Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot to Trot, They're Back!

Photos: 1-- The "Hot to Trot" geese, newly returned to the Meer.  2-- The "mystery eight," who, while staying at the Meer through the molt, seem to originate from elsewhere.)
No sooner than writing about "staging sites", then a dozen new geese suddenly arrived at Harlem Meer -- along with incredibly oppressive heat!
At first, I thought I was suffering double vision in the high heat -- even at 7 in the morning.
I could see a group of geese along the east embankment of the Meer.  But, then there was another group in the water!
But, no it wasn't a delusion or double vision.
There actually were new geese!  Twelve of them to be exact!
Since my plan however, was to take a swim and then survey the geese, I headed to Lasker Pool which is located right next to Harlem Meer.
Even at the very early hour of the morning, one felt an urgent need to cool off.
I don't know if one can ever say, "It is too hot for swimming," but if so, today is the day for it.
Lasker is a beautiful, large outdoor pool.  One can swim laps in the early morning or the evenings from 7 to 8:30 PM.
Normally, the water is cool and invigorating.
But, this morning, it was more like warm, bath water.
I actually felt weighted down when swimming the first few laps.   After a while, I got used to it but it was really strange to come out of the water after 45 minutes and actually feel hotter than when first going in!
In all the years of swimming, I don't think I have ever experienced that before.
Although it wasn't even 9 AM when I left Lasker Pool,  the temperature was already 90 degrees with high humidity. 
The sun felt like a blaring furnace.  Everything about the day, even at that early hour was "oppressive."
Walking around, one felt as if carrying lead weights on one's shoulders.
Today is the first day, one didn't even see runners in Central Park.
But, the newly arrived geese were at the Meer and they were hot to trot!  In fact, they even seemed to have brought along a whole bunch of new mallards that apparently flew in with them!
These are the geese I am more familiar with at Harlem Meer.  
The ones who are very comfortable in their "home" and freely walk up to people.  Even Brad, the flightless, domestic duck (who last month lost his long time companion, Angelina) apparently abandoned the shyer geese at the Meer to join with what might be, in fact, his old pals.
The new geese were gathered on the north embankment, close to benches where a number of people sat and enjoyed watching them.  A small, Shih Tzu dog curiously wandered around the geese, but the geese paid no mind to her.  These geese are very accustomed to people and dogs.
I had some seeds on me and tossed some to the geese and to Brad who remained swimming in the water.   A couple of the geese boldly walked up to me, but shied away from eating directly from my hand.   That was OK.  It is better that they not get used to begging treats from people, although I think these geese are already very used to that.
It is quite apparent that these are among the same geese who routinely return to the Meer both, in the spring and the early summer, once their molting is completed elsewhere.
They will stay at the Meer from now until they are either harassed away or leave on their own around October to fly south for the winter.
But, they should be just the first batch of many that should fly in from now until the end of August.
After greeting the new geese, I walked to the east embankment, where the "familiar eight" geese (the ones who molted at the Meer over the past 7 weeks) were still languishing on the grass.
These geese are easy to recognize by both, their shyness with people and the fact two of the geese are banded.  One goose even has bands on both feet!
I am not sure why these geese molted at the Meer over the early summer.  It was obviously a good and safe choice for them as geese have been rounded up and killed from other parks around the city. 
But, its also obvious that the "familiar (or should we say, "mystery") eight" were not born at the Meer or more likely anywhere in New York.  Even after 7 or 8 weeks of living at the Meer, these geese are still not entirely comfortable and when I approach, they have tendency to nervously back off.
The mystery eight are extremely wary and people-shy geese.  Part of me wonders if they are from a more rural part of the country; perhaps some place in Pennsylvania?  Pennsylvania does band many geese.  It is also noted as being big hunting country.
In any event, there are currently two groups of geese now at Harlem Meer.
The "mystery eight" who I believe are not from New York.  And the dozen "old troopers" who have returned to their old and familiar haunts and should be (If all is still OK with the geese) just the first of many more to come.
We shall see.
Meanwhile, the temperature has just topped 100 degrees in New York City and is still climbing.
This may be the time that is "hot to trot" for the geese, but it is definitely now, "too hot for swimming!"  -- PCA

No comments: