Friday, April 25, 2008

Goose Defeats Border Collie

Click image to watch this 1941 classic via Google Video.

So last week I encountered an immovable goose here, and vowed to return.

Yesterday, I did return
with Jane and our new friend Kim, along with Kim's border collie mix, Riley. Superior firepower to be sure. Or so I thought.

I anticipated that mother goose would hop right off that nest as soon as she caught sight of Riley. But quite to the contrary, she just laid low in her nest and stared him down. I had a sinking feeling, as I clamored down the embankment to fetch my pail of water, that we were not going to succeed.

Jane approached first with the umbrella, and then Riley was brought forward. But the goose stood her ground. I think Riley was more afraid of her, bless his gentle soul.

Ultimately, Jane succeeded in using her umbrella to create a paper-thin shield between mother and nest, just long enough for me to snatch one egg for testing. It bobbed and floated right to the surface, so I put it back and we retreated
humbled by one tough old bird. My hat's off to her. Especially as she was all alone in this encounter. Papa was nowhere to be seen.

But I guess that's what's so cool about nature, and in a sense encouraging for all the underdogs of the world. Sometimes the tortoise beats the hare.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What a Weekend: Over 300 Eggs Oiled!

Photos courtesy of Gregory Ulscht

GeesePeacers were out in force last weekend, oiling eggs all over Bergen County from Saddle Brook to Woodcliff Lake. My unofficial tally, based on reports from the field, is 343 eggs oiled between Friday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 22!

Over the Weekend in Ridgewood

In Ridgewood alone, volunteers oiled 46 eggs in 11 nests, including the nest on the roof of Somerville School. By my count, volunteers have oiled 73 eggs in 13 nests to date within Ridgewood's borders. See map
here. (Note: Some of the nests indicated on this map are in Paramus and other neighboring towns; these are
not included in the Ridgewood tally.)

Sunday Morning in Saddle Brook

On Sunday, April 20, Diana Perog and I teamed with Greg Ulscht and Naomi Gamorra, two volunteers from Waldwick and Glen Rock, to oil eggs at the Saddle Brook County Park/Pehle Area in Saddle Brook. See map here. Greg, who is an outdoor photography hobbyist, took the photos shown in this post. (See his Website here and link directly to his GeesePeace gallery here.) And Naomi is largely responsible for where we are today; she wrote the published essay about GeesePeace that caught Diana Wing's attention, resulting in Diana taking point in bringing GeesePeace to Ridgewood and throughout the region.

We met at 6:30 a.m. in the Pehle Area parking lot. Greg had already scoped out 8 nest locations along the east bank of the pond, and several nest locations on both sides of the Saddle River. Some of the nests along the pond were difficult to access, as they were well protected by vines and brush. But we got to them all, and for the most part the geese were easily coaxed off their nests.

The fun began when we reached the nests located on the river, three of which were built on islands. None of us had waders or even waterproof boots, and Greg and I were pretty much resigned to passing on the island nests. Diana and Naomi, on the other hand, were undeterred. Without the slightest hesitation, the two oilers walked right out into the water, shoes and all. Since Greg and I were the umbrellamen, we had no choice but to follow their lead. So we sort of looked at each other and agreed, "Looks like we're getting wet."

At the end of the morning, we tallied everything up: 56 eggs in 15 nests!

Tuesday Morning in Woodcliff Lake: Jane and Ray Hit the Jackpot!

Tuesday morning, I found this email message from Ray Cywinski in my inbox:
Jane Morales and I went out to the island in the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir (United Water New Jersey property) this morning. Here is a summary of our activities:
  • No. of Nests Treated: 49
  • No. of Eggs Oiled: 167
    Ray also noted that 20 eggs floated, and so were left untreated, and that they saw two geese protecting 7-10 goslings. But 167 eggs oiled in a single outing? WOW!

    I don't know the exact formula, but this is a fact: thanks to our efforts over this weekend alone, there will be a few thousand fewer geese in our area in eight years than there would have been absent the GeesePeace program. Congratulations and thank you all on a great job!

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    14 Nests in Ridgewood and Counting

    Click here to see known nests in Ridgewood as of today. Out of the 14 known nests, 9 have been treated with a total of 55 eggs! Know of any nests I don't have marked here? Let me know.

    Meanwhile, Jane is maintaining a map for Midland Park and other areas she is patrolling, from Van Saun Park up to Don Bosco! 10 active nests discovered so far, of which 9 have been treated with a total of 47 eggs. Check it out.

    Jane is out and about all over the place, as you can see, and can use some help. If you want to see some action, contact me and I'll put you in touch with her.

    I Shall Return

    Three of us went out yesterday to treat two nests on the Paramus side of the Saddle River, both in the Wild Duck Pond area that runs from the Ridgewood Duck Pond to Dunkerhook. In both cases ... denied!

    I've run into some protective geese before, but the tough old bird pictured at right was immovable. The nest location is across the river from mile marker 0.6 on the bike path, which is approximately at the terminus of McGuire Court in Ridgewood. Not even gentle yet forceful nudging by two determined umbrellamen could persuade her to leave. She simply folded in her wings and burrowed down low on the nest. After several attempts, we grudgingly accepted defeat and headed for the second nest about a mile downstream, behind Paramus Catholic.

    I noticed this second nest, pictured at left, earlier in the day while jogging down the bike path. It looked accessible enough from across the river, but when we arrived we found that the nest was very well protected by an escarpment and thorn bushes all around, with little or no room to maneuver. I plan to go back over the weekend with some pruning shears! I just hope after all that, she is more easily coaxed off her nest than the first one.

    After being denied for the second time, our staff photographer David Grant captured me, against my will, slinking back to my cara portrait of a man defeated. (Note: the gaping tear in my shorts leg was not inflicted by the geese!) As I pondered our failed attempts, my once unquestioned skills and abilities suddenly in doubt, I tried to think of a way to get that first goose off her nest. Then it hit me: visit her again with the superior firepower of a border collie. And so with my pride restored, having so clearly outsmarted a creature with a brain the size of chick pea, I vowed to return.

    So if any of you border collie owners would like
    to help persuade that goose off her nest, please contact me. To get to the nest, it's a half-mile walk through the woods each way.

    UPDATE: Jane has also reported an immovable goose, in Midland Park. So we could use some help from a border collie there as well.

    Monday, April 7, 2008

    Three Active Nests Found, 15 Eggs Oiled at Sewage Treatment Plant

    Sentinel keeping watch just above dam at Upper Ridgewood Tennis Club.

    Our intrepid oiler Ellie Gruber, working with Andy Lowry, reports success at the NBCUA plant with access to a boat to the Upper Ridgewood Island:

    Andy Lowry and Ellie Gruber had great success this a.m.; already there were three active nests, with a total of 15 eggs oiled, at the NBCUA (Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority, aka sewerage) plant in Waldwick. These nests are in plain sight, on top of rocks, and next to roadways. There is also one sentinel high up on a building on the property. The geese have been there for years, apparently. The director of the NBCUA was extremely helpful and his workers will keep an eye out and call us.

    There are at least 5 more nests to go, as the geese are pairing up and starting to build.

    Although not in Ridgewood, this plant has direct access to the island in the middle of the HoHoKus Brook (see photo of geese pairing on island above right), next to the Upper Ridgewood Tennis Club which had over 5 nests last year which we oiled before the big flood. We will go back in 10 days to see. The Utilities Authority has agreed to let us use their boat to get to the island. There are a couple of pairings on the island, and one nest built on a pile of sticks (see photo left) right next to the dam, too dangerous to go, as there will be no way to get her off the nest without us getting washed over the dam. I'm praying for a heavy rain to wash them away, however.

    Ellie G.

    Resident Geese Will Molt Migrate

    A new study conducted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and published in the February 2008 issue of Journal of Wildlife Management reveals that "resident" Canada geese that fail to produce offspring will molt migrate to Canada.

    The Michigan study, titled Movements and Survival of Molt Migrant Canada Geese in Southern Michigan, took place between 2000 and 2003. The authors destroyed the nests of 168 radiomarked females by removing eggs after day 14 of incubation, and left nests of 82 incubating hens undisturbed after capture and marking. Of females whose nests were experimentally destroyed, 80% subsequently migrated from breeding areas to James Bay and other areas of Canada.

    Nest destruction can induce molt migration, increase hunting mortality of geese returning from molting areas, and reduce human–goose conflicts, but managers also should consider potential impacts of increasing numbers of molt migrants on populations of subarctic nesting Canada geese.

    The GeesePeace protocol calls for oiling eggs as opposed to destroying nests, but the effect is the same: with no goslings to tether them to their breeding area, "resident" geese will migrate north. In addition to having fewer geese on our fields and in our parks during the Summer, the migrating geese will be exposed to hunting along migratory routes, which may reduce the number of geese returning in the fall.

    If you're interested in reading the study, download a copy here.

    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    New Ridgewood GeesePeace Web Site

    Looking for GeesePeace forms, documents, images or video?

    Visit the new online Ridgewood GeesePeace Resource Center.

    Ran out of Authorization Forms needed to oil eggs on private property? Need another copy of the GeesePeace Field Guide? Want to view the
    GeesePeace Training Video? Just click here to find and download whatever you need.