(Photos: "Little Brad" and visiting migratory geese.)
Bracing for a "Frankenstorm"
A "Frankenstorm" is supposed to hit New York City on Monday.
One has to hope the predictions for severe and unusual storm are overly inflated.
But, if not, I worry for the ducks I see each night. Particularly, the flightless ones, Wiggly and Honker at Harlem Meer, as well as "Little Brad" the mallard who is recovering from some attack or injury from a couple of weeks ago.
Although Little Brad is doing amazingly well, (particularly over the past few days), I am not sure he is yet strong enough to survive a potentially devastating storm.
Wiggly and Honker, though healthy and hearty domestic ducks, have never faced severe and extreme weather challenges. Wiggly did survive last winter with the guidance and protection of Brad (who died last month), but it was in fact, a mild winter in New York City.
One imagines the mallards and occasional migratory geese stopping over at the Meer will find suitable cover from the storm.
But, for those without the power of flight, the upcoming week could represent significant challenge and stress.
Keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer for my special duckies.
Despite the similarities in birds of the same species, when there is injury, human attention is drawn.
And so my attention was drawn to "Little Brad" early last week when noticing the crippled mallard struggling to hop around on one leg and constantly falling over.
Because special efforts have been made on my part to get extra nourishment to Little Brad, it seems a kind of "bond" has been created between the compromised drake and myself.
Little Brad is the first duck to greet me each night at Harlem Meer, as well as he is the first duck to "escort" me out when I leave, usually by following me in the water.
Little Brad and I have in fact, established a special kind connection and routine.
As soon as I arrive, Little Brad hobbles out of the water and comes to greet. I bend down and offer seeds from my hand to him, while trying to ward off the other ducks (including Wiggly and Honker) who quickly move in.
Lately, Little Brad has been holding his own, despite some very nasty attacks from other mallards. Moreover, he is gaining strength in the injured leg which is apparently not broken.
Little Brad has been putting weight on the battered leg in the past few days and is now able to walk albeit painfully.
After some time of warding off attacks and quickly scooping up as much cracked corn and sunflower seeds as he can get, Little Brad eventually hobbles back to the water. He then watches me from the edge of the lake until I gather my dogs to leave.
And then like a drum major in the front of the parade, Little Brad swiftly follows, as I leave the Meer with my two dogs. He follows all the way to the southern most tip of the Meer, with the other ducks swimming behind him.
It is the most remarkable and fascinating thing to observe -- and in fact, completely reminiscent of the other duck, Little Brad is named after.
Original Brad was of course, my most beloved duck at Harlem Meer for the past several years.
Tragically, Brad mysteriously died last month.
But, how strange and almost eerie to see his name-sake exemplifying the exact same behaviors.
I can only attribute it to a special kind of connection of consciousness.
Over the past week, several flocks of migratory Canada geese have stopped over at Harlem Mere, presumably, on their way to their winter habitats.
The geese typically only stay one day and then quickly move on.
One cannot describe the thrill of seeing once again, these gorgeous and forever majestic, proud and often funny angels of the skies.
Stopping to feast on grass and rest for an evening, the geese are not without their antics.
The gander from one family the other night, chased another gander in the water with gusto and other flock members following in support.
A few minutes later, all the geese returned back to their families, though with more "respectful" distance between the two flocks when on the grass.
Last night, there was numerous "pecking order" behavior displayed with what appeared sibling rivalries. One youngster pushes another and sometimes the parents have to play referees.
But, one knows that in the end, the geese will get their act together when the serious time comes for them to move on.
Loyalty, courage and organization in the animal kingdom are nowhere better displayed than in the life patterns and migratory habits of Canada geese.
Anyone who doubts that need only watch the two videos
When danger lurks, gaggles of Canada geese indeed become one. -- Perhaps one of the prime reasons for their very high and deeply admirable survival rates. -- PCA