Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn Bridge Park'


Yesterday, in Brooklyn Bridge Park:Mergus serratorA lone female Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator).Mergus serratorAs a Man of Hair, I do appreciate the random crest feathers.Podiceps grisegenaUnexpectedly, a Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena). I last ran into one in February. The red of the neck, breeding plumage, looks like it is just starting to come in. The bird was spending more time underwater than afloat.Larus delawarensisNote the rather startling red-orange mouth of this Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis), cleaning up after a human’s mess. The gull’s thick neck is a handy storage system for gulped food; the other half of the baguette’s already in there. Anas platyrhynchosFemale Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) hunkered down, but definitely alert to my presence. Male nearby. Nesting soon? This spot’s probably too exposed, but the species does nest in the park. Zonotrichia albicollisA White-thoated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) kicking up lunch.Salix discolorAnd blooms! Pussy Willow (Salix discolor), that early bud that…gets the worm of spring.

Snow Day

The other day, the news was this was, so far, the 9th snowiest winter in NYC. (We’re number nine, we’re number nine!) I have to admit most of it has fallen while I’ve been inside. But yesterday I took a walk thinking I would avoid the snow and ended up walking amidst it. Except for a few flakes shooting up my capacious nostrils, it was a damn good walk. There was a wonderful depth to the air with the big flakes falling. New Jersey disappeared, Manhattan was shrouded, Governor’s Island just a faint silhouette. Anas streperaA male Gadwall (Anas strepera), above, and a male Black Duck (Anas rubripes), below, preened in the snowfall. The feathers of both reward close study.Anas rubripesOne knee-high pile of older snow, plowed into a corner, was quite fissured. From within these fissures there gleamed these delicious hints of blue. I stood staring into that color for the longest time, until my black jeans and black coat were splattered with flakes like paint. (Almost everyone else in the park with me was running; no sense in hurrying to that finishing line, I aways say.)vividMy camera’s “vivid” feature is turned on here to try to capture this color, and manages to “read” the whole pile in a blue shift.

Glaciers — hark ye, children, when you’re old there will be few if any around — are made of ice compacted from snow. This is dense stuff, not like an especially large ice cube. The other colors of the spectrum are absorbed by this kind of ice. Only blue… escapes. Now, this little insignificant pile was obviously no glacier, yet it still gleamed with the beginning of that startling color. Here’s a bit of that blue, on an overcast day, in Jökulsárlón, Iceland.glacial-iceNo filtering here, btw.

Flaubert wrote, Steegmuller translated, “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” I feel the same about describing and/or capturing color. Turdus migratoriusI’ll call this American Robin (Turdus migratorius) burnt orange, but that’s not nearly enough.

The world is far from monochrome on a snowy day. Note the bill, stained with Sumac.


Junco hyemalisIt hasn’t been a big year for Slate-colored Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis), a generally common winter visitor. This was the only one around the other day and I haven’t seen many this winter. They are are usually found close to the ground in small flocks, so this view gives a good sense of the very contrasting dark top and light underside, which is the color of snow. The white feathers in the tail flash when they fly, making the small, plain birds easy to pick out in the distance. Hard to see here: the pinkish bill. One of the New World Sparrows, Juncos are broken up into five subspecies in North America; the Slate-colored is the only one found in the East.

Same Sumac, Another Bird

Sturnus vulgaris“O my Starling, O my Starling….” Note the yellowing bill, a breeding sign for Sturnus vulgaris. Spring is in the air. Sturnus vulgarisAnother Starling, a week later, in the glow of a setting Sun.

Mallard on Ice

Anas platyrhynchosA female Anas platyrhynchos. Underrated in comparison to the peacock-like male of the species.Anas platyrhynchos


Zonotrichia albicollisOne of those indefatigable winter warriors, a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), in the life-giving Sumac. This is one of the easiest birds to identify by voice, since its call, transcribed as “Oh-sweet-Canada Canada Canada” or “Old-Sam-Peabody Peabody Peabody” (I have duel allegiances) is distinctive and frequent. These birds will head to Canada to breed, their absence a sure sign of winter’s end. But in the meantime, it’s the search for food amidst the snow. The small flock I watched looked like they were using their chests to clear little indentations in the snow. In leaves, they’ll use their feet to scritch-scratch away cover. This species is usually found on the ground, but in this case a passing pedestrian flushed them into the Sumac, where they immediately began to beak-in.

Ring-billed Gull

Larus delawarensisLast year, I posted a picture of a Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) on a lamp between Pier 5 & 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. This year, with a better-lensed camera, I offer another shot of a Ring-billed on the fence in the same area. Could it be the same bird? It’s very tolerant of people, indeed, it has clearly become dependent on our food-spilling and wasting ways. Recently it was shadowing some picnickers (yes, picnicking in January).gullsRing-billed Gulls are the most common over the city (a friend calls them “Ghetto Gulls”). As sunset approaches, the air above the harbor becomes quite active with them, flying, swooping, crying out. It’s a fine spectacle. They make me want to ride the wind. They are preparing to settle in for the night. gulls2One nighttime roosting spot is the end of Pier 6. There was at least one Herring Gull, a rather larger bird, in this crowd of Ring-bills.

Bills III

Mniotilta varia The Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia) has a very slender bill for foraging for invertebrates amidst the bark and knots of tree.Mniotilta variaThe bird’s hind toes/claws are unusually long, too, for getting a grip on vertical trunks. This one, a female, had just bathed and was grooming. This is not a shy species: I watched her forage for several minutes from very close by, binoculars unnecessary. After devouring something, she swiped her both sides of her bill on a twig to clean it. Insects can be gooey, after all.


iceYesterday, as the temperature rose up to the freezing point, the bays between the piers at Brooklyn Bridge Park were filled with undulating pancake ice. Anas platyrhynchosThese Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were putting their succulent layer of fat to good use.iceflowersAnd, Dear Reader, a mystery. The gentleman cleaning the area said a woman had been sitting for a while with a bouquet. They don’t seem like memorial roses, do they, the kind you’d toss into the sea in remembrance? But then does anybody know the language of roses anymore? (Deep purple for Goth girls, I know that much.)ice2Meanwhile, the bay between Piers 1 and 2 had very little ice in it and was calm, until a wake rippled waves through, the water rolling like silk. Bucephala albeolaA male Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) was using the open water freely. The ice zooming up the East River with the tidal current.

Sumac Robin

Turdus migratorius10* yesterday. This is one of four American Robins who were scouring the Sumac berries. Not all Robins head south for the winter. These could also be birds from further north, this their south. Wintering Robins tend to flock and change their dietary habits, since there are few earthworms to be had now.


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