I wonder who it was who painted the first portrait with that little bit of white in the eyes signifying reflection? You can wander a museum for hours fixated on these daubs of paint, geometries suggestive of where the subject posed — rectangular for natural light through a window, for instance — which suddenly give so much depth and life to the image. A portrait is dead without them.
Archive Page 2
Tags: birding, birds, Brooklyn, Red Hook
My closest-ever encounter with a Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata). In the calm waters of Erie Basin in Red Hook. The bird’s upturned bill and smaller size helps to distinguish this species from the Common Loon (G. immer), which in roiling winter waters at silhouette distance is still a challenge. The “red-throat” is part of breeding plumage, so it’s too soon for that, and something we aren’t likely to see in these parts since they breed in the high Arctic.
I love the way the water played with the bird’s reflection. After sailing by, the bird dove underwater… and disappeared.
On a young Baldcypress in a still-industrial stretch of Plymouth Street: several of these bag worm cocoons. These are the egg cases of a Psychidae family moth. From a distance they look like cones or some other part of the tree itself. Small twigs are glued onto the surprisingly, or, actually, not so surprisingly, tough cocoon silk. These are, after all, supposed to survive winter, predators, and enraged arborists.
Tags: birding, birds, Croton Point, owls
Croton Point Park: as the train pulled in, not a single Bald Eagle was visible in the trees fronting the bay. Uh-oh. I’d promised eagles to the folks I’d dragged up to celebrate my birthday. The absence of ice seemed to be telling; the birds were heading back upriver. When I was there at the beginning of the month, the river was largely iced-in. Now it was running free, with just a few sheets trapped in the north bay.
There was plenty of snow on the ground, and the paths were quite gooey with mud. The first big birds we saw were Red-tailed Hawks, a pair doing some aerial-bonding, with they claws outstretched; then suddenly there were five hawks up there. It wasn’t long before we saw our first eagle, at some distance, over the river. Things were looking up. Then two Black Vultures sailed overhead, birds I haven’t seen since last summer, their white primaries beautifully bright, and a Turkey Vulture, not seen since the fall — were these birds already starting to migrate northwards?
Then a mature Bald Eagle went right over us, low enough for us to see those enormous yellow talons with our unaided eyes. A little later, I spotted this huge shape in a pine.Possibly the bird we’d just seen fly over us towards this direction. This bird was still there on our way back from the point. My party was, I think, pleased.But speaking of owls, the Flatbush Gardener, freelancing in the same park before teaming up with us, reported an Eastern Screech Owl at the opposite end of numerous telephoto lenses. Several hours later, we got to the location, to be told by the Ranger that the owl (and the photographers) had left. In the Nature Center, there were some “clay babies” to console us and, overhead, some compensation with a Red-tail and a Peregrine. I, meanwhile, enjoying Jean’s romesco dip on pita bread, was convinced the owl had only moved, not departed, not in the middle of the day, anyway. But it was someone else in our party, Virginia, who isn’t a hard-core birder, who spotted the bird. Eastern Screech (Megascops asio), the color and pattern of bark (the species also comes in red and brown plumaged versions), basking in the late afternoon sun. We surmised it had been following the sun around the tree during the day.
Not so different from what we were doing.
Wednesday at dusk: Peregrines (Falco peregrinus) on the steeple.Thursday morning, the fifth straight day of seeing Peregrines — either here in Brooklyn or across the East River at 55 Water St. This picture is from two blocks away. Gamaliel King’s steeple is a challenge to shoot between the trees, row houses… And of course the closer you are, the steeper the angle.But what’s that pale blob on lower-middle right?This steeple, with all its nooks and crannies, has never been, as far as I know, a Peregrine nesting site. It is the tallest structure for several blocks ’round, and a regular perching site for Peregrines. There is a local nest, or scrape, in the neighborhood, at the House of Detention, just four blocks away.
However, for this pair, there may be some trouble in paradise.It turns out that in every picture I took, the toes of this bird’s leg are curled up like so. Except for this one, from further away down the street:It’s not as clear here, but it sure looks like the foot is hanging lame, at the joint between tibiotarsus/tarsometatarus(?). Not at all good news for a raptor.
Updated: Ah, good news, perhaps: I’ve heard from a Peregrine professional, who reports “Peregrines will often perch on one leg, with the other raised and foot curled, as several of your photos show. To me, the falcon looks like it’s in a normal resting posture. I’m not sure how long you watched this falcon, but sometimes they’ll hold that position for a while.”