Archive Page 2

Come Walk With Me

whosewoodsI started this blog in 2010: here’s my very first post from March 3rd.

Five years! In the internet’s split-second, ahistorical frenzy, that must be like half-a-hundred in dog-years. To celebrate, I will be taking a walk in Prospect Park and Green-Wood on Sunday, March 1st. You, my faithful readers, are invited to come along with me.

Traditionally, the 5th wedding anniversary was celebrated with wood. That makes a walk in the woods a natural!

Where: Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park, in front of the Stranahan statue.
When: 11 a.m.
What: Bring binoculars if you have them. If not, don’t sweat it. There may be some to share.
Wha: RSVP if you like in the comments.

The forecast could be better. Snow is predicted by early evening. We’ll be done before then.
owlpelletsAn owl pellet per year… full of things rich and strange.

Midway or More

IMG_0012Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

IMG_0013Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
che nel pensier rinova la paura!

The Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelisA European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) was hanging around the feeders in Prospect Park yesterday, snacking at the thistle favored by American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). In the colder regions of their Old World range, the E.G. migrates to warmer climes. Here it is probably rather confused. This one is doubtlessly an escapee from some local cage. They show up every once and a while locally, via the pet trade and an open window. It may be legal to have such birds in captivity, but that doesn’t make it right.

Raptor Wednesday Outtakes

Falco columbarius I am of course pleased when I can present a fine photograph of a living creature, but this blog has never been about photography per se. I think of my photos as illustrative and educational tools. I’d like people to think they too could take such pictures, right outside their door or not too far away. No need to go to distant places — or depend on others to go for you or watch it on TV — for startling hits of nature itself.

Above is a Merlin at the extreme of my camera’s lens. Identification was made easy because the bird had been much closer earlier, perching on that raptor-favored tree above Terrace Bridge, and then harried from pillar to post by an ever-growing number of Blue Jays.Terrace BridgeThis is the other end of the lens. The Merlin is on the top right of the tree in the center distance here.Accipiter cooperiiHere’s another quick-moving raptor. I’d just bubbled out the Chip Shop on Atlantic Avenue and a swirling of pigeons over the intersection perked up my hawk-sense. (I really must be careful to not be bumped into by a pedestrian or run-over by a bicyclist or car on the sidewalk, wot?) A silhouette atop LICH caught my eye, but only through the lens could I get any sense of what it was. The talons are suggestive, the just visible bars on the tail, too. Another shot showed a bit of the russet breast. One of the local Cooper’s. westA phone picture. One day recently I heard a Crow cawing just before descending into the Bergen St. subway and then, when I emerged at the end of my trip underground/underwater at West 4th St., I heard another. I glanced around and up and saw a little falcon swoop over 6th Avenue. Three days earlier about two blocks to the north I’d also seen a little falcon overhead. Both days were these overcast winter gray days, meaning there wasn’t much more than a silhouette to see, but I feel pretty confident that the second instance was a Kestrel. Then I saw a Crow flying over Father Demo Square, but the cawing continued to come from elsewhere. All this, of course, with mid-day traffic howling up Sixth Ave. There it was, in the trees of the corner park at Bleecker & Downing. And it was yelling at a Red-tailed Hawk who perched below it. A Blue Jay further up added some vocal alert to the mix, but it’s hard to beat a Crow when it comes to the alarm department. Or all the people who didn’t seem to hear any of this as they walked by.

Winter Work

oneA bare patch in the snow finds Starlings, Robin, and White-thoated Sparrow rooting in the leaf litter. Snow cover definitely makes it harder to find seeds and invertebrates.Zonotrichia albicollisHere’s one of the White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis). This species comes in two forms: this is the white-striped, with the strong white stripe along the forehead. Zonotrichia albicollisThis is the tan-striped. This particularly bird flew here:fiveYou can see its footprints leading into this temporary cave created by the snow-bent grasses. I didn’t see the bird emerge the minute or so I watched.

Turdus migratoriusSnowy feet, muddy beak.

The Bear and Me

I wrote this essay for Humans and Nature on the resonances of William Faulkner’s “The Bear” right here in Brooklyn, a long way and a long time since the “big woods” of the south. But there are actual remnants of those lost big woods just down the street from where I live, which got me thinking. I believe readers of B & B will be intrigued by my thoughts over at H & N.


Passerella iliacaA couple of Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca) were out from under the usual undergrowth they like to kick up in. The species visits us in winter, but not in great numbers. Their russet red plumage is a nice contrast to other sparrow species, and quite tell-tale.
Passerella iliacaThis was an overcast day, and you really want the sun hitting them for the best photos. Open up the pictures for bigger view and see the snow around their bills.


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