Friday, December 24, 2010

Honeymoons and Holidays

(Picture: Alice [left] and Ralph [right] Photo taken prior to lake freezing over.)


A lovely sight last night.

Two familiar geese at Harlem Meer returned following the harassment of last week.

The pair who I have dubbed "Ralph and Alice" (after the Honeymooners of TV fame) have been regular visitors to the Meer and generally keep to themselves, rather than being part of an organized flock.

Alice walks with a limp and the gander is very protective towards her, though sometimes a bit pushy and dominanting. My guess is that they may be older geese who are very familiar with the particular advantages and challenges of Central Park. They come and go. They seem like they have been together a long time. Ralph is quite social with people, but Alice more shy and demure.

I saw them last night swimming in the open water pool at the Meer, along with BradJoLina and what is now a pretty decent number of mallards. In fact, the pool of open water is now double the size of what it was just a couple of days ago. It obviously helps greatly having the extra "reinforcements" of birds constantly swimming on the water and helping to break up some of the ice.

Unfortunately, Hector, the swan has not returned and I now have no idea what happened to him or where he went.

Since so many people were fond of Hector and regularly offered him treats, I was sure the big swan would return soon after the goose harassment ended, but that has not been the case.

"Geese Relief" sure did a number in terms of freaking out every bird at the Meer. There is no doubt that had Brad, Joey and Angelina been able to fly, they would have taken panic flight with all the shovelers, geese, mallards and swan last week.

Unfortunately, the three flightless ducks did not have that option and over the past week, have had to work and struggle tirelessly to prevent the small pool of open water at the Meer from freezing over.

It has now taken a week for even some of the mallards and two geese to return.

For some reason, BradJoLina did not seem that hungry last night.

They ate a little and then quickly returned to the water.

The mallards however, were ravenous.

Perhaps BradJoLina decided to be generous for Christmas and ceded most of their food to the mallards whom they need to help keep the open water. Or, perhaps some other human came along earlier in the day and fed them treats that otherwise might have gone to Hector, the swan.

My feeling is if we have to "bribe" the mallards to stay at the Meer and help keep part of the lake open, then so be it. Perhaps that is the reasoning of BradJoLina, too. They have seemed especially accommodating to the mallards recently. No pushing or dominating at all. These birds may be "silly" and feisty at times, but they are not the least bit stupid. They know what side of the lake is their salvation and they know what they have to do to make and keep it so.

No "white" Christmas for New York City this year, but the temperatures still hover around freezing and the wind chill makes it feel more like the teens.

I will run up later this afternoon to check on our feathered friends.

The return of the Honeymooner geese is a real treat this Christmas. I am hoping Ralph and Alice will elect to stay for a while, though Canada geese can be so mysterious and "flightly" that it makes predictions of their behavior nearly impossible.

Seeing the possible return of Hector, the swan would be a real Christmas present, though probably not a likely one.

Still, everyday that I see that BradJoLina and the other birds are OK and hanging in there with such guts and grace, through this trying season is, to me a holiday. -- PCA


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