Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter, 2016 and the Living is Easy (for the Geese and Ducks)


Winter time and the living is easy.
A coot looking wistfully over the water.
Geese and ducks as far as the eye can see.
Last year at this time, the geese and ducks were hunkered down on solid ice.
Compared to the last two years, the migratory geese and ducks wintering at the Central Park Reservoir have had a cake walk this year.
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Sure, we had a 27-inch snow blizzard and a day when the temperature plunged to below zero. But, both events were short lived and quickly followed by rapid temperature warm ups. The same is true of the Reservoir icing over which has only occurred two days out of the entire winter, so far. Last year, it was iced over during all of February and part of March.
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It is likely due to such mild conditions that we have had a significantly larger number of wintering geese this year (more than 200), in addition to a variety of ducks and even a small group of coots!
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The birds have had few serious challenges to contend with. Such is easily observable in their more relaxed behavior and higher activity levels. (Last year, they were mostly "hunkered down" for nearly two months.)
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Most significantly, we have so far, lost no waterbirds this year, compared to nearly a dozen who starved to death last year on the ice.
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For humans too, this winter has been infinitely more pleasant. -- For one matter, not having to gingerly navigate slippery ice that covered the running path last year for almost two months.  
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All of this raises the question of when the current geese will actually leave the Reservoir to migrate back to where they came from? 
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I suspect the geese who winter at the Reservoir are not actually from Canada or the sub arctic, but places closer; perhaps neighboring states. Since they don't usually arrive until late December or early January, it is thought they come to New York City when local ponds or lakes freeze over. As such, they are also the first geese to leave and migrate back. (The true "migratory" geese from Canada and the sub-arctic are among the last to migrate in spring -- usually in mid to late March.)
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It is recalled that in prior warm winters, geese who wintered at the Reservoir sometimes left as early as late February. (Last year, they didn't leave until mid March.)
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In essence, everyday I still see the geese now is a small relief as it's always a little sad and lonely when they leave and the Reservoir is eerily still -- or at least until the later migrators arrive and depart.
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As said to another park observer last night, "Enjoy the geese while they are still here. Since these are migratory birds, they will likely leave within the next couple of weeks and things will then seem dull and empty."  -- PCA
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5 comments:

Ratty said...

I like seeing geese, even if it's only in pictures. A few years ago before I moved there was a nature park I visited every day where there were geese every day even in the winter. There are so many geese around the Detroit area that many people there consider them to be pests, but I never did.

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