Strange Magic: A Wall-walker, Canada Geese and a Water Rat
Sometimes strange magic exists alongside basic natural facts.
In Morningside Park, Canada geese, missing for weeks, have returned with a vengeance. A reader of this blog reported seeing four geese last Tuesday. A day or two later, there were six. Yesterday morning, I counted fourteen.
Most of the Morningside 14 hung out on the rim of the pond, like small-town teenagers, waiting for something to happen. Others rested after grazing.
Fourteen geese is a lot of geese for a small area.
If a few more geese join the crowd, the area around the pond may lose its allure for walkers like me.
The goose family that nested on Morningside Pond’s little island does not appear to have returned. While one Canada goose looks pretty much like any other, the Morningside family was easily recognized by the fact that two of its four juveniles had severe cases of “angel wing,” a wing deformity fairly common among park birds. My best guess is that the little family simply made its way on foot to the inviting and much larger ponds and fields of Central Park, just a couple of blocks away. (A supervisory biologist at USDA Wildlife Services has assured me that, despite the recent killing of hundreds of geese in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, no action has been taken, or is planned, for the geese of Central Park.)
If you ignore the mess they make, geese are lovely and amusing creatures. The Morningside 14 engaged in intense preening, punctuated by bouts of goose yoga in which a leg or wing was held outstretched and motionless for minutes at a time.
First a leg.
When we approached, the rat slipped silently into the water and vanished, reappearing, sleek and wet, a few feet down the shore.
Unlike the familiar skulking garbage-eaters of the streets, this rat seemed to be enjoying the bucolic life of a wild water-rat.
It disappeared again into the water. This time, it didn’t reappear.
I searched among the lilies for a tiny skiff or a picnic basket, but found nothing.
Another time, perhaps.
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