Tuesday, March 29, 2011
As a novice bird watcher, I was totally thrilled to see 4 egrets standing on a log together. Pretty sure they're egrets. By the time I got my camera on, one made a break for it - you can see him/her swimming to the right in one picture, and a bit further to the right, framed by two trees, in the other.
Some more feedback on "Hands Around the Lake." There have been some comments to an article about the event that appeared in the Brooklyn Paper. One in particular was quite critical - that the event was poorly attended, that the organizations were only involved to make money, and that there were better tactics to take. Brooklyn Paper said there were only 130 people. I think there were more like 200, and I did an informal count. Not everyone was scrunched together in one bunch.
Back in the day, I was pretty active in the protest world. Like a lot of other baby boomers, it kind of slowed down over the years, as I got involved with work, having a family, etc., etc. Lately, however with a little more time and a lot more negative things going on, I've been getting back into it, and remembering some of the earlier lessons I've learned. First, movements never start big. They start small, the word gets out, and hopefully they grow. I had put some of the "Hands" photos on my Facebook page, and got some friends asking, "What is this thing about the geese?" The word is spreading. Yeah, immediate gratification is always a thrill, but in the real world, things take time.
And as I recall, a lot of movements fell apart because of so much disagreement among the participants about how to attack the problem, who the "enemy" was, etc. this is one of the reasons I was so happy with the "Hands" event. There were representatives of very different groups, with a variety of interests, but all coming together with a common goal - keeping the Park a welcoming environment for wildlife.
One more thought: the fact that there are negative comments in the Brooklyn Paper is less important than the fact that the article was there at all. That old "there's no such thing as bad publicity" idea. For example, We went to Seneca Falls last summer, to the Women's History Museum. These women, these early suffragettes, were insulted, laughed at, made fun of, treated horribly in the press and the view of the general public. One of them (and I'm sorry I don't remember which one) was asked how she felt about it. She said it didn't bother her, because it meant that people were talking about the issue, and that was what mattered. What a great attitude!!
To PAC: Yes, the tagged geese were reported - it's how I knew that they were actually from Canada. I don't know about the tightness of the tags, but am including photos of the bent neck. Does it look OK?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Candleman is completely cleaning up after himself and his ceremony (which I assume it is)! Instead of a trash pile, his little corner is now a charming outdoor alter, and I certainly hopes that it accomplishes what he wants and needs it to do.
Nice spotting of the egret mating pair, although the picture is a little fuzzy because of the zooming. I'm working on it.
And some more pictures of participants from yesterday's "Hands Around the Lake."
Saturday, March 26, 2011
It looked to be a pretty good crowd, maybe 200, to support the geese and oppose the Mayor's gassing of them. Dog owners and bird lovers and lots of children. State Senator Eric Adams was there, as was Councilwoman Letitia James. Also on the premises, Goose NA03, one of the two tagged geese that have recently arrived from Canada. Clearly concerned with the possible genocide against him/her, NA03 seemed very interested in the proceedings. Lots of dogs and their owners from FIDO. It was wonderful to see so many groups there. It's a shame Anne and Ed weren't there. They would have loved to see so many different groups, who sometimes disagree with each other, all out in the cold (but sunny) weather to support wildlife in NYC.
There was also Verite, a vegan caterer with yummy snacks. A woman against horse abuse, who wants the horse carriages replaced with vintage hybrid cars. Don't know if I agree, since I love the horses and love seeing them in the city. I know that they are not treated well. Told the young lady this. She didn't get angry or didactic, just gave me a flier, suggested I check out the website, and said that maybe I'd change my mind. So civilized!!! Love it!! And the swans came around. Papa was a little cranky, chasing off his children. People were very curious about the swans, and I had a fine time doing a little teaching about the swans, how to tell the cygnets from the adults, how protective the Papas are, etc.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
"Brooklynites care so passionately about Prospect Park and its natural environment and many were truly disturbed by the USDA’s actions to cull approximately 400 Canada geese in Prospect Park in the summer of 2010. In response, Prospect Park formed a Wildlife Management Advisory Committee (the Committee), consisting of professionals involved with animal welfare, education, science and urban park management. The Committee was tasked with an initial goal to recommend a Canada Goose Management Plan for Prospect Park that is scientifically sound, humane, practical, and transparent to the community. This plan would help maintain the goose population at acceptable levels to facilitate cleaner shorelines and water, as well as support a diverse array of waterfowl within Prospect Park’s 585 acres. This management policy could serve as an example to others for the control of the Canada Goose population. It is understood, however, that the Mayor and the City of New York have the authority to give the USDA permission to employ Canada Geese mitigation measures as they see necessary.
The Committee reviewed a wide variety of potential management actions to control Canada geese in Prospect Park. Only actions selected by the Committee as appropriate for use in Prospect Park are included below. The criteria used to evaluate the various management actions were, scientific merit, humane practice, and practicality for the Park to undertake.
1. Designation of Prospect Park as a “no-feed” zone in city statutes and literature
Geese will linger in large numbers where they are being fed regularly. Feeding geese
contributes to overpopulation both in Prospect Park Lake and in the entire region.
Additionally, many of the things humans feed geese, especially bread, are actually
harmful to them and the lake environment. The Park will work with the New York City
Department of Parks and Recreation to get the Park designated as a “no-feed zone”. This
designation will require a significant amount of public education, enforcement and
outreach to change behavior.
2. Egg oiling
This method involves going to nesting sites early in the nesting season and rendering the
eggs unviable by coating them with oil. All necessary DEC permits would be obtained
and Humane Society guidelines and training would be followed to ensure eggs were in
the early stages of development. This practice could significantly reduce the number of
goslings produced in the Park annually.
3. Border Collie Patrol
This proposal involves utilizing trained dogs and professional trainers, mostly on board a
boat, to discourage geese from remaining in the Park after breeding season and before
they molt. This method has been used successfully in other urban park areas. The timing
and context of this action are both very important. It must take place in May and June,
and it must follow a successful egg addling season since geese with young are less likely
to leave the breeding grounds. This will depend on the cost and equipment availability.
Prospect Park Wildlife Management Advisory Committee
Canada Goose Management Plan 2
4. Habitat Modification
Geese prefer large swaths of grass and open areas with access to the shoreline. Shrubs or
tall grasses impede vision and physical passage to and from water, and can potentially
hide predators. Geese will tend to avoid areas planted in this manner. As Prospect Park
continues to restore its waterways, care will be taken to try to reduce habitat for Canada
Geese while enhancing habitat for other relatively rare species of migratory waterbird
such as Pied-Billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps). The Park’s desire to enhance and
protect our natural systems is a top priority.
Accurate population numbers for Canada Geese in Prospect Park are currently
unavailable. The Park, with help from some members of the committee, aims to begin a
more comprehensive population assessment in the Park. Things to look at include
“migrant” versus “resident” populations, seasonal fluctuations, and breeding birds. The
Committee also hope to gain better knowledge of the impact of large goose populations
on water quality and on quality of habitat for other aquatic organisms. Finally, the
Committee would want to be able to assess the effectiveness of our various goose
management actions by ongoing monitoring.
Many of the management actions mentioned above can and should have an education and/or community involvement aspect. Prospect Park would like to work with various community members such as the Humane Society, the Brooklyn Bird Club, and Audubon as well as educational institutions to bring the community further into this process. A training program for this education will be developed and implemented by the Spring of 2011.
Prospect Park Wildlife Management Advisory Committee – Members
– Audubon New York
– Brooklyn Bird Club
– Brooklyn College
– Geese Peace
– Humane Society of the United States
– Prospect Park and Prospect Park Alliance
– Prospect Park Community Committee
– New York City Audubon
– New York City Council Member Brad Lander
– New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, including the Department’s Urban
Park Rangers and Natural Resources Group
– New York State Department of Environmental Conservation"
My comments: 1) Note that this plan still allows our anti-wildlife mayor to bring in the Feds to gas the geese.
2). There is already a lot less feeding of the wildlife, thanks to the signs and awareness and, as a result, many fewer geese than there were last year. Let's see if the numbers hold up.
3) Re: egg oiling. I am concerned that the oilers might not be able to discriminate between geese eggs and swan and duck eggs, which we like and want to encourage. How can we ensure that only geese eggs are oiled?
4) As the owner of a part border collie, I LOVE the idea of a Border Collie Patrol. I hereby volunteer JJ to be a part of this effort.
5) And the ultimate question - will anything happen to make sure that this plan is actually implemented? What is the next step? As the saying goes, Inquiring minds want to know.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I'm not sure if I'm the last to know or just another link in the chain, BUT one of the cygnets had a run-in with a fishhook. A couple of days ago, a man named John noticed one of the cygnets was in trouble, with something wrapped around his beak. He posted it in the Brooklynian (a blog), called the Parks Dept., and notified Mary Beth from FIDO. Mary Beth contacted the Parks Dept. They went and examined the cygnet. Apparently the cygnet had tried to eat a worm which was, unfortunately, attached to a fishhook, and it caught around his beak. The Parks Dept. freed the beak. Ed and Anne (who is a licensed animal rehabilitator) read about this and went to see if they could help. They got hold of the cygnet and examined it. His beak has a crack in it. Hopefully it will heal. When we went to the Park this morning, he was curled up all by himself, not head up and swimming like his siblings (top picture). We were very concerned. The good news: when we left the park 1 1/2 hours later his head was up and he was swimming with his siblings! (bottom picture) It's a good sign, but reminds us of how dangerous fishhooks are. FISHERPEOPLE: CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES!!!!!
More bad news for animals in the park: a woman was attacked by two Rottweilers yesterday morning. It was during off-leash hours, but not in the off-leash areas. It is so important that we dog owners strictly abide by the off-leash rules, or we might lose them. That would be tragic both for our dogs and ourselves. I know how tempting it can be, especially after a long winter when it seemed like we had the park completely to ourselves in the mornings, but Spring is here, there are more and more people out there, and if dogs are seen as dangerous nuisances, we will lose this magical gift of off-leash play.
Pro-animals: this Saturday, March 26,12:00 noon, there will be a Hands Around the Lake demonstration to support wildlife in the park. Meet up at the Peninsula (Southwest corner of the Park, just north of the part of the lake that is nearest to the Vanderbilt Playground. By the Wellhouse, just southeast of Lookout Hill. Is that sufficient directions? I hope so.
Also pro-animals: Here's a photo of the lovely bird feeders, protected from squirrels, that we spotted. The feeders seem empty now - may because no one's filled them recently, maybe because the winter feeding season is over. Anyway, I love that they have their spot.
One final note: I have heard that there have been some comments here that have not appeared. Here's how to do it: Click "comment." Write the comment in the box. Comment as "anonymous." Press "Post Comment." You will see a box with some squiggly letters. Copy them as directed. This is to make sure you are a human being, not a machine. Then press submit. There may be a further procedure to sign in with a name, but since our computers know who we are now, we can't access that. When I get to someone else's computer, I'll check it out and see what you have to do.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Meanwhile, the rain is wonderful, since I just planted my front lawn - not in grass, but in a periwinkle ground cover and some yellow azaleas. Should look very sprightly if/when it takes. I tried this last year, but the drought killed everything. So I did a better job this year - dug deeper, added peat moss for water retention, and am hopeful.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
JJ loved the new route. Lots and lots of new places to sniff at. And a fantastic collection of squirrel bird-feeders, hitherto unseen (by us). No pictures - camera battery died. No egrets sighted today, but the whole swan family, in 3 parts - parents, son, and "the girls." Although maybe I am totally wrong about the gender thing. Sigh.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Very exciting! Candleman has very nicely cleaned up all the old cans and candles. There's one new one in a slightly different spot, closer to the water and further away from the path. I took a picture of the cleaned area, and replaced my request, along with a thank you note, in the new spot. B and N think he may be lighting the candles to speak to his ancestors, and wonder if he might think my notes are from his ancestors. Hmmm. Maybe Grandma IS speaking through me. How do I know where I get these ideas from. We imagine he has gone home and is furiously cleaning up his apartment. Can't hurt.
Lots of trash on the way up to Lookout Hill today - a result of St. Patrick's Day, I'm thinking. Picked up 3 bags full. Many beer cans and bottles, including one that was unopened. I thought we might take it home for someone, but was outvoted. Apparently Keystone Light is not considered a very good beer. N: "Any beer that comes in a 24 oz. can is not a good beer." So glad to have these experts to enlighten me. By the way, it's now in the trash can at the top of the hill, if anyone is really desperate. 5 crack bags, one of them GREEN!! For St. Pat's, I guess.
Beautiful dog day at the Nethermead. I'm trying to get some good photos, but have not had much success. I will keep at it. After all, I eventually did get photos of the flying birds, the swans posing in their heart-shape, and many other things I thought I'd never get. There was a quadruple-butt-sniff shot that I was laughing to hard at to take, and some great mid-air wrestling.
Saw Anne and Ed, who showed us the spot where the Parks Dept. bulldozed down the twig house that some homeless people at made. There's still a pile of bedding there. A gorgeous spot, I must say, sheltered by a large downed tree and overlooking both the lake and the Lullwater. I wouldn't object to them being there, but they were using buckets as toilets and dumping the contents into the lake. Yuck!
We found the perfect spot for a dog run in the Parade Grounds. Right across from the Tennis Courts, there's a part of the field that is natural grass, already about 80% fenced, and has a fire hydrant!! What could be more perfect!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
There's also talk of a dog run, available 24/7. I assume this will be in addition to the off-leash hours, not instead of. Bad news: one of the suggested areas is the top of Lookout Hill. NO NO NO!!! It's a people area, quite and lovely and scenic. And a primo place for the serious runners to get their workout. They would not be happy to be barked at by going past a dog run. Maybe I should stop doing the crack bag count. Maybe it gives the wrong impression of Lookout Hill? I adore dogs, but that is NOT the place for a dog run. Maybe the western side of the Nethermead, at the bottom of Lookout Hill.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Three adults and two dogs to the park this morning. We got there early, before 8, and it was amazingly quiet. Only a couple of other dogs at the Nethermead, maybe because it's Monday, maybe because the clocks went forward this weekend, and people are adjusting. B and I did our usual circling the Nethermead, with JJ running back and forth between us. So silent and meditative and restorative, and all those other good things. N and Chewie played with the two sheepdogs who were there. They were amazing - one tiny Australian Terrier and two huge sheepdogs, all bounding and jumping on each other and having a great time. In another 1/2 hour the other 40+ dogs arrived, plus a police helicopter overhead and two large Parks trucks drove along. Still, it was nice to have the moment.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
So, I've been blogging a whole year, and this is the start of year 2. I can't help but wonder if this will be a repeat of last year's observations. So far, absolutely not. A year ago, the Lake was just thawed, there were 10 swans, with a lot of people feeding them. Trash was everywhere, including dead, headless chickens and other disgusting things. Now, we have 6 swans, all in one family, and we know exactly who they are. The lake's been clear for a while, and no one is feeding them.
spring is really here. I have to say that B and I were very snarky on Groundhog Day, when Staten Island Chuck came out of his hole during an overcast rainy day and didn't see his shadow and didn't bite the mayor. But it looks like Chuck was right!
Two egrets today! One larger, one smaller. The big one was spreading his wings and showing his stuff to all the ducks and the second egret- mating behavior? Also, very loud bird noises on the way to the park, with two grey birds circling and circling each other - more mating behavior.
I started my trash collection again today, going up Lookout Hill. Only 3 crack bags, but a bunch of cans, bottles, mittens, cardboard. And we saw another person with a trash collection bag at the top of the hill! Lovely to see. And we ran into (not literally) my yoga instructor jogging over the hill. Oh well, he's young and far more energetic than us.
I think JJ managed to find the only bit of snow left in the park - in a shady spot near the Nethermead. We came back along the Lullwater - water completely melted. And there was some wood that yesterday's artiste left to dry. Very artistically arranged, I must say. Can you see the head on one of the pieces of wood? I did.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
TWO tires in the Parade Grounds today, but over in one of the fields, not in the middle of the place. B thinks someone might be collecting them for football practice. He's seen pictures of football players practicing by leaping down a row of tires. Well, that would be a nice, useful way to recycle trash. Will update as it happens (or not).
Speaking of love: egret and duck are friends! They were hanging out on a log in the lake today, just enjoying the scenery. I thought of Owen and Mzee, the real life hippopotamus and turtle who became a very unusual pair of friends (check out the book if you don't know about it). So I wonder if the egret and the duck will really be friends, or are just sharing a convenient spot for the day. Will update.
We met a wood artiste along the Lullwater today, checking out various beautiful pieces of old trees that line the pathway. Talked with him a bit, as he pointed out the beautiful lines of the grains of the wood that revealed themselves as the downed wood aged. Such beautiful curves and lines! Amazing how many times we walk through that area, and have never stopped to see that beauty. I know that I've stopped to make those observations when we've been hiking in the Wilderness are of the Adirondacks, but not so much in Prospect Park. Note to self: must be more aware of the macrocosm in the microcosm.
Cygnets grooming themselves for a long time this morning. I got right next to them, and they were to busy to be disturbed. Chewy, however, was very disturbed and wouldn't get close. And speaking of swans, we saw Tony, who told us what really happened to the Lone Swan (aka Grandpa), last seen in the fall, on the grass, eating everything within reach. A woman named Mary Beth, a FIDO stalwart, also saw him, and saw him being attacked by some kids throwing sticks and stones at him. She went close enough to pick up the swan. VERY unusual, and a sign of ill health. She took him to a local vet, who said that Lone Swan had diseased feet and was not in good shape. The good news: Lone Swan recovered, and is now living at a Wildlife Refuge Center, and not dead as we thought. Can't believe how happy I felt hearing this news. It takes a lot of goodhearted people to care for wildlife in a city park, and I'm glad they're all out there doing it.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Still no change in Candleman's corner, and I'm trying to decide how long I can just leave it to see if there's any change. At least a week, I guess. I did start picking up some other trash, mostly on the way up to Lookout Hill. Someone left a bag of bottles hanging on a fence about 6 INCHES away from a trash can! I can understand you're too damn lazy to pick up your damn trash because there's no trash can nearby, but to carefully pick it up and bring it mere inches away? Is it me or is there no logic or reason left in today's world? As a recently retired teacher, I do blame our education system, which has forced teachers to do nothing but round-the-clock test prep for the last 8 years at least. No substance, no rational thinking, just test prep tips and tricks. It's no wonder students graduate knowing nothing!
And what can explain the large truck tire abandoned in the Parade Grounds? How did it get there? And why? Could no one think of a useful purpose? A nice sand box for the playground? A gorgeous tire swing hanging from one of the fine large trees in the area? Cutting it up to make nice thick rubber soles?
Other than that, it was a chill but bright and sunny day, with 50+ dogs in the Nethermead, and no crack bags on Lookout Hill.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Candle Man (and yes, I'm assuming it's a man) has not cleaned up the mess or responded to my note, but it's possible that he hasn't been by lately. There are the same number of cans/candles/tin foils. they seem to have been moved, but we've had a few days of heavy wind and rain that could have done that. Will keep monitoring.
The lake water level is quite high, and most of the ice is gone. Note picture of one hard-core (pun intended) corner of the lake. The Lullwater still has a lot of ice, but the boathouse pond is quite clear.
Got a fairly nice shot of the egret, and of two cygnets posing in their heart position. I'm working on trying to take clearer pictures of the extreme zoom shots. It's not quite as easy to hold my hands very still. We saw an eagle flying overhead. Beautiful, but as yet unphotographable.
There are still a few patches of snow left on the Nethermead, and a bunch of very happy dogs playing in a large puddle created by the melting snow. We were 3 adults and 2 dogs today. When we got to the Nethermead, B and I split up for our usual circular walk around the edge. N went into the middle with Chewy, who is more sociable and likes to play with the other little dogs. Poor JJ was very confused with this 3-way split! But she eventually did her running back and forth, desperately trying to gather her unruly herd.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Animal heaven at the Nethermead today! Chewy and JJ and Loo and Nickleby and Mr. Cooper and dozens of others, leaping and running and enjoying the perfectly crisp morning. A pleasure to be surrounded by so much joy!
Went by way of Lookout Hill - 4 crack bags, 3 of them in one spot. I guess the crack in the park season is also starting. I realized that it was almost one year ago that I started this blog - March 10, 2010, to be exact, and next week will be my first blogiversary!! So, we have seen the cycle of a year in Prospect Park. I'm wondering if this next year's cycle will be much different.
The lake is pretty clear, with only a few ice spots left. Much earlier thaw than last year, but it may refreeze. You never know. We saw lots of ducks, not so many geese. One of the tagged geese, H974, was hanging out by himself near the rustic shelter in the SE corner. The phragmites are still in winter hibernation - no sign of spring growth yet. Really looking beautiful.
The "burning the candle in the can" person has been at it again. Frequently, it looks like. I hadn't been checking in that spot, but have started to do so again. I decided to leave the person a note, asking that he/she clean up. We'll see if it has any positive effect. I certainly hope so.