Aggressive Goose

Exploring the towpath beside the C&O canal does have its seasonal challenges.  Most of it is directly due to the nature of the changing weather.  And then there are the things that can catch a first time visitor by surprise.

This is the time of year for the young Canada geese that were born in the Spring to starting exploring the space around them. They go about this activity under the watchful eye of the parent geese.  This happens to be a dangerous time for both the family of geese and for passersby on the trail.

I really do not have a good strategy for dealing with a protective parent goose that stands its ground on the trail, blocking your way, staring at you, while its little ones wander around.  You hope that the parent will gather the little ones and move off to one side as you approach.  The adult goose will most likely stand its ground instead.  Very frequently, the goose will hiss at you out of its open beak and take a step towards you.  You have to be patient and pass by carefully.

But when you are on a bicycle and moving at the decent speed, things can happen much too quickly.

I encountered families of geese several times during my first bike ride of the season.  The first time it happened, the parent goose refused to move as I biked by.  The encounter seemed to take place too quickly for it to react.  The second time, I started creating a racket as I approached the adult goose.  I was hoping that it would move away because of the noise before I got to it.  But, once again,  the goose stayed put while its little ones wandered around.

My third encounter with a family of Canada geese that day was the most dramatic.  I did not see any young geese around, but I knew what was in store when I saw the adult standing in the middle of the trail.  As I kept biking in its direction. the goose actually leapt into the air and took flight towards my face, catching me completely by surprise.  There was not much of a distance between us, and I did not have much time to respond. Fortunately, a collision was avoided.  It happened so quickly that I was not sure what actually happened to prevent the collision.  The goose went sailing past the right side of my face.  I did not lose my balance on the bicycle.   I kept going.  I Immediately encountered two goslings that suddenly jumped out of the bushes in front of me and crossed from one side of the trail to the other.  I am not sure what instinct caused them to do this.  Then, one of them suddenly turned and returned to the place it had come from, crossing once again in front of me.  Luckily, nobody got hit.  I think the parent goose that had flown past me landed in the water. I did slow down, but I did not stop to check out what was happening behind me.

The encounter shook me up a little bit, but I did recover my wits quickly.

I have encountered aggressive geese on the trail many times in years past, but never experienced anything like this.  I am not sure what strategy to take the next time I have such an encounter.