It is a long way from Montreal to Cap Tourmente past Quebec City but I never begrudge the drive. Snow geese come here in the spring and particularly in the fall. I don’t remember when or with whom I started coming but the sight of thousands of geese taking a stop on their way from the Arctic to a warm winter home in the Carolinas is truly wonderful. The Autumn colors blaze from the mountain with its cliffs that are home to falcons. When my cousin and I arrived today I was just losing a race with rain clouds that had been pursuing us all the way from Montreal. We just managed to walk to the look-out on the edge of the marsh when the rain started in earnest. At first I was a little disappointed as the young man whe greeted us told us there were ” only” 25,000 geese there today. However he told us that the tide was turning and that soon we could expect to see the birds approach the shore. Sure enough they did bob into view and to our great joy more and more birds began to appear in typical line formation and to join the birds already in the river. He said that this flight formation was a sign that they were just arriving from the North. Birds who are just flying around the shore do not bother to get into formation.
We heard the pop pop of the hunters’ guns but did not notice any birds falling. The hunters are strictly controlled and only allowed to shoot birds in flight. Since the spectacular increase in the numbers of Snow Geese over the past 20 years some birds can be taken without damage to the huge flocks that appear.
As more and more birds landed and came closer and closer to the shore I felt the old joy at seeing them. No matter what chaos reigns anywhere in the world, no matter what dirty politics grab the headlines, no matter my own worries or heartache, these wonderful creatures just keep on doing their thing. I love them, I pay homage to them, I hope to see them for many many more years. I wish them safe journey generation after generation.