Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And the Swan and the Goose Shall Graze Together

(Photo:  Hector, the lone swan and Jessie, the lone goose grazing peacefully together last night at Harlem Mere in Central Park.)

A Magnificent Show it Was!

It was lovely in Central Park last night. But, the greatest show was not in the fireworks that burst over the Reservoir.

It was the sounds, sights and flights of the glorious, glorious geese.

Yes, the wintering migratory geese were temporarily spooked by the exploding lights in the sky.

But, such a show the geese put on! -- Like nothing humans could ever conjure up despite wildest imaginations or millions spent or even a million years past.

The geeses' calls, their perfect "V'S and circles in the sky.  Their ballerina landings in the water....their perfect steadfast togetherness -- even when stressed.  It and they were simply magnificent and spectacular.

A truly wondrous New Year's last night. And always because of the very beloved, cherished and mystical geese. 

May God protect them in this new year from the ravages and folly of humans.

Jessie: The "Lonely" Goose

The "arctic cold blast" that was predicted by some forecasters for NYC over the new year did not materialize.

That was good news for the waterfowl of Harlem Mere.

Most of the ice formed on the ground from a brief snowfall a few days ago, melted by last night.  Many of the ducks (including the four domestics) were back roosting on familiar embankment.

But, strangely enough, it appeared that some of the ice simply moved to the water. I was surprised to find more ice formation on the lake in view of the warmer temperature. 

Perhaps Harlem Mere freezing over in winter is inevitability regardless of fluctuating temperatures.

Apparently, the visiting geese from the night before sensed that "inevitability" and had departed by last night.

The only goose at the Mere last night was the same one observed over the past week.

Surprising and not surprising that s/he did not leave with the dozen or so geese who stopped at the Mere the night before.

Geese are of course, "flock" birds and it is unusual for a goose to be alone and on his/her own.

On the other hand, since most goose gaggles are comprised of family units (as opposed to rag tag groups), it apparently takes time for a new member to be accepted into an established order.   One day was simply not enough time for the lone goose at Harlem Mere to be accepted by the temporary visitors.

But, the good news in this otherwise strange and lonely scenario, is that the solitary goose (whom I will call, "Jessie" from this point forward) appears to becoming acclimated and comfortable with the other waterfowl at Harlem Mere-- mainly the ducks.

Last night, Jessie bravely made his/her way to me with the ducks and for the first time, actually partook of some offered treat.

It is not the first time I have observed a "loner" goose seemingly becoming part of existing duck flocks when circumstances call for it.

It is obviously better for the goose to be part of an established waterfowl flock than to be completely alone. 

And one imagines the ducks take some comfort in having a larger and vigilant goose around for a sense of security and aid in keeping open water.

Though unusual it is a relationship that works -- especially this time of year.

Though in many respects, bitter and harsh, winter ironically represents peaceful time of acceptance and cooperation among waterfowl and presumably other wildlife.

"All for one and one for all" as previously noted.  They simply do that which is necessary for survival.

The Central Park Reservoir -- A Predictor of a Cold NYC Winter?

Although I usually return home by way of the Central Park Reservoir most nights, I was not aware of the large flocks of geese and ducks apparently wintering there.

But, as noted, I certainly became aware of them last night.

That is because the New Year's fireworks display (that, while it actually occurs somewhere else), is easily viewed from the Reservoir.

The loud "booms" and exploding lights obviously spooked the waterfowl that mostly roosts at night in the middle or western part of the Reservoir (the reason I don't normally see the geese or ducks walking on the eastern portion of the Reservoir).

There was a loud cacophony of goose honks and "discussion" as soon as the first lights and sounds burst over the otherwise still waters.

And then, one by one, various skeins of geese gradually took off from the water and flew, (in very organized "V" fashion) either in circles or away from what they perceived as danger.

But, not all of the geese actually left.

Some goose gaggles remained stoically, but tightly knit on the water.  Perhaps these particular geese had previously experienced New Year's fireworks at the Reservoir and knew it was just a matter of waiting the celebration out.

After the fireworks ended, many of the circling geese returned to the water.  But, I imagine other gaggles might have flown into Harlem Mere or other still open watercourse in Central Park to temporarily get away from the commotion.

It was, as previously noted, "quite a show" by the geese last night.  One I do not recall from last year's New Year celebration in Central Park.

That is because there are many more geese and ducks this year at the Reservoir -- as opposed to other areas like Harlem Mere (where almost 100 migratory geese wintered last year).

I could be wrong of course, but that says to me that this winter will be much colder and perhaps snowier than last year.

It is usually during the cold winters in NYC that geese and ducks winter at the Reservoir because it is the one watercourse in Central Park less likely to entirely freeze over.

And the Swan and the Goose Shall Graze Together

Most documentaries and wildlife biologists will contend that geese and swans are normally "enemies" in the water and do not get along.  In fact, swans are often suggested as a "deterrent" against geese in those places seeking to chase and harass geese away.

However, it has not been my experience in observing these birds over the course of some years that they are natural enemies.

Though there can sometimes be competition and hierarchy battles among geese and swans (particularly during nesting seasons) and apparently some swans have been known to attack or even kill goslings, for the most part, these birds live peacefully together, if actually not "loving" each other.

It was particularly interesting to note last night that the lone swan at Harlem Mere (Hector) made no aggressive moves at all towards the one loner and new goose.

I was almost sure that Hector would at least harass and peck at Jessie (as he often does, the ducks) when the solitary goose sauntered over to his space, but for some reason, Hector did not.

One cannot help but wonder if Hector somehow sensed a kind of kindred spirit in that both birds are on their own without mate or flock?

It was somewhat amazing to see the two so-called, "enemies" peacefully and quietly eating within mere feet of each other.

And so, the swan and the goose shall graze together.

Kind of a nice, bible-like image and hope for the New Year.

That only the world of humans would know such peace and harmony with each other and the animals with whom we share this planet.  -- PCA


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