Sunday, February 27, 2011

Of Wayward Winds and First Hints of Love

Found this incredible video on YouTube of geese flying through and landing during a 60 MPH wind storm.  It bears further proof of the strength, determination and organization of these extraordinary birds:
Speaking of wayward winds, what a difference the wind makes!
For the past two evenings, the temperature when I left home to head to the park was 38 degrees.
The difference is that last night, there was barely any wind. 
Friday night, the winds were blowing at something like 30 - 40 miles per hour.
Though the temperature was comparatively mild Friday night, my hands were freezing through the gloves and the hood on my jacket kept blowing off.  At times, I was barely able to walk through the angry, blustery tides of Ol' Man Winter seeming to cough and violently sneeze.
Although there were hundreds of joggers and cyclists Thursday night on the park drive, I barely encountered any on Friday.  High winds must not be too comfortable for running or bike riding.  
And yet, birds who weigh far less than we do, can and will fly through 60 MPH wind storms!  Quite incredible when one really thinks about it.
Unlike Thursday night when the ducks and geese at Harlem Meer took the respite in harsh weather to rest and even sleep on the ice, Friday night found them battling once again, the elements and vigorously swimming in the water.  I suspect, however, that the swimming was in effort to stay warm and "grounded" so to speak as opposed to prevent freezing of the water.  The warmer temperatures this late in February pretty much guarantee that the existing pool of water will not turn to ice.   Still, the wind is another matter.
Brad and Angelina were the first birds to come scurrying to me Friday night.  Unlike the night before, they were quite hungry and eager to "fuel up."  Likewise, the dozen or so mallards with them, along with six Canada geese.
One of the geese in this group of six who seem to remain at the Meer in the evenings (after the others have flown off), I have given the name, "Bandy."
That is because Bandy is easily recognizable by the small, white metal band on his/her leg.
It would be fascinating to know where Bandy originated from (Central Park does not band geese).   But, the band is so small, one would have to grab the goose to read it and in my case, don reading glasses.  Don't think I will learn this information any time soon.
But, Bandy recognizes me now and comes up to me.
She is not a goose who is used to eating from human hands. (I say, "she" even though I am not sure of sex.  I am guessing by posture and behavior, Bandy is a girl, but please don't hold me to that.)
The first time Bandy took food from my hand, she almost took my glove with the seeds.  She is getting better now, but still seems a bit awkward, shy and unsure of herself.
Brad, (the flightless drake) on the other hand,  is as smooth as a mini vacuum cleaner.  He learned to eat from my hands from Joey and so is quite accustomed to it.   His lady friend, Angelina, by contrast, has only eaten from my hands once.   That was painful.  She almost took my hand off.   Angelina is one tough little broad.  I am content to throw the seeds to her on the ground, rather than encourage her eating from my hands. 
I may not be a musician, but I still need my hands.
If Friday night was a little like battling through a hurricane, last night, (Saturday) was like, well, quite literally, a "walk in the park!"
Sure, the temperature was only 38 degrees, but with no wind, it felt warm, cozy and crispy.
Was surprised not to find a lot of joggers and cyclists out last night. It seemed like the perfect workout weather.
But, if exercise enthusiasts didn't quite get the message that spring was on its way to the park again, the birds sure did.
Walking around the Meer, I saw several pairs of ducks seemingly out for a moonlight, romantic stroll on the ice.
And not only the mallards, but the geese as well!
Two pairs of (seemingly) smitten geese were casually strolling the grasses as if to proclaim, "Something in the air tonight.  Our thoughts turn to love!"
And so, the group of mallards and geese still at the open pool of water, were a bit smaller, but included Brad, Angelina and Bandy.
Though not quite as famished as the windy, bitter night before, all the birds came to the embankment and took their treats quite peacefully without any bickering or pushing around.
Though 38 degrees may not sound like "spring" small hints of it were in the air last night.
Instead of blustery 30 MPH winds and struggles to survive, scents, sights and movements were all towards the promise of upcoming weeks and months.
They were of romance and pairing off.  -- PCA

No comments: