Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Fair Weather Friends?"

As said many times, I never know what to expect when going to Harlem Meer to check on BradJoLina and any other birds who are there.
During the night of the blizzard and the following day, BradJoLina were at the Meer toughing it out and swimming frantically in the bitter and unrelenting winds to try and keep the water from totally freezing. Only two other mallards were with them.
But, Tuesday night, everything had suddenly changed!
Not only had the regular mallards returned (a group of about 30), but suddenly a whole bunch of Canada geese had also arrived on the mostly frozen lake! 
At first, I thought they might be the same geese who were chased from the Meer a couple of weeks ago by "Geese Relief."
They might be, but I am not so sure.
They are definitely migratory geese who most likely traveled to New York City from Nova Scotia or Canada to winter here.  But, whether they just arrived or have been bouncing around between the Reservoir and Harlem Meer for some weeks is hard to say.  Though not necessarily scared of humans, they keep a safe distance in the water and don't seem to *know* me as the ducks do.
Immediately, when I arrived to the Meer both Tuesday night and last night, the mallards recognized me and came running for food, along with BradJoLina.  
But, the geese remained in the water just gazing over curiously to what was going on.
One goose however, embarked onto to the snow Tuesday night and stood about 6 or 7 feet away from me simply watching with some interest and intensity what I was doing and how the ducks were reacting.
The gander who I imagine was on "sentry" duty did not approach me or eat any of the food. But, nor did he send out any alarms to the rest of the geese.  He just stood and exchanged glances from me to the flocks of geese on the water as if to say, "Its OK, no need to panic."
I was excited and thrilled to see the peaceful geese again.   But, another part of me was glad they did not approach for food.
BradJoLina and the mallards were so hungry that I could not get the sunflower and bird seeds and corn out of the bag fast enough.  Mallards who are normally a bit shy of people were swarming all around me, so close that I could touch them.  BradJoLina voraciously ate from my hands.
Within minutes all the food was gone and still the geese just watched with passivity and  interest. 
Or, perhaps they were just being polite, being after all, the "newcomers."
One goose who boldly ventured too close to the food was quickly admonished and pushed away by Joey, who has now taken over the "bullying" duties from Brad.   Brad and Angelina were too busy eating to pay any attention to the geese. 
Brad can, after all, take it easy now that the big white duck, Joey is part of their entourage.
While it can be presumed that BradJoLina are relieved to see the other birds return in order to help keep the water from freezing over, Joey actually stood for a while the other night with a somewhat disdainful look on his face as if to say, "Where the hell were you damn mallards over the past two nights when we needed you? You come back now to eat our food?"  
It does seem that to some degree, the mallards and even perhaps the geese are BradJoLina's "fair weather friends."   During the blizzard and its immediate aftermath, they were, after all,  no where to be seen.  ---PCA

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