Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reinforcements -- Reason for Hope?

(Photo: Joey, Brad and Angelina taking brief respite yesterday. Minutes later, they were back in small pool of water swimming constantly to keep it open.)


It is impossible to know anymore what one will find when going to the Meer to check on BradJoLina or any other birds there or Central Park in general.

The below normal temperatures of December have caused the meer to almost entirely freeze over, leaving only a small pool of open water for the three flightless ducks to survive on.

Since the "chasing off" last week of the Canada geese on the lake, along with the swan, the shovelers and most of the mallards I have been worried almost constantly that the three ducks would not be enough to maintain any open water and thus might be in jeopardy of not surviving.

However, when going to the Meer the other night, there was a surprise in store.

The pool was at least twice the size, despite the freezing temperatures!

As I got closer, I suddenly realized why.

"Reinforcements" had arrived!

A group of about 20 new mallards were busily swimming around in the pool with BradJoLina!

So confident were BradJoLina with the new arrivals, that the whole group briefly left the pool and came skitting across the ice to the other side of the lake in order to feed.

Thank goodness, I thought. Now, if only the mallards would stay!

Yesterday, however, was an entirely different story.

I went to the Meer shortly before dusk and only BradJoLina were on the pool, frantically swimming away.

All the mallards were gone.

This time, as expected, the three flightless ducks dared not leave the open water and so I went to them. Brad, Angelina and Joey briefly left the water, walked over the ice and onto the embankment in order to feed for a short while and then returned hastily back to the water.

They had a job to do to keep the pool of open water from freezing over and they had to constantly swim on it.

After leaving the hard working trio, I then walked to the Reservoir to see what the bird situation was there.

Unlike Harlem Meer, the Reservoir is not yet frozen. It is entirely open water to this point.

While it can be presumed the Reservoir is much deeper than Harlem Meer and thus less inclined to freeze over easily, there is another reason the Reservoir is not frozen:

There are quite literally hundreds birds on it.

Migratory mallards are now on the Reservoir, along with sea gulls and shovelers. And in recent days, the migratory Canada geese have finally arrived from the north! (Yay!)

Last night, there were several large groups of the geese on the Reservoir lazily swimming and honking away. It seems they were unusually chatty. Perhaps discussing the adventures or challenges on their long trip down to the states from far north? (Avoiding the hunters must have been the biggest obstacle.) Though one supposes many of the geese were lost due to the stresses of migration and hunting, I personally was pleased to see that their numbers looked good and healthy. Geese are amazingly resilient and resourceful animals -- one reason to so greatly admire them.

I did not walk around the entire Reservoir as the winds were cutting and I saw all that I had come to see.

However, as I began to exit, two groups of mallards adding up to about 20 suddenly left the Reservoir and took to the skies.

They were heading in the direction of Harlem Meer!

"Go, go guys! BradJoLina need you to help 'em out! Go break up that ice and give 'em a break!"

And then to BradJoLina, a silent thought:

"It's OK guys, you can relax soon. Your reinforcements are hopefully on their way!" -- PCA


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