Thursday, February 23, 2012

On The Move -- In More Ways Than One!

(Photos:  1-- Chrissy, feeling more confident with fewer drakes around. 2--Buster and Brianna enjoying romantic dinner.  3-- Buster on sentry duty, keeping other geese away from he and his mate.) 
Temperatures in New York City have soared over the past couple of days to those that are more comparable to late March or early April.
Sensing the early warm-up, geese and ducks are already on the move, pairing up, defending territory and in some cases, already mating.  (This link to a popular NYC blog displays photos of two geese mating at Turtle Pond last week.  Are the geese Mama and Papa who, in the past have utilized Turtle Pond as their exclusive  breeding site and playground?  One cannot be sure, but it seems a strong likelihood.)
Things are rapidly changing at Harlem Meer, as well.
Most of the visiting migratory geese and mallards have left presumably to embark on journeys to northern breeding grounds.
I first noticed the decline in numbers on Tuesday night.
Not only did fewer geese and ducks come to greet me and beg treats, but even those who did arrive to the south embankment were not so hungry and desperate to "fuel up" as they do during the cold.
Mallards were not tripping over my feet and even the small group of Canada geese were subdued and not all that eager for treats.  (Not sure if they were Buster and gaggle or another family of geese.  The four geese mostly took up sentry position on the edge of lake and peered out over the water.)
Due to the calmer atmosphere and fewer cantankerous mallards to pick on her, Chrissy (the lame mallard) hopped on the grass Tuesday night, walked around (almost like a normal duck!) and confidently scooped up treats!  (Usually, when many mallards are present and scrambling for treats and Buster is on a goosing rampage, Chrissy remains at the water's edge not wanting to get crushed under the waterfowl melee on the ground or attacked by aggressive drakes.)
But, with most of the mallards and geese gone now, Chrissy's confidence levels on ground (where her disability is more pronounced) have seemingly and dramatically risen.
The Bradley Brigade has also been a little different over the past two nights, but the change is mostly in Brad -- the small flock's leader.
Brad has been extremely "chatty" over the past couple of weeks, seemingly spilling out orders to his two charges, Piggly and Wiggly, a mile a minute. 
Not seeming that hungry in recent days, Brad is more concerned about re-establishing territory and showing the mallards who is "boss" at Harlem Meer.  Last night particularly, though there were only a handful of mallards on the embankment, Brad spent more time chasing and pecking the few mallards than actually eating.  (He was quite literally, the duck version of Buster or, more precisely, the "old Brad" once again.)
Meanwhile, Buster seemingly chased off the rest of his gaggle last night to be exclusively and romantically with his mate, Brianna once again.
Last night, Buster and Brianna were the only geese who showed up to greet and treat.
But, Buster only took a couple of hand-fulls of treats from my hand and then took up "sentry position" on the edge of the lake, while Brianna continued to eat seeds off the ground.
At first, I wondered if the two geese were actually Buster and Brianna?
But, when the guarding gander began to "goose" the mallards --especially taking specific aim at Piggly, I knew he was Buster.
Buster has apparently never forgotten (or forgiven) that terrible and humiliating night when the brazen domestic duck (Piggly) pecked some feathers off his butt!
It was time for Buster to get his revenge on Piggly and return the favor.
For his part, Piggy, (the "jokerster") simply pranced off laughing to himself.
"Ah, so easy to get his gander!  The silly goose is so full of himself!  But, Buster can never outrun or out-gander me!  LOL!"
There was at least one other pair of geese on the water last night at Harlem Meer.
But, with Buster on "sentry duty" while his mate snacked, the goose pair did not dare to come anywhere near the embankment.
Ganders on mate-protection duty are not to be messed with -- especially, Buster. 
While there are not many geese and mallards at Harlem Meer right now, there seemed to be many at the Reservoir last night.
But, I am guessing those mostly to be migratory birds on the move.  Migratory geese and mallards may stop at the Reservoir for a day or so to rest, but they quickly move on.
The unusually warm weather is only supposed to last until Saturday.
But, the geese and ducks are already on the move (in more ways than one) and that can only be expected to accelerate over the coming weeks and months.
For all intensive purposes, spring is already here.  -- PCA

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