Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Glad, the Sad, the Phantom and the Funny

"Aren't you going to sit on it?" Harry asks Honker at Harlem Meer this morning.
Two geese enjoying a peaceful moment.
Dead squirrel at base of tree. Victim of accident or something else?
Central Park maintenance staff cleaning debris off lake this morning.
I am beginning to think that the fishing line goose at Harlem Meer takes off flying just moments before I arrive each day. 

The seemingly "phantom" goose with fake fish and fishing line wrapped tightly around bill is yet to be seen by me although known and photographed by others.  Perhaps, it is just as well because I am not sure how I would handle emotionally, seeing the injured goose in person. Perhaps she is simply attempting to spare my feelings by vanishing each time before I arrive.

There were a total of 7 geese at the Meer this morning.  The paired geese whose eggs failed to hatch were peacefully grazing at the western portion of the lake.  And a gaggle of 5 geese lazily swam in the water at the eastern part -- the last place the fishing line goose was reported to have been.

But, thankfully all the geese appeared perfectly healthy and fit.

Although it was barely 9 AM when I wandered around Harlem Meer this morning, park crews were already out cleaning up any trash on the lawns and even in the water. Two workers manned the raft, slowly and carefully skimming the lake for debris.

Once again, I did not find any discarded fishing lines along lake embankments -- something very positive to see in terms of prevention of wildlife injuries due to carelessly discarded tackle.

But, not all was well for the wildlife of Harlem Meer.

Sadly, a dead squirrel lay at the base of a tree.

I notified a maintenance worker for Central Park Conservancy of the dead squirrel and asked what he thought might have caused the little animal's demise?

"He might have fallen from a tree," was the guess.

But, considering the exact location of the squirrel (base of tree) and the fact squirrels are extremely adept at jumping through and climbing trees, I had doubts about the explanation.

Rather, it seemed the squirrel was trying to escape from something by running up a tree, but wasn't fast enough to get away.

One speculates that the "something" was probably an unleashed dog as there are no real predators in Central Park (other than perhaps people).

While the overwhelming number of dog owners are responsible and respectful of Central Park and its wildlife, there are unfortunately those few who are either lackadaisical and inattentive to what their dogs are doing or actually encourage their dogs to harass and potentially even kill wildlife.

As previously reported in this blog, "Joey," a Pekin, domestic duck was attacked on the ice at Harlem Meer in January, 2011 by a dog and sustained a deep bite wound on the back.  Fortunately, Joey was rescued, treated at the Wild Bird Fund and later adopted out.   Last year however, another duck was attacked by a dog in Central Park and was not so lucky:

"Off leash" hours in Central Park are a positive thing for dogs and their owners as socialization and play time are beneficial for all.

But, for those dog owners who abuse this privilege by allowing their dogs to jump into the water (or on ice in winter) and harass waterfowl or chase and potentially kill other wildlife, such irresponsibility could eventually result in off leash privileges being revoked for all dogs and their owners.  Such would again be a sad case of good people paying for the actions of the self-entitled and irresponsible. 

As with the fishing at Harlem Meer, too many people view privileges as entitlements and opportunity for abuse.  Such attitudes hurt all in the end, both animal and human alike.  

I don't of course know for sure, what killed the squirrel today in Central Park. But, based upon past observances and experiences, suspicion falls upon the usual suspects.

It was just a sad thing to see -- especially since natural wildlife is so quickly vanishing in our parks.  One would hate to see squirrels go the same way as wild rabbits who (according to park rangers) used to exist in Central Park but were presumably killed off by dogs decades ago.

Thankfully, all the domestic ducks and at least the few geese seen this morning were fine and healthy.

In fact, it seemed that Honker, (one of the two Khacki Campbell domestic ducks) dropped an egg.
But, while her mallard drake boyfriend, Harry appeared to ask, "Aren't you going to sit on it?" Honker just looked confused and walked away.

"What?  I don't know what that is!"

Apparently, the domestic ducks of Harlem Meer know nothing about nesting or sitting on and protecting eggs.

But, somewhere in Central Park, I suspect a raccoon might have been contemplating an easy breakfast this morning.  -- PCA


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