Saturday, February 9, 2013

Like the Lone Ranger, the Geese Arrive to Save the Day!

"Never fear, the Lone Ranger is here!"
Canada goose breaking up ice at Harlem Meer this morning.
Romeo, Wiggly, Cochise and Conner diving and dunking to keep water moving.   (Other photos, clink link in text.)
Fearing the worst, I headed to Harlem Meer early this morning.

Although New York City was not hit as severely by the Blizzard of 2013 as Long Island and other locations, we nevertheless received 11.4 inches of snow in Central Park and blustery winds made temperatures feel much colder than they actually were (mid 20's).

Were the domestic ducks at the Meer able to survive the storm? I wondered.

Did all the mallards leave and the entire lake freeze over?

Unsure that all six flightless ducks actually survived, I approached the park with some sense of uncertainty and even dread.

Trying to "think positively" I anticipated that the domestics probably survived the storm, but were likely stranded on a bathtub-sized pool of water, frantically trying to keep it open.

But, I was in for huge surprise!

Although the entire eastern part of the lake was a silent, empty block of ice, devoid of all life, as I approached the western part, I could immediately detect a difference seemingly of night and day.

A large portion of the western part of the lake was open water and on it, a cacophony of vibrant, moving life -- including, Canada geese!

Oh my God, where did they come from?

At least 50 Canada geese -- like Lone Rangers coming to save the day -- had seemingly arrived with the blizzard!

The geese, along with a variety of ducks (including the six domestics) were busy moving through ice and dunking and diving in the water.

One could imagine the huge relief to the domestic ducks and mallards to suddenly have reinforcements arrive to aid in keeping open water.

It seems no bird is more proficient at breaking up thin and forming ice in the water than Canada geese.  Though they don't move as quickly or deftly as ducks, their size and weight alone is enough to crack ice like a drunk breaking glasses.

Fortunately, for the mallards, they did not have to leave once the geese arrived on the scene.  All the ducks appeared confident, energetic and well able to handle the cold, snow, winds and ice with the additional help.

One mallard hen, (apparently feeling her oats) even took time to brawl with and chase off a drake!

As for the domestic ducks, all of them, (apparently taking cues from the mallards and geese) dunked and dived in the water like accomplished scuba divers.

This was the first time I had witnessed them practicing the skills that had so served Brad all the winters surviving at Harlem Meer.   The fact is, if you are a flightless duck or goose, then you need to dive and dunk the water if you are going to make it through the winter. It is what helps to keep the water open and moving.

As for Hector, the mute swan, well, he was in the mix too.
But, Hector wasn't "working" very hard -- or even at all. 

It seemed Hector was more overseeing the efforts of the others and once again, enjoying the fruits of their labors. 

Hector has never been one to put himself out very much -- especially to aid lowly ducks.  Its apparently too beneath his dignity.

Words cannot describe the thril in seeing the newly arrived geese!

Though I obviously love geese for many other reasons, in this case, they really helped to make matters so much easier for the ducks (though admittedly that was not necessarily their goal, as much as to simply find open water or escape the worst of the blizzard). 

The question is, where did the geese arrive from?

They may have pond hopped from the Reservoir or they may have flown in from harder hit areas like Long Island or even Connecticut.

But, perhaps none of that matters.

The important thing is that the geese -- like the Lone Ranger -- arrived just in time to save the day for the other waterfowl surviving a blizzard and an angry, iced over lake.  -- PCA


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