Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calls of the Geese

(Photo:  Group of migratory Canada geese who flew into the North Meadow yesterday.  Notice the gander keeping careful watch while the family grazes and rests.  Later, this gaggle of geese took off for unknown destinations and the skies.)
Incredibly, much of the ice that covered Central Park lakes, ponds and Reservoir has magically melted away over the past few days.
And so too (at least for the time being), have most of the struggles and challenges to the waterfowl of these areas.
The ducks and geese seem to be enjoying the newly created sources for both food and swimming.  Indeed, the mallards are particularly energized.  Lots of playful splashing in the water and exploring (both on land and water) over the past week or so.
It is no longer predictable on where I find Brad and Angelina when going to the Meer now.  They too, are "all over" so to speak.   No longer confined to a tiny pool of open water near the Dana Center, the two ducks now have the luxury of more than a third of the lake to swim.
Recent days have also found BrAdgelina  prancing cheerfully and proudly along the embankment of the lake as well as some of the nearby bushes and grasses. 
All the ducks are in fact,  "feeling their oats" these days.  They all look good and most are pairing off in couples, supposedly in preparation for the spring.  I believe this is a relatively easy time for them.   There is still not that much human activity in the park (such as fishing) and they don't yet have the stress of little ones to raise. 
Late winter might actually be the best time for the ducks.  
It seems late winter is also the best time for the Canada geese.
Though many thousands of these birds are already migrating to their spring breeding grounds and can be subjected to the hazards of either nature or hunters, for those geese already in public parks, it is a relatively peaceful time for them.
Most of the park lawns are still "closed" to human activity for the season, allowing the geese some temporary free feeding stations.  There is no fishing yet. And the various "harassment" or worse, culling programs are not yet in place.
Central Park, in fact, has many geese right now in various locations.   Groups of them are at the Reservoir, others seem to be stopping by the North Meadow.  And then there are the geese at Harlem Meer who seem to fly in and out of there according to the time of day.
Most of the geese leave Harlem Meer in the evening to presumably sleep somewhere they consider quieter and safer.
I am guessing the geese currently grazing at various times at the North Meadow to be migratory.  The large (and right now quiet)  lawns of Central Park seem to be appealing stop off points for the traveling geese to briefly refuel and rest before moving on.
Yesterday, I had the extreme good fortune of seeing and hearing several flocks of migratory geese fly into the North Meadow just before sunset.  But,  some took off again once the evening set in.   Would love to know what their ultimate destination was. 
But,  while the geese are quite vocal (particularly before taking off or in the air), unfortunately, I don't understand the wide assortment of goose honks.
The geese are however, quite beautiful to watch and listen to. 
The "calls" of Canada geese while flying, are, I believe, among the most haunting and beautiful sounds on earth. 
God forbid they ever be silenced. -- PCA

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