Monday, September 3, 2012

They're Back! -- Old and New Duck and Goose Alliances

(Photos:  1--The new goose family. 2-- Brad and Wiggly last night having some "words" after Wiggly's wandering adventure.   3-- Danny, not decided yet, on whether to remain with ducks or request membership into new goose family.)

Wiggly -- A Very Fickle Duck Lady

Brad was beside himself last night at Harlem Meer.

The flightless Rouen duck who has survived for years at the Meer by forming important alliances with other domestic ducks was missing one of his two partners last night.

I found Brad with Honker in the usual area, along with a bunch of mallards, but where was Wiggly, I wondered?

Brad was running around anxiously, obviously looking for his female companion of almost a year.

At one point he hopped into the lake and swam around looking for Wiggly, only to return to the embankment looking totally frustrated.

"Where the hell is that ditzy woman?" I could hear Brad thinking.  "I have warned her a thousand times to stay close, but she doesn't listen!"

In the recent past, I have sometimes noted Wiggly hanging out with Honker and both domestic (Kacki Campbell) ducks wandering a bit away from Brad.   And before Honker arrived on the scene about two months ago.(obviously left at the Meer by a human), Wiggly sometimes lazily hung back on the embankment while Brad was in the water.

Wiggly's lackadaisical attitude about staying close to her protector at all times has more than once given me cause for concern.  But, last night I began to feel some element of alarm.

In the past when suddenly not seeing one of the members of the "Bradley Brigade" it has usually been bad news.

Brad, in fact, has lost three of his flock members over the past two years.

Joey, the white Pekin duck was attacked by a dog on the ice in February of 2010 and had to be rescued.   Angelina, Brad's long time female companion for several years vanished in the early summer of 2011.  And Piggly, discovered shortly before Wiggly last fall, vanished in the spring of this year.

Was it happening again, I wondered?    Was Brad again experiencing another loss?

Not wanting to assume the worst, I noticed a bunch of mallards congregated along the western part of the embankment and decided to go and take a look. 

Sure enough, Wiggly was among them.

"Oh, here you are, you little twit!  Don't you realize your flock mate is practically having a heart attack looking for you?" 

Not at all nervous or perturbed about missing her two flock mates, Wiggly sauntered up to me looking for treats as if nothing in the world was amiss. 

From the corner of my eye, I could then see Brad waddling quickly along the embankment to meet up with his lady love again and following behind him, Honker.

"Well, at least I am good for something," I thought to myself.

By the time I left the Meer last night, all three flightless ducks were once again together, though Brad was quacking a mile a minute and Wiggly answering  back to him in kind.

"What do I have to do to keep you in tow? Don't you realize the dangers here all of the time?  I turn my back for minute and you disappear!  I am your protector,  NOT your baby sitter!"

"Oh, you are so paranoid!  I was not alone.  There are lots of mallards here now. Why all the fuss?"

"You wait until the winter and see how many of these 'good time' mallards will still be around when the lake freezes over.  You keep forgetting, they can fly.  You can't!  We domestics have to stay together all of the time!   That wandering is gonna cost you some day!"

"A gal needs a little space once in a while!  You're too controlling and overbearing!  I was not far away."

"Yeah, well let's see if you are saying that when the lake is a block of ice, your ass is freezing over and all the mallards high tail it outta here!"

For his part, Honker just hung back and kept completely out of the fray.

The Bradley Brigade is once again in tact -- though not without a lover's quarrel.
"We're Back!"
The geese were back last night.

Not just Danny, but the new family of 8 geese who arrived last week.

Danny is both, with the family and not with them.

I first discovered Danny last night standing along the western embankment amongst the mallards. He was gazing out on the water (seemingly lost in thought)  where the two parent geese and their six goslings quietly roosted together.

After a while, Danny came to me and gently took some sunflower seeds from my hand.

Once again, curious, the family of geese then slowly sauntered over to the embankment to check out the scene.

They came upon the grass, stood and looked around and stretched their wings.

Though not totally "fitting in" with the new goose family, Danny nevertheless was closer to them last night than previously and seemed somewhat comforted by their presence.

I cannot be certain, but based upon past observances, I am guessing that if the new goose family hangs around the Meer for a while, Danny will be eventually accepted into them.

But, the choice seems to be more his than theirs as the family appears to be confident, peaceful and secure either way.  The fact seems to be that the family can take or leave Danny.

When leaving the Meer last night, Danny chose to follow me for a while along with the Bradley Brigade and most of the mallards.  The goose family remained grazing on the embankment.

Danny apparently hasn't made up his mind yet on whether he wants to become a "duck" so to speak or return to being a goose.

The latter requires Danny to forget his own mate or family which has apparently been lost and request membership into the new goose family and flock.

Though it may take a little time, my hope is that for the sake of his own ultimate survival, Danny eventually makes the wise and practical choice of joining up with the new goose family.

I have little doubt they will accept him.  -- PCA


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