My jaw is . . . agape. And I don't mean the 'type of love' kind of agape.
My brain is . . . agog.
I am a . . . mazed.
Bothered, bewitched, bewildered.
I'm home. In from chores. And, A-N-O-T-H-E-R goose is gone. Not the smallest (my Toulouse goose, Tallulah). No, one of the big American Buffs. Gone. Poof!
I'm nearly speechless.
This morning, when I let them out, there were 4. Tonight, when I herded them inside, there were 3.
The dogs were DEFINITELY on the trail of something just off the driveway, so, with flashlight in hand, we went exploring . . . but there was no sign of ANYthing. No scat, no feathers, no nothin'.
I'd set the trail camera up on the driveway, hoping to get some critter loping up or down it, but the image count was only at 2 . . . registering the two times we had just walked by it while searching for clues.
I'll set it up in the poultry yard tomorrow. Even if I have to wade through 339 pictures of the geese (since it's motion-activated), hopefully I'll get a shot of the predator. And, if not tomorrow, then the next day.
I tell you, though, I feel like I'm losing my mind! Did I close the gate? Yes (and yes to each of the times I went back to check)! Is there a starving hobo living nearby? Maybe it's a hungry Yeti?
There's no four-legged critter I can think of that could climb the fence, grab a big goose, and then climb back over and out. Any two-legged critter coming in (I'm not saying I believe in Sasquatch, but, hey, we're grasping at straws here) would spook the geese enough while trying to nab one that they would probably be scared when I entered the yard. So, that leaves a winged predator. A really big-@ss winged predator. (Or a really smart four-legged that lets itself in and out through the gate.)
The thing that still holds me back about the whole eagle idea, though, is that I don't see them around here a lot. At least, not in the mornings when I'm out and about doing chores. 'Course, there were two circling on Saturday when Tom was out to work on the roof. Maybe I'm not seeing them because I'm gone during the day when they're hunting. And, I did just find this online: "most eagle-caused flushes of geese occurred during mid-day". So, there ya go.
Too, there's this story from a couple of years ago:
We'd gotten a road-kill deer - a small buck. The head was in fine shape with small antlers, and so Tom put it aside for us to either set out (somewhere safe) to dry in the sun or to boil it down. (I think I was going to boil it down, if memory serves.) Anyway, it was sitting on a bench outside the garage in a plastic Target bag (too high for the dogs to get to). And, it was heavy. I mean, a whole deer head WITH small antlers.
After it had been sitting there for a couple of days (it was cold out), I went to fetch it to boil (I remember now). It was a sunny day, and so I'd set a single electric burner out on the deck (I sure didn't want that smell in the house!). I went to get the deer head, but it was gone.
I came inside and asked Tom, "Where'd you put the deer head?"
He said, "I didn't do anything with it. You moved it."
Well, turns out that, within the previous 24 hours, it had gone missing and we'd both assumed the other had moved it. Once we cleared that up, we went looking for it. 'Cause, c'mon, it was HEAVY . . . it couldn't have gone very far.
Across the yard from the garage, caught in some scrub Moose Maple, I found the Target bag. Empty. Meanwhile, Tom came back holding something.
"Uhhh, I didn't find the deer head, but I DID find this."
And he presented me with an old, well-chewed and quite heavy deer backbone fully attached to its ribs.
(Queue the spooky music, "Oooo-OOOO-oooooh!")
So. While we never did find that deer head, our fanciful (or maybe NOT so fanciful?) theory was that an eagle had been flying overhead with the ribcage / spine in its talons. It looked down over Swamp River Ridge and spied the Target bag. It thought to itself, "Hmmm, I wonder what's in that plastic bag?" It swooped down, ripped the bag off the deer head (the bag did have long, sharp cuts in it), and . . . exchanging what it had in its grasp for the better treat that had been "behind Door #3", dropped the old ribcage and flew off with the heavy (and meat-rich) head instead.
Makes you think, don' it?
What's YOUR theory?