Look Up, Look Down, Look Out!

Piranga olivaceaCome down a little closer, Scarlet Tanager! The bright morning sun is making your tail shine. Piranga olivaceaUh, yeah, like that, Piranga olivacea, male of.Dolichonyx oryzivorusMeanwhile, in the grass, a male Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus). These are far more common in farm and prairie country than here in Brooklyn. I only saw my first a few years ago, on farm field in Massachusetts. This picture does not capture the golden straw color of the nape well.Troglodytes aedonWe were slowly walking behind a House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) darting into the invertebrate-nooks under the fence and thick pile of leaves. We must have followed for about 40 feet, when the bird suddenly flew off. There was a Rotweiller between us. pebblesThe dog was wet and friendly. We expected the scofflaw human companion to be behind her, but there was nobody. Was the dog lost? Hard to tell in Prospect Park, when 90% of dogs are off-leash in the Ravine in the morning.IMG_3192One of the existing signs. New ones are promised: they will be ineffectual unless the law is enforced. Anyway, Pebbles, as her collar identified her, followed us for a bit, then wandered off. My co-birder Peter said he was going to walk her up to the Long Meadow to see if some of the dog people knew her, but she was done with us and ran ahead. dummyEarlier, this poodle nipped between the boulders and fence at the Ambergill Falls to get into the Ravine itself. But then the animal couldn’t figure out how to get back on the path. The owner was blithely at the top of the Payne Hill before the dog’s panicky barks got his attention. “Dummy” he called the animal, better describing himself. His two friends both had their dogs leashed, an unusually high proportion. The dog meanwhile tore up and down the steep hillside in its anxiety, scattering dirt and leaves everywhere, one of the very slopes the Prospect Park Alliance spent millions shoring up. The squirrels, chipmunks, and all the birds, nobody’s fools, were, well out of the way. And as we birders have a reputation for being “mean” to assholes, we said nothing.

Note the title of this article from Monday’s Times“…Dog Owners and Bird Watchers Fight for Space.” That’s taking the notion of balance to an absurd place: the woodlands are off-limits to unleashed dogs, period; but the majority of dog walkers don’t police themselves, and the Alliance, the Parks Department PEP, and the NYPD have to be flogged to enforce the rules.

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4 Responses to “Look Up, Look Down, Look Out!”


  1. 1 elwnyc May 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

    For what it’s worth (not much), I saw a lot more dogs on-leash yesterday after the previous day’s article in the New York Times. Of course, there were still some off-leash.
    I read the article on-line. An advantage to that: I was able to read the comments from readers. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a large number of them were from dog owners who were supporting the leash law.

    • 2 mthew May 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

      The vast majority of dog owners are good sorts, for sure, with adorable hounds. Unfortunately, we see the worst in the Ravine and Lullwater.

  2. 3 elwnyc May 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

    And the size of the dog doesn’t matter. On my walk yesterday, I heard a lot of shrill yapping and looked to see a miniature poodle following a man and belligerently barking at his heels. The owners called in vain and finally came over and scooped up their pet. Not five minutes later, I heard the same shrill barking and saw the same miniature poodle pursuing a young woman. This time the owners reacted a little more quickly to pick up the dog and finally leash it.
    This was in the Nethermead around noon or 1:00, long after permitted hours.

    • 4 mthew May 8, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Having been domesticated for so long, dogs generally take very well to training, but many pet owners today don’t have time for that.


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