Saturday, March 9, 2013

Late Stragglers and Admirers of Geese

"Late stragglers" of migratory Canada geese pecking through snow last night at North Meadow in Central Park.
Canada goose and mallard hen at snowy Harlem Meer last night.
Every now and then a journalist actually researches the subject s/he writes about as remarkably demonstrated below:

Sadly, when the subject has been Canada geese, few reporters and journalists have shown themselves willing to curiously investigate as much as they have been willing to spout propaganda.

That is why most people when asked about Canada geese know precious little about them other than that they "poop" and the plane that landed in the Hudson in 2009 (flight 1549) collided with Canada geese.

But, that is basically to know nothing at all about these birds who majestically migrate through our skies every year and are often seen swimming or grazing around area parks and lakes.

Fortunately, not everyone buys into the hype (and lies) against Canada geese.

Last night, I had the very pleasant experience of encountering someone in Central Park who was, in some ways more observant about geese than even I.

But, more about that later......

Winter apparently gave a last gasp by dropping four inches of snow on New York City in the past couple of days.

The early buds of spring were ironically surrounded by snow last night in Central Park, though their survival can be surmised as temperatures quickly warmed and rebounded today.  Nature is presumably used to and adaptable to such temporary weather shocks.

The icy slush around the Reservoir made the running path unsuitable for any kind of human activity last night and thus all was quiet.

In fact, it was unusually quiet and still around the Central Park Reservoir, as it appeared all the migratory geese recently left the safe wintering or temporary resting spot to return to nesting locations far further north.

But, not all of the geese actually left Central Park.

Apparently, we have some late migratory stragglers.

Imagine my surprise to see about 40 geese casually pecking through the snow on the North Meadow last night!

For whatever reason, these particular geese elected not to leave with all the others, almost all of whom left Central Park over the past week or so.

Perhaps the 40 geese decided to wait out the recent storm? I wondered. Or, perhaps they were newly arrived from the south and taking a brief rest stop before moving on?

I had no way of knowing the answer and so I took out my camera to take a couple of photos of the mysterious geese grazing at least 50 yards away.

Just then I noticed a middle-aged man with a small dog standing by the fence surrounded the North Meadow and staring (like myself) at the geese in the distance.

When finished taking photos and walking past the man, he smiled in my direction and said, "They're beautiful, aren't they? The geese, I mean."

"Oh yes, they are," I concurred.  "I think they are migratory and will probably be leaving soon with the others.  There were almost 200 geese here last week."

"I know these guys," the dark haired man who appeared to be either of Spanish or Native American descent said proudly. "You hear that honking?  That is their leader. They will take off in a couple of minutes, but they don't go far."

Just then, one gaggle of about ten geese did take flight from the grass and headed off south in the direction of the Reservoir.

I wondered if the two humans staring at them made them a bit nervous as migratory geese are generally more wary of humans than resident geese.

"They come here in the evenings, graze a little and then fly back to the Reservoir where they feel safe," the man told me.  "I love to watch them."

"Yes, well we are lucky to have the geese in Central Park," I replied.  "Thousands of geese have been rounded up and killed in other parks throughout New York City, but fortunately, not here."

"Yes, I know about that," the man answered despondently.  "Its horrible that we cannot learn to live with and respect nature. There is no balance in that. All animals have their place and are important to the ecology.  One day the imbalance will come back to haunt us, but, I hope I won't be around for that."

I nodded in total agreement. "Guess that is why we have to appreciate the geese while we still have them."

Both of us smiled and bade a good night.  "Nice meeting you."

I then continued to walk to Harlem Meer, immensely pleased that I had met someone who appreciated the geese as much as I did and perhaps knew them even better than I.

Arriving to a snow covered Harlem Meer, I was further pleased to note all my favorite ducks had survived still another storm and that the 20 or so, "late straggler" migratory geese were still there. 

But, in a couple of weeks, even these late straggler geese
will be gone.

That will be a kind of sad day for me.

But, I won't be the only one.

Its good to see the occasional article that truthfully depicts geese and its even better to meet in person, other people who deeply appreciate nature and the geese's essential part in it.

I wonder if the geese realize all of their admirers and defenders?

That only the politicians and the rest of the media did. -- PCA


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