Monday, April 18, 2011

Joy for the Geese Has No Human Boundaires

(Photos:  Papa goose all alone for the moment;  Dads with toddlers enjoying the geese at Turtle Pond; Brad and Angelina finally relaxing; Mama goose sitting steadfastly on eggs.)
The other day, I speculated that the five yearling goslings at Turtle Pond might chase off the three remaining, visiting geese.
That appears to be true.  Only, it looks like three of the goslings went along with them!
Wouldn't it be funny, if after all the bickering and posturing, they all paired up with each other and took off for other adventures around the park?
Only two goslings were at Turtle Pond yesterday, bringing up the grand total of geese presently there now to four.   Mommy, Daddy and the two remaining yearlings.
The two youngsters entertained toddlers and their dads at one end of the pond.  While Papa goose continued to monitor the western end of Turtle Pond, occasionally stopping by the pier to greet people or request a handout.
Other times, Papa returned to sun himself and rest on one of the small rocks near the pier.
Daddy seems to be resting a lot these days.  Presumably that is in preparation for the stresses that raising a new family will bring to him and his mate in less than a month.
Mama goose, meanwhile continues to steadfastly sit on her eggs, barely moving, except to occasionally change position.
It is clear now why Papa goose forwent so many offers for food earlier to enable his mate to eat almost everything.
It doesn't appear that when sitting on eggs, the female goose take much time to eat.  They presumably live mostly on fat reserves.
But, Papa is eating well these days.  That is presumably because once the new family arrives, Papa will spend most of his time on "sentry" duty.  So vigilant are ganders in protecting their mates and goslings, they rarely take time to lower their heads to nibble on grass. 
Rather, they are almost always in "heads up," guard position -- especially at night.
After checking the goose situation at Turtle Pond, I walked with my dogs later in the day to Harlem Meer to see what the update was there.
Sure enough, in addition to the five "regular" pairs of mated geese already there, there appeared to be about six new ones!
Were those the three goslings and their three new friends from Turtle Pond?
One could of course not be sure, but its as good a guess as any.
I know that the goose family from Turtle Pond did spend some time at the Meer, once the goslings learned to fly last year, so the turf would not be foreign to them.  Moreover, this time of the year (when most of the migratory geese have moved on) the remaining "resident" geese would not move far from the park itself.
These days, the remaining mallards and geese at Central Park seem to spend a good deal of time flying around and checking out other locations.  Perhaps it is an exploratory and adventurous time for the younger birds who are not nesting, but rather getting to know each other, as well as their general terrain.
There were even two geese swimming in the Reservoir yesterday!
Certainly, it is difficult to get any kind of real "handle" on the number of geese (or mallards) at any given location in the park these days, as it varies from day to day.
The only birds remaining "constant" are the older, mated pairs or the flightless, domestic ducks at Harlem Meer.
Speaking of which, Angelina seems to be once again, going through the motions of nesting, though I don't believe she actually lays any eggs.
Last year around this time, Angelina spent about a week or two, sitting in an area under the big Willow tree near the Dana Discovery Center.
I was worried then, that she might be sick as she didn't seem interested in either eating or swimming around. 
But, then she perked up again and returned to swimming around with her mate, Brad.
Well, yesterday, it was the same thing.
Angelina perched and relaxing under the tree and barely moving around.
Meanwhile, her mate, Brad stayed with her part of the time, but then swam around in the lake not far from her other times.
I wonder if "false pregnancies" occur in ducks?
Anyway, I am not going to "panic" this time, but rather presume that Angelina might go through these motions every spring. 
Or, perhaps it simply is a case that in view of the hardships and lack of rest these birds experienced over the harsh and grueling winter, they are finally able to take it easy and relax a little during the much easier spring.
Still, so many questions and so few real answers, as much as speculations.
Meanwhile, some adolescent kids seemed to enjoy tossing some crackers and treats out for the geese and few ducks yesterday.  
I even noted that some person left what appeared to be fresh broccoli stalks for the geese.
Indeed, the main thought I came away with yesterday from a Sunday in the park, was how the love of geese (particularly) seems to pass across all ages, races and even the two genders.
It was two Caucasian dads with their young toddlers who fed and took great joy in the two geese at Turtle Pond yesterday.
It was teenage African American kids and an older Latino woman enjoying and offering treats to the geese at Harlem Meer.
Love and joy for the geese in our city parks has no boundaries among their human admirers. --- PCA

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