Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day -- Geese Style!

Yesterday was beautiful, warm and sunny in New York City.
Figuring that Central Park would be extraordinarily crowded on "Mothers Day" Sunday, I waited until close to dusk to return to the Turtle Pond and Boat Lake areas for daily goose and wildlife "patrols."
I did not expect to see the two youngsters of Mama and Papa goose hanging out at the Great Lawn has they have been spotted a few times over the past couple of weeks.
Even at 7 PM, there were hundreds of people on the lawn, picnicking, playing ball and just enjoying the day.
But, the two-year-old sibling geese weren't at Turtle Pond either! (A favorite hangout over past couple of weeks).
Perhaps the reason for that was because there were several guys fishing around Turtle Pond, casting huge, long fishing lines on and across the water?
There were, in fact, hardly any mallards or other waterfowl at Turtle Pond yesterday.  It seems for whatever reason, they all took a hike.
The only wildlife visible on the small pond was the mass of turtles who almost always stay near the small "wildlife observation dock" at the west side of the pond.
But, apparently the fisherman weren't content having the entire pond to fish around.
One of them, a kid about 13, suddenly ran from a grassy area of Turtle Pond to the small (No Fishing") dock with a fishing poll jutting out in front of him.
People and small children had to duck out of his way.
Figuring that the kid was going to the dock to fish, I quickly followed.
And just as suspected, the boy immediately cast the fishing rod and line into the water where all the turtles lazily swam in circles below. 
But, thankfully, it was not I who had to correct him.
A man on the dock quickly pointed to the sign prohibited fishing, "You can't fish here, but there are other places....."
Grateful that someone else was willing to pick up the reigns of what little wildlife protection we have in Central Park, I turned around and made my way to the Boat Lake.
Arriving to the Boat Lake, I was surprised to see three pairs of geese swimming around in the water, though not as one flock. 
Wow, look at that!  Six geese!
Papa and Mama goose were however, relaxing on their "home" rock in the middle of the water casually watching the activities around them.
Gradually, two pairs of geese swam towards the rock where Mama and Papa stood..
I fully expected Papa to aggressively charge the visiting geese, but instead, he honked a couple of times as if welcoming them!
This was really strange, considering how Papa recently banished his own grown "kids" from this part of the lake!
Why was Papa suddenly being so accommodating?
Two of the geese even walked upon the rock.  They stayed for a few minutes and eventually left.  At no time during the brief encounter did Papa goose chase, harass or peck at the visiting geese.
The scene was totally baffling to me watching from the other side of the lake.
The two geese who had just left Mama and Papa began to swim across the lake towards the land rock where I stood with many other people.
As soon as they arrived and climbed out of the water, I recognized them as the same two sibling geese who had spent the past couple of weeks at Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn. -- Two of the grown goslings of Mama and Papa.
The girl (recognizing me) casually walked up and took some sunflower seeds from my hand, while the gander mostly watched and "guarded."
A number of people took photographs of the very social geese and I engaged in small "goose talk" with a couple of them.
A mother and young daughter loved seeing the geese and requested I take a photo of them together standing in front of the goose pair.  A professional photographer also shot photos and asked me various questions about geese.
It was all very pleasant and entertaining.
Finally, the two siblings left to return to the water.  Around the same time, the four other geese who apparently had stopped by that part of the Boat Lake yesterday, honked and took off for some other area of the lake or park.
While a little hard to figure out what exactly was going on yesterday, I decided to walk to the other side of the lake to be closer to Mama and Papa still sitting on their favorite rock, quietly watching everything.
Once in the Ramble where typically Mama and Papa see me, they, as always, left the rock and began to swim in my direction. 
Mama was happy to get her treat of sunflower seeds from my hand and Papa also indulged in his share off the rock.
Both geese seemed to be in particularly high spirits last night.
From behind me, a voice asked, in slight Spanish accent, "Are they Canadian geese?"
I turned around to see a man, perhaps in his early 40's curiously watching my interactions with Mama and Papa.
"Well, yes, they are Canada geese and as you can see they are very friendly." I answered. 
"They are very beautiful and as you say, very nice.  I love animals and come here to see the birds and other animals." the man replied.  "Nature is so lovely and peaceful."
The man and I talked for a few minutes.  He told me of his three rescued cats at home and how he abhorred any kind of cruelty or abandonment of animals.
I told him of the city's plan to round up and kill almost every Canada goose in our parks.
"That is unbelievable!" the man bemoaned, truly shocked.  "Look at these beautiful and peaceful birds!   What could anyone have against them?"
"The claim is they fly into airplanes."
"Ah, puleeze!  These geese stay here....I come to see them all the time!  That is just excuse!"
I gave the man a flier and requested that he look it over and become part of Goosewatch, NYC.
"Yes, gladly!  I will do whatever I can to make sure these geese are safe!"
By this time, Mama and Papa, having enjoyed their treats and seemingly, the entire evening, began to lazily make their way from the rock back to their home base.
Bongo drums could be heard in the distance and the sun had just gone down.
I said goodnight to the man and gathered up my two dogs to return home.
It was only when more than halfway home that it dawned on me that the "baffling" scene witnessed earlier was the grown goslings' return to visit their parents -- especially, Mama, on Mother's Day!
No wonder Mama and Papa were in such high spirits!
And how fortunate was Mama to actually get a personal visit from all her "kids" yesterday?
Many of us human parents can only expect a long distance phone call on such days!
I know there are those who will say that the visiting geese were merely taking leave of the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond or other areas of Central Park because of all the extra human activities and fishing yesterday.
But, I absolutely believe it was the "goose style" of Mother's Day.  --- PCA

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