Djcnor’s Weblog

Goslings and Global Warming

Posted on: February 2, 2009

One of my favorite things about living where I live in England is how often I see waterbirds. I have watched the most amazing things happen.

One day, I was waiting for my bus at what used to be a horsewatering place at the bottom of the hill where I live. One one side, there was abrick wall higher than my head and covered with ivy. I noticed a duck walking back and forth at the bottom of the wall quacking loudly and wondered what it was about at first, but didn’t think anything more of it until  I heard some rustling in the ivy followed by a distinct plop at the bottom of the wall. I looked, and there at the bottom of the wall was a duckling. It sat there for a few moments, then picked itself up and walked on over to its mom. Then the plops started coming thick and fast. By now, mom was in the water, still quacking. Each duckling seemed a bit dazed by the fall, but basically intact. They’d pick themselves up, wander in circles until they figured out which direction mom was, wander on over and take another dive into the water. Mom and 12 ducklings floated off serenely.

Man, does nature make tough babies. I imagined this little story in my head. Mom gathers the ducklings together in the nest and says “Today we’re going to leave the nest and go for a swim. But first, you’re going to have to jump off a wall some 30 times your height.”

“Sure, mom!” say all 12 ducklings, and they do.

I mean, translate that to human terms. “We’re going to leave the apartment today, kids, but first you have to jump down the 40-floor elevator shaft.”

“Sure mom,” the human child says and immediately picks up the phone to call for help.

Now, that scene happened in May or June, late April at the earliest. Today, I saw something just as amazing.

You may have heard that we’re having snow and ices storms here right now. The worst in 18 years. They don’t really amount to much compared to an average New York winter. Just about 8 inches of snow in the worst places. But it’s plenty enough to disrupt Brit life, which doesn’t include snow tires and rapid efficient snow removal equipment.

Nature, however, would seem to be more robust. In my area, about four inches of snow had accumulated. I took a little walk out, and on my way back up the hill, I was amazed to see two adult Egyptian geese and their brand new crop of goslings taking a walk in the snow.

Being human, I wa very worried for the little goslings. As soon as I got home, I called the Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds to see if there was anything to be done. They assured me that the adult geese would take adequate care of the goslings, even in the snow. And sure enough, I was able to find a picture of an Egyptian goose with goslings in the snow on the web.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3256/2394361218_21d7d05b0a_o.jpg

But the RSPB also told me that February 2nd was extrememly early for Egyptians to turn up with a new brood of goslings. “Global warming, you know,” she said.

Global warming does not mean that everyplace gets a bit warmer. It does means that on average they will. And both extremes will get a little more extreme. Britain is predicted to end up colder as a result of global warming. And judging from the general chaos today (airports and roads closed, rail travel disrupted, etc.), human Brits are not that well prepared to deal with it.

I’ll be watching to see how the goslings do. It’s all very nice that the parents managed to hatch them, but was a forced march through snow sometimes up to their necks really a good idea for the goslings? Will the food they need be available enough in these early cold snowy days? And how soon can I expect to begin seeing baby mallards, and gray geese, and swans?

There’s a reason why a simple show like “Springwatch”, which chronicles the signs of spring as they emerge across the British countryside, is so popular. It is something I will miss if and when I return to the US.

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Djcnor’s Weblog

  • @KathrynGoldman Saw your blog post on famous people in fiction. Have character who is supposed to be dead, turns out not to be. OK? 9 months ago
  • I'm back! I haven't posted in a long time, but since Joanie Freeman and I won Charlottesville SOUP, I feel the need to return. 4 years ago
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  • RECALL LAMAR SMITH< PROPOSER OF SOPA< WHO HAS CALLED THE WEB BLACKOUT A PUBLICITY STUNT! PLEASE RT!!! 5 years ago
  • @The_Puck Same to you. You denial is damaging to yourself and all you care about, assuming there must be some of those. 5 years ago
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