Monday, May 20, 2013

After the Rain -- A Brief Respite for the Wildlife of Central Park

No worse for the wear.  Mated pair of geese at Harlem Meer together again after eggs failed to hatch.
"Cochise," one of the domestic ducks enjoying rare romp in grass at South part of Meer this morning.
Connie and Connor adventuring away from protected area of Harlem Meer this morning.
Wiggly and her Romeo.  Two birds not of feather still together.
 There was an unusual air of peace and serenity around Central Park and Harlem Meer this Monday morning -- unusual that is, for this time of year.

Scores of turtles basked in the sunlight on rocks surrounding the Meer and a few brazen turtles even ventured happily upon the grass.

An elderly man sitting on a park bench tossed small bread pieces to a few grateful pigeons while a young girl snapped photos of a couple of mallards basking on a rock.  

The four domestic ducks (Cochise, Connor, Carol and Connie) abandoned to the Meer last November ventured to South part of the lake and frolicked in the grass this morning -- something not observed on any consistent basis since the end of winter.

And the two geese who attempted nesting (presumably on the tiny island at the west of the Meer) were once again together, apparently having given up all hope that their eggs would hatch after six weeks of failed nesting.

It is disappointing that the eggs of the Harlem Meer goose pair failed to hatch.  But, on the other hand, any goslings that would have hatched at the Meer would have had a tough time surviving considering all the fishing and carelessly discarded fishing tackle. The goslings would have been easy targets for mishap and injury.

The parent geese appeared to be no worse for the wear.  The gander watched out protectively while his mate grazed peacefully in the grass.

The reality is that no matter how disappointing it might have been for a failed nesting, wildlife (unlike humans) cannot afford to grieve their losses for long.  Life is, quite simply, a daily struggle to survive. It has to move on despite loss.

But, perhaps what was most surprising this morning about Harlem Meer was how cleaned up -- and nearly immaculate it was!

Perhaps all the rain of the weekend helped to wash everything clean as well as it kept human activity, including fishing to a minimum.

But, it was also apparent that in recent days cleaning crews had worked hard at the Meer and cleaned up virtually all of the debris, including fishing lines and other tackle carelessly discarded around the lake. 

For one of the few times all month, I was unable to find any fishing line on the grass or ensnared around plants at Harlem Meer.

And the wildlife there (apparently sensing heightened safety) appeared to be celebrating this morning and enjoying some rare moments of peace and serenity.

I have not enjoyed at all, the role of "bitchy pain in the ass" over these past few years whether it be with USDA, various locations entering into goose killing contracts with USDA "Wildlife Services" or the leadership of Central Park.  

But, walking around Harlem Meer this morning and noting healthy, contented wildlife,  I could not help but feel some sense of brief and small satisfaction.

Certainly, it is still very early in the season to proclaim any "victories" at all in terms of protecting park wildlife and specifically, Canada geese.

The early harassment of Central Park geese and possible destruction of eggs, as well as one goose entangled around the bill with fishing line (and discarded fishing line around the Meer) are all ominous signs of bad things already happening and further bad things to come.

But, there still remain a few glimmers of hope.

Other people beside myself are looking out for the geese.  The two nesting geese in Central Park continue to protect nest and sit on three eggs. And there appears to be (at least for the moment) greater vigilance in terms of clean up at Harlem Meer.

While we still don't know and have not found again, the goose with fishing line and fake fish around bill, a part of me is hoping that somehow, the goose was able to untangle him or herself from the line -- perhaps by rubbing up against plants or tree limbs. 

Miraculously, a goose shot through the neck with an arrow at Prospect Park in 2010 was able to remove the arrow himself a couple of weeks later:

Tragically and ironically, the goose named "Target" by the Prospect Park community was then rounded up and gassed by USDA less than two weeks after freeing himself from the arrow.

And it is precisely this that is the real reason why, as disheartening as it is to become a "squeaking wheel" so to speak, we have to.

Nothing in fact, can ever be taken for granted.  

But, at least for this morning, it was really nice to see the wildlife of Central Park and the Meer enjoying some brief moments of peace and respite. -- PCA



Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,
I went for a walk around the meer around 4:00 this evening and spotted the goose with the artificial fish and wire wrapped around it's beak. He was directly across the beachy area and he kindly swam to me where there's a break in the fencing to get a bite to eat. While he was near me I called the dana center and told the lady that picked up about the goose the needs assistance. She replied that the rangers are aware of the goose and they cant get to it And that there were not rangers in the park. Yet the goose was right next to me. I wish there were a way I could've safely removed the wire from the goose. There is also wire puncturing his chest.

I'll attach a picture I took of him today. Thank you for everything you do for these animals.

PCA said...

Wow, this is outrageous.

Do you know if this goose is able to eat at all?

The plastic fish is now obstructing the bill.

Thanks for the photo. I will make more calls.

Sadly, I have not seen this goose at all, though I was at Meer around 4 PM last week.

Will go again today. We need to know if this goose can eat.

Meanwhile, more calls......