Friday, May 27, 2011
Through a Child's Eyes
Its been a grim number of weeks since the arrival of spring.
Virtually all the geese and most of the mallards who migrated back to Central Park from wintering locations in the south have since been chased out.
However, the most recent count of geese at Prospect Park (20) seems to indicate a few new arrivals.
I wonder if the goslings from Turtle Pond might be among them?
If so, they will soon be harassed out of Prospect Park.
Though thrilled to see two of the five grown goslings returning to their parents at Turtle Pond in recent weeks, I have not seen the two social geese now in some days.
That, in fact is what precipitated the short conversation with the birder/photographer the other evening at Turtle Pond. I asked him if he had seen the two other geese?
He told me he wasn't seeing many geese at all, but had observed the Border Collie harassment regularly, even as late as a couple of weeks ago.
It is all very distressing especially considering there are so few geese in Central Park to harass. (A grand total of 4 geese presently at the north end of CP.)
But, even when the goose numbers blossomed during and following the spring migratory return, they were never high by any stretch of the imagination.
The highest number I counted at Harlem Meer in April was 23 and at Turtle Pond 13. There were about 7 geese on the boat lake at that time. There are none now.
Were these the kinds of numbers that should have necessitated harassment and banishment?
Central Park of course denies trying to "banish" the geese from its lawns and watercourses. Even when admitting to having used the Border Collies in the past, the claim is that they only want to make geese "go from part of the park to the other."
But, that too, is nonsense.
The collies don't direct the terrorized birds on where to go.
Having witnessed "Geese Relief" in action last November at Harlem Meer, the swan who was chased out along with the geese, shovelers and mallards has never returned. It might have been "Hector" I saw at the Reservoir one time more than a month ago. But, the swan has since presumably been chased out of there, too.
And that is still one more problem with "goosebuster" programs. They not only harass the geese, but the other waterfowl that hang with the geese.
It seems to explain why all the lakes and ponds one sees now at Central Park are nearly devoid of geese and ducks.
Still, there are those precious few avian stalwarts managing to hang in there, despite the harassment, the fishing, the off-leash dogs and the ever increasing human traffic.
Last night I returned to Harlem Meer. I went fairly late in the evening in order to avoid seeing the fishing and the kind of nervous and evasive behavior observed in the waterfowl during daylight hours now.
To my great sense of relief, all was peaceful and normal -- at least according to what "normal" is these days.
Brad and Angelina (the two flightless, domestic ducks) were swimming in the water and came upon the embankment to boss around the few other ducks there. Both "alpha" ducks were back to their brazen and confident selves.
Meanwhile, Bozo and Bonnie, the only two geese still stubbornly clinging on at the Meer, were in the middle of the lake peacefully resting.
Upon seeing my two dogs and me, Bozo swam to and came up on the embankment. But, his shyer and less trustful-of-humans mate stayed behind.
There has been a marked change in Bozo over the past week or so.
He no longer hisses as my dogs, (though he watches them very carefully).
However, I saw Bozo hiss at a tiny Chihuahua the other day at the Meer. The young girl (about ten-years-old) who was holding the Chihuahua seemed to have a wisdom far beyond her years.
"I guess he's protecting his flock," she said, with a smile.
"Yes, he is," I told her. "You are very smart to realize that!"
Funny how kids sometimes are so much more intuitive and observant than adults. Perhaps its because they have not yet been jaded and brainwashed by all the nonsense and distraction that is out there.
Their vision is 20/20 and their minds are receptive to what is in front of them.
And so, like the young girl from the other day, my heart warmed when Bozo came up to greet me last night -- minus the hissing to my now familiar dogs.
I tossed Bozo some cracked corn, which he nibbled off the grass. I then retreated to a nearby park bench to sit with my dogs for a while.
It was a lovely scene:
Bozo sharing the cracked corn with a couple of mallards. Brad and Angelina throwing their weight around with the other ducks, gently reminding them of who rules the Meer.
But, then the peaceful scene was disrupted by a young man running by with two large dogs off leash. One of the dogs ran briskly towards the water's edge.
All of the birds suddenly had to dive and scatter towards the water.
Bozo started to lazily swim back towards the middle of the lake to be by his mate.
I bade all the birds a peaceful good night.
Walking back from the Meer, my spirits, like the child met the other day, felt lifted, whole and rejuvenated.
Still, a part of me wished for a day Brad and Angelina might find a real home where they could spend their final days not having to escape and evade free-roaming dogs, endless "goose harassment," fishing lines and in the winter, blizzards, bitter temperatures and an almost totally frozen lake.
No wonder these two ducks are so tough. They have never had it easy.
And small wonder too, Bozo is so "tough."
The geese don't have it easy anywhere these days. -- PCA