Sunday, October 22, 2017

Despite Unusually Warm October, Migratory Canada Geese on the Move

And, they're off!
Over Central Park and heading east towards Queens in order to avoid Manhattan skyscrapers.
The geese move at blistering pace making photography difficult.
Take-off from CP Reservoir.
Perfect "V" formation.
It's been a while since posting in this blog.

A painful and frustrating bout with Shingles, along with "frozen shoulder," (both) in my right and dominant arm (and hand) has rendered typing and other computer maneuvers difficult.

But that is not to say I haven't been to Central Park on regular basis to observe and photograph the geese.

First, to catch up on where this blog left off this past August:

As predicted, the two goose families who had raised their combined four goslings together at the CP Boat Lake did indeed depart just shortly before the fledglings turned 11-weeks-old (the magic number seemingly for new goose families to leave child-rearing locations). It's not clear where the two families went after departing the Boat Lake, but there have been a number of geese coming and going at Harlem Meer over the past several months and it's possible the families joined up with them. Or, like Hansel, Greta and their new offspring, it's possible the two families left Central Park entirely not to return again until next spring.

The CP Reservoir (and Boat Lake) have been relatively goose empty over the past two months except for the migratory Canada geese who are now passing through and briefly resting at the Reservoir before take-offs at sunrise in great numbers.

Despite an unusually warm October in NYC in which people are still walking around in T-shirts and shorts, Canada geese have kept exactly to their fall migration schedules without missing a cue.

I have often maintained that Canada geese have their own calendars and stick rigidly to them regardless of fluctuations in weather or other circumstances. This is true whether the time of year calls for mating, egg-laying, departing molting or gosling-rearing locations or migrations. When the sun is in certain place in the sky and the days long or short, the geese pick up and go. These are patterns set over millennia and little, if anything alters them.

This is not however, to say the geese aren't adaptable.

Canada geese are extremely reactive and adaptable to danger and safety issues in their environments.  One of the prime reasons for many geese electing to stay mostly in city and suburban environments (even in winters when natural food is scarce) is safety from hunters. Safety is apparently more important to them than even food availability.

Canada geese can in fact, survive weeks on little food due to them eating heartily and building up fat reserves during fair weather. But if a bullet gets them or a treasured family member, their lives are effectively over.

This may explain why so many geese actually and ultimately winter in places like New York City and Chicago. Yes, the going can be tough in winter, but most geese (and ducks) are actually able to survive.

The geese who ultimately winter in New York City have not arrived yet. They are usually the last geese to migrate (probably because they don't fly that far) and don't typically arrive to NYC until December.

But for now, thousands of migrating Canada geese are passing through NYC and where they ultimately fly to and end up, I cannot say.

I just know there is an invisible and well-traveled "highway in the sky" through which virtually all the geese move. They do so eagerly and with great enthusiasm. It's amazing to think that many of them are only five-months-old -- literally babies on the move!

Every morning, within an hour of the sun's rising, the geese take off from the Reservoir in skeins of seven to twenty-five and head east over the shorter buildings of Queens. (They know enough to avoid the Manhattan skyscrapers were they to head directly south.)

As casual observer to the wonders above me, I can only rejoice along with the honking geese and wish them God's speed and protection.

'Till we hopefully meet again next spring.  -- PCA