surf scoters, and some otters darting around. A pair of killdeer have been screeching in the park. An eagle soared over my kayak, and a crab scuttled under it.
And then, as I was coming close to the shore where the Buddha sits, there was something on the steep rocks that I hadn't seen before. It looked like a black snake, rising out of the scrubby greens growing on the rough slope. It was as big around as my wrist! I could see it was long... the part I could see was almost as long as my arm. The snake was moving -- swaying -- in an odd way. I started to worry that it might drop out of the greens, off the rocks, into my kayak. I've had spiders for passengers, but a snake would need more room than I like to share.
And then as it moved more, the black snake revealed itself to be ...not a snake. It was a Canada goose, with its long black neck. The goose was perched on barely enough room to sit, half-way up the little cliff. Beside it was its mate, turning a white-cheeked head to glare at me.
All right! I know you're laughing.
In my defense, I'll point out that people on the water or at the shore often mis-identify seashore animals. Some sightings of huge sea monsters such as Cadborosaurus are probably due to smaller animals such as seals and otters being spotted by people unable to judge how far away the animals are in the waves. I know that when Alison and I saw two whales on our way to Island View Beach, it was really hard for us to tell just how far away the whales were and just how big they were.
Yeah, yeah, I know somebody's still laughing. Look, this was a really big goose, okay? The biggest I've ever seen. Much bigger than most Canada geese. I didn't know they could get that big. And yes, when I knew what I was seeing, the snaky black neck still looked almost as long as my arm.
Turns out there are several subspecies of Canada goose, one of which is named "maxima" -- probably the variety I saw. And the smaller Cackling goose was considered a form of Canada goose until recently. You can check out some photos comparing the relative sizes of these geese at this link, eh?