Thursday, March 22, 2012

Feasts and Famines

(Photos: 1-- New goose pair at the Boat Lake.  Though they came to greet a human offering treats, they spent their time preening on rock, while turtles enjoyed a "feast."  2-Mama and Papa on different rock preening and resting.)
Some good news coming out of both, the UK and Lacey, New Jersey the past couple of days.  Both locations have decided to shelve planned culls of geese in favor of allowing non-lethal population control measures sufficient chance to work.   For the latest updates and news articles on these and other noteworthy events, please go to our Facebook page:
Closer to home, migratory populations of geese have seemingly all left Central Park along with most of the mallards who wintered there since December.
The other day I walked around the Reservoir and Turtle Pond where just a few ducks were observed and no geese.
At the Boat Lake in Central Park, it was however, a different story.
I counted a total of nine geese (ironically, the same number that molted at the Boat Lake last summer.)    This number includes the Boat Lake goose family (Mama, Papa and their three youngsters hatched at Turtle Pond in 2010) and two pairs of seemingly "new" geese.
I was a little surprised that the family was still at the Boat Lake as usually in March, they return to Turtle Pond (the site of nesting and previous successful gosling raising).
The fact that the family still hasn't returned to the pond is bewildering.  I am not sure if this means that Papa and Mama will not attempt to nest this year (they are after all, a little along in years) or if they are delaying return for some reason.   Last year, something happened to the eggs that Mama was sitting on near Belvedere Castle and they didn't hatch. (The geese are usually also subject to harassment at Turtle Pond during the spring and late summer and fall.)
So, the fact the family is still at the Boat Lake leads me to believe they might attempt to stay there through the summer.  But, whether the parent geese attempt to nest at the Boat Lake or not seems questionable.   
Their behavior the other day did not seemingly indicate either an existing nest or preparation for one. Mama and Papa were mostly hanging out and preening themselves on the familiar rock in the water where they usually slept last summer along with the other geese who molted with them.   Their three youngsters were also on the rock the other day, but in a lowered position on it (family hierarchy and rule?)
I had hoped that Mama and Papa might swim to the rock on the other side of the lake where I usually see them and occasionally offer treat and take photos. 
But, there were five young guys fishing on that publicly accessed area and the geese and ducks kept distance from it.
There were also many people boating the other day due to the beautiful and unusually warm weather.
Although the geese are very used to boats, it seemed they opted more for relaxing and preening than navigating through so much (perhaps unexpected) human activity so early in the season.  
The other geese on the boat lake were paired off and also mostly resting and preening.
A cyclist stopped to sit and rest on another publicly accessed rock.  The man tossed some bits of bread towards one pair of geese in the water and they then gregariously joined him on the rock.
But, the geese did not show any interest in the offered food. 
Instead, they preened themselves, while turtles appeared to grab the small bits of bread floating in the water.
In essence, what has been observed at Harlem Meer over the past couple of weeks is also occurring in other sections of Central Park.
Migratory populations of geese and ducks have left to return to spring and summer breeding or molting grounds.  The remaining "resident" geese and mallards are mostly paired off these days and concerned with preparations for either breeding or summer molting (all that attention to preening). 
And with all the new spring blooms and plentiful food supplies, it seems the last thing the birds are interested in are offered human treats.
I wonder if the geese and ducks sometimes say to themselves, "That only humans were so generous over the winter!"  
Too bad the waterfowl can't "squirrel" away the treats offered during fair weather for those days in January and February when neither food nor generous humans are plentiful.
"Feast or famine" it must seem to them. -- PCA

No comments: