Friday, January 20, 2012
Daffy -- The "Black Goose" of the Family
(Photos: 1-- Daffy arriving with the mallards. 2-- Brad figuring strategy with Wiggly and Piggly 3-- Daffy, "What you got for me?" 4-- Beleaguered flock mate of Daffy keeping sentry watch.)
Every family has one. The one "black sheep" that dances to a different drummer and gives the family more than one case of heartburn.
But, more about that later.....
It apparently wasn't just me "getting old and feeling the cold" Wednesday evening.
The drastic slide in temperature and relentless winds were enough to ice over almost the entire lake at Harlem Meer in less than 24 hours.
But, due presumably to the healthy number of working geese and ducks, two large pools of water remained open.
When arriving to the nearly frozen Meer last night, almost all of the geese and ducks were clustered around and/or earnestly swimming in the two existing pools.
While no "expert" it seemed from observation, that the ducks and geese took turns either resting at intervals or "working" the water.
Once again, the waterfowl had their work cut out for them. But, there seemed to be both organization and determination in maintaining the two open pools.
Recognizing me, a bunch of mallards quickly made their way from the north side of the lake to the familiar south embankment where I immediately tossed seeds to them.
Piggly, Wiggly then came trotting across the ice, followed by the forever diligent Brad who seemed reluctant to leave his swimming and diving duties -- even for the sake of a meal.
Brad ran immediately up to me to quickly gather seeds from my hand, but I could almost hear his mind rumbling over and over, "Gotta get back to the pool....gotta get back....."
As fast as I could, I filled several handfuls of sunflower seeds for Brad and tossed the rest to his flock mates and the mallards.
I was surprised that the geese weren't coming my way.
But then, I noticed one goose leaving the rest and gleefully trotting across the ice.
That's odd, I thought.
The wayward goose eagerly hopped on the embankment and cautiously walked up to me.
Is it Buster? But, where is the rest of his gaggle?
But, I knew he wasn't Buster from the awkward and tentative way he took the seeds from my outstretched hand.
"Ouch! Take it easy there, fella! You need to be gentler."
A quick learner (or understanding English) the goose was softer after that.
But, the scene looked bewildering and borderline funny.
One goose in the middle of a bunch of ravenous mallards and three domestic ducks! (I whipped out my camera and took a photo.)
Meanwhile, Brad having quickly filled his belly in record time, gathered his two charges, Piggly and Wiggly and seemed to have a word with them. (I took a photo of that, too.)
"Look guys, I am heading back to the pool to work on the water."
"But, we're still hungry!"
"Well, OK, you can stay for a bit longer. Grab what sustenance you can, but you need to get back to pool and back to work. We cannot have this entire lake freeze over!"
"We will be quick! Be back within ten minutes! We promise!"
And with that, Brad trotted quickly on the grass to the closest point to the pool across the lake. He then jumped on the ice and practically ran back to the open pool and immediately started swimming.
Brad is not one to ever slack off when there is important work to be done.
Piggly and Wiggly returned back to me and quickly ate like there was no tomorrow.
Meanwhile, two other geese walked determinedly across the ice in my direction.
But, it wasn't me they were coming to see. Nor were they seeking treats or handout.
They were apparently flock mates of the "wayward" goose who was still clumsily snatching treats from my hand.
Arriving to and hopping on the embankment, one of them approached the still munching goose and loudly honked.
"What the hell are you doing over here? Are you daft hanging out with the mallards and a human? We thought a dog or coyote got you! How many times do we have to tell you NOT to wander from the gaggle! There is work to be done!"
"Oh, come on! I didn't wander far! Cut a guy some slack. I was hungry!"
But, the other two geese weren't satisfied.
"Daffy, you are gonna get yourself in real trouble one day! We cannot keep running to fish you out! Mom and Dad are furious!"
But, the rebellious Daffy wasn't listening to lectures.
Instead, he returned to gather the last of the treats.
His two frustrated, but loyal flock mates took up sentry position on the edge of the lake and watched across to the pool where presumably the rest of the family was busily working.
Meanwhile, having finally satisfied their appetites, Piggly and Wiggly trotted along the embankment and hopped on the ice to quickly return to Brad as promised. All three ducks were then reunited and vigorously swimming in the open pool of water.
My bag of treats finally gone, it was time to gather my dogs and begin to head home.
The remaining mallards and Daffy began to follow me.
Behind them, the two flockmates of Daffy reluctantly turned and also began to follow.
But, that had nothing to do with "departure rituals."
The two geese were apparently assigned the duty of looking after their wayward brother. Presumably, they would eventually get Daffy back into the fold. But, it was obvious they were not happy with their independent and rebellious brother who didn't seem to take duty, protocol and family obligations all that seriously.
Oh well. I guess every family has them.
That one "black sheep" (or, in this case,) goose who dances to a different drummer and causes the family more than one fleeting case of heartburn.
Hopefully, Daffy returned with his siblings and helped to break up at least a ruler-sized slab of ice. -- PCA