Geese and Men

Mis à jour : il y a 6 jours


Photo: Nathalie Sentenne

Once again this year, the snow geese are here to observe the surprising spectacle of a group from a specific cultural community getting stuck in the mud of the flooded fields.

"You can tell they worked hard to improve the show," said Mother Goose'. There is even one who decided to go and wedge himself up to the middle of his vehicule's wheels. It was quite spectacular, ”she added.

Photo: Marc-André Pauzé

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More seriously, there is an inescapable sign that spring is here: It's The Arrival of Migratory Birds. Some will stay with us until the fall, others are just taking a break from their great journey to the Far North. The most spectacular migration is undoubtedly that of the white geese or snow geese. They spend the winter on the east coast of the United States and move up to the Arctic to spend a few months nesting. They travel more than 4000 km at an average speed of 55 km / h, at an altitude of 1000 meters.

We decide to go to the south shore of the St-Lawrence river, on the shores of Lake Saint-Pierre - in fact a widening of the river - named "Biosphere Reserve" by UNESCO. Year in and year out, 500,000 snow geese take a break on farmland flooded by melting snow and spring flooding of the river's waters. They are there, by the thousands, in a field near the road.

Photo: Nathalie Sentenne

There were a few bird watchers, well seated at a distance so as not to disturb the birds, scanning the white mass with their tele lenses or through their camera lenses. There is a federal law prohibiting the harassing of migratory birds and a code of ethics for watching migratory birds. They give us the grace to take a break during their long journey, in a place where it is very easy to observe them without disturbing them.

But it's not just vocation birders. A large group of Asian origin is also there, as every year, it seems, according to a birdwatcher friend. In recent years, the region has been promoting the observation of snow geese among Asian communities in Montreal and Toronto. This noble bird is said to have significant significance in their culture.

Photo: Marc-André Pauzé

If experienced ornithologists know the ethical (and legal) rules for bird watching, it is not the same for the "customers" who come to consume and live an experience, a buzz. On other occasions, we have witnessed the disconnection of human groups with the environment and their relationship where the latter has become a consumer commodity. Visitors from Montreal and Toronto have come to consume what they have been sold; sky filled with soaring white geese. And if the time of day is a time of rest for the big travelers, never mind, they will organize themselves to have their Instagram buzz.

When approached, the geese always end up flying away, to the cheers and cries of joy from a jubilant crowd.

Photo: Nathalie Sentenne

The human, distorted and insensitive, especially when in a group, is a customer and he consumes, regardless of his origin. Lack of judgment knows no bounds. If the farmers of the south shore of the river see their fields plowed by hundreds of steps - or even by cars -, last summer, the Gaspésiens, for their part, saw their shores ransacked by neo-campers of Montreal. - some have even changed their motor oil in a salmon river - and Alberta wildlife officers must regularly intervene with tourists taking selfies with bison, if not with a grizzly bear. These days, in Estrie, more and more hikers are ignoring the closures of hiking trails during the thaw period and damaging the trails, often with serious consequences for the environment.

Human societies have many more similarities than differences, whether in their good sides or in their faults. All over the planet, humans often have the same concerns on a small scale. Taking care of his family and his neighbors, welcoming the traveler and giving him food. We are a social, creative, artistic and empathetic species. All human societies have known their sages, their humanists and their ecologists. On the other hand, they have all also caused wars, fueled racism, slavery, the exploitation of the most vulnerable and of resources. Whether nature is perceived as a commodity to be consumed or a resource to be exploited is only the logical continuation of the relationship that humans have with their environment. A relationship where he is unable to see beyond the tip of his nose and the common good is worthless.

When our species has at best become the equivalent of lizards regretting the glorious days of the dinosaurs, or at worst completely extinct, the planet will slowly recover and the geese will continue their very long and fascinating annual journey between the shores of the American east coast. and the Arctic.


In the meantime, it is by grumbling against the stupidity of the masses that we hit the road again. To paraphrase Plato, it is high time that Man finally got out of his cave once and for all ...


Photo: Marc-André Pauzé

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Adhering to the "code of responsible adventure", I do not geolocate with precision the places I explore, except in a few rare exceptions such as my trips to the Arctic or during a relevant historical reference.

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Texts, drawings, videos and photos © Marc-André Pauzé - all rights reserved.

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