My friend Heather Wolf’s Birding At The Bridge has just been published. This handsome volume detail’s Heather’s adventures watching and photographing birds in Brooklyn Bridge Park over the course of a couple of years.
BBP is where I first ran into Heather. She was carrying her long lens, which is what you really need to get such close-ups of birds. (And these things are the size of half a bazooka, and weigh as much.) And then I ran into her some more. For here was somebody visiting BBP much more than I was when I lived in Cobble Hill. (Well, she lived two blocks closer…)
This is a great example of “patch birding,” visiting the same spot over and over again through the seasons to see the changes, the cyclical arrivals and departures, the unexpected appearances, with discipline and commitment. Winter of course makes it a commitment, but I’ll let you in a secret: being outside in winter is unbelievably invigorating; and one of the wonderful things about the city is that there’s usually some hot chocolate near at hand. Sure, there’s less to see in winter, but there’s always something to see. I hope Heather’s book (which covers all the seasons) inspires more people to get out in nature during winter to look around.
You’ve got to always be worried about color reproduction, a tricky thing in publishing, especially since plumage is so important. Well, the pictures look great here. This is a little gem of a book. And that’s not the hot chocolate talking.
The woodland floor, even in a microscopic sample, is a wonderland. The little bit of wonderland at Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park is currently aflutter with wildflowers, spring’s advance guard, taking advantage of the sun before the trees shade the ground. Some are already abloom, others are readying to bloom, yet others are just emerging from layers of old brown and tan leaves. Hurry up, Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is peaking right now.
Woodland Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) is popping.Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides. The only one we saw.Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), which emerges like an umbrella before unfurling, is coming on. The two-leaved versions are the ones with the flower, and then fruit, at the joint of the stems.And look, a Trillium! But which one?
I saw a pair of Pigeons, but my companion saw something else in their general vicinity. We were down below the rise of the Heights in Brooklyn Bridge Park, looking up to where the swells live. The hawk was perched on the top balcony, facing in, but with that wonderfully flexible neck glance backwards and sideways and all around the town, as well as the harbor. Was anybody home in that apartment? What a view they would have had! An adult Accipiter. But was it cooperii or striatus? I had a tough time with this bird. The Accipters are one of the harder bird identification problems. Seemed like a straight-edged tail with relatively thin white terminal band on it (Sharpie). But the head sure looked darker than the back (Coop), at least in most of my pictures. The bird made a quick sortie out over the park and back into the trees beside this building, its tail looking very straight-edged. A single bold Starling gave it the what-for.
I called it, tentatively, as a female Sharpie. But let me be the first to admit that identifying the species is not the be-all and end-all of the experience.
UPDATED: Readers beg to differ. See comments below.