Friday, May 16, 2014

All Central Park Geese Touched by Death


Mary, depressed and standing few feet away from failed nesting site the other night.
John and Mary last night on rocks together, few feet away from nest.
What appeared to be egg floating on top of water at Reservoir..
Napoleon and Josephine at Harlem Meer after unvilable eggs failed to hatch. Note garbage in water....newspaper and plastic toy.
Napoleon and Josie --They console each other in loss.
The lucky Canada geese this spring in Central Park were the Boat Lake pair whose nest and eggs were flooded in the severe rain storm a few weeks ago. The hen didn't spend a month on her nest and the geese knew why their eggs were lost.
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Not so "lucky" for the Reservoir nesting geese and Napoleon and Josephine at Harlem Meer.
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Two nesting hens recently and suddenly died at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir one week after laying their eggs. (There are suspicions about this, but to be addressed in a future entry.)
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One of the surviving ganders, "Brad" was fortunate to find a loner female goose (Gabrielle") several days later and take the thin, smallish waif under his wing.  The two geese have since departed the otherwise morbid Reservoir together.  
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The other surviving gander, "Bozie" still swims the east side of  Reservoir today as a "loner" goose seemingly still searching his lost mate, Floozie.  For two days, Bozi held a seeming vigil at his and Floozie's former nesting site and still returns there from time to time.
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John and Mary, the nesting goose pair from the west side of Reservoir did everything right this spring in terms of preparation, patience and guarding for nesting.  Eggs were due to hatch this week.
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Instead, I found Mary the other night standing about ten feet from her nest with no sign of the eggs inside.  Her head was turned on her back and she appeared visibly depressed.  John was a few feet away in the water seemingly giving his lady some alone time.
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Since the nest was covered in soft down, I tried to rationalize that perhaps Mary had covered her eggs and was simply taking a break.  But, a part of me knew better.
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Last night, I returned to find Mary and John together on rocks, a short distance away from what was their nest.  No sign of the four eggs that had been there only two days before.
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But, what appeared to be a white egg was visible floating on top of the water.
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It is theorized that since goslings "communicate" with their mothers with tiny peeps shortly before hatching (and the moms with them), there was no sign of life in these eggs and Mary was reluctantly forced to abandon them. 
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John and Mary have, after all, been through this experience before. Last year around the same time and same place.
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Their eggs had apparently been oiled in both years rendering them unviable.
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But, unlike the goose pair at the Boat Lake losing their eggs to a storm, John and Mary had no idea why their eggs failed to hatch two years in a row.  They appeared to be pondering those thoughts last night together, while at the same time, holding a type of "vigil" just a few feet from the failed and then flattened nest, all the eggs then gone.
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As Napoleon and Josephine (from Harlem Meer) had laid eggs around the same time as John and Mary, it was imperative to return to the Meer in order to check on them.
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But, I did not have a "good feeling' walking to the Meer after observing what had once again happened to John and Mary at the Reservoir.  It was more than likely that Napoleon and Josie's eggs had also been addled and destroyed.  But, this was something that needed to be confirmed. 
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Sure enough, when arriving to the Meer, Napoleon was not at his usual "guarding" post just a few feet in the water from the small island where Josie had been safely nesting.
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That meant only one of two things:  Either the eggs hatched and the two geese were somewhere on the lake with their little ones.
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Or, it meant that the eggs failed to hatch (as in the previous year) and both, Napoleon and Josie were forced to once again, abandon the failed nest -- along with all hope of raising young this year -- or perhaps ever. 
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It doesn't require a Mensa IQ to figure which of those two scenarios I believed.
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I did not have to walk far to find Napoleon and Josephine.
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But, what shocked was their utter stillness on the water -- like statues.
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The two geese faced each other, with no movement at all, as if in a kind of silent prayer vigil or mutual commiseration.
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I had never seen Napoleon and Josie like that before; animation and energy always being the hallmark of these two very "dominant" geese.
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Somehow, perhaps out of the corner of their eyes, the geese eventually saw me standing and commiserating with them from the shore.
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And slowly -- either to share sorrow or attempt to greet and comfort, Napoleon and Josie swam over to me.
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Though I tossed a few small offerings of cracked corn to them, it wasn't food the geese had come for --  though they obliged by eating a few kernels. (Food is plentiful these days for the birds with new grass and abundance of fresh water plants.)
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Rather, it was to seemingly assure me that though they were in mourning now, Napoleon and Josephine would (as the troopers they are), get through it and eventually move on.
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And yes, I expect as sorrow and loss move to resolve and preparation for the summer molt, Napoleon and Josephine will move on from Harlem Meer in about a week's time (as they did last year).
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There is nothing for these two geese at the Meer now. The constant fishing occurring all around the lake and virtually every day of the spring and summer can do nothing but add to their stresses.  Add to that, the constant harassment of Geese Police and a variety of off-leash dogs and the Meer is an inhospitable place for waterfowl of all types.  
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There are virtually no water birds at Harlem Meer these days with the exception of a hand full of apparently very brazen mallards.
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So stressful a place is the Meer for water birds in spring and summer, that the four domestic (flightless) ducks there last year, virtually spent the entire time "marooned" on the small grassy (and fenced in, safe) area by the Dana Center.
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But, such would not be an option for geese.
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Napoleon and Josephine will shortly have to depart and that will leave Harlem Meer (as last year at same time) with no geese at all.
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And it will leave me with no reason to go to the Meer, as we rescued the four domestic ducks shortly before winter set in last year, icing over the entire lake. (Ideally, we should have rescued and placed the flightless "fab four" last spring and thus spared them the misery of spending four months hiding in a corner near the Dana Center.) 
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Walking home from the Meer last night, I thought about all the lies, misinformation and attempts to avoid any transparency or responsibility regarding destructive, "zero tolerance"  policies towards Canada geese (and other wildlife) by Central Park officials and spokespersons. (More about that in a later entry.)
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And I thought about the roughly 15 geese still surviving in this 838 acre "jewel" park.
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It occurred to me that all 15 geese have been touched by death, one way or another this spring, most of it at the hands of human tormentors.
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It is claimed by bible thumpers and others that humans are made "in the image of God."
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If that be the case, it is not a "God" I want to know as I feel little apart from shame for my own species.  -- PCA
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1 comment:

Mary Castrovilla said...

Oh, Patty,

Another profound loss for you, and 'your" geese. I'm so, so sorry.

Yep, we may have been made in the image of God, but human beings - with free will, have really screwed up things. Egg addling is just the tip of the iceberg done by consciousness people...but karma is a bith