Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

Waterfowl Counting

Four of us braved the element of a cold NNW wind coming off the bay to count waterfowl for an annual NYSOA survey. We were assigned to two segments of the Brooklyn waterfront, Bush Terminal Park and the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier. The latter was quiet; large bays on either side of the pier had rough water; calmer water to the south had a small raft of scaup in it. We did see our only loon of the day there, a Red-throated.Bush Terminal had rather more Black Ducks and Mallards than I would have expected. There were also a couple of handfuls of Buffleheads and smaller numbers of Gadwall (top) and Wigeon (above). Four male Red-breasted Mergansers nipped and chased each other as if they wanted to prove something. One of the many feral cats that infest the waterfront.This one wasn’t on the beach for a tan. I’ve never seen one try to take a duck, but I bet they try.

The Fields of Sweetgum

Just a part of one of the large spreads of fallen Sweetgum balls I’ve ever come across recently.
Not pictured here are the Dark-eyed Juncos that were taking advantage of the windfall. The tiny Liquidambar styraciflua seeds are a big source of winter food for birds.

Sturnus vulgaris

When Pluto was “demoted” as a planet I was taken aback by the reaction. It was like people had lost an invisible childhood friend. But science changes, refines, and, yes, overturns old verities, and this is process is much more interesting to me than a sentimental connection to something learned in childhood.

Contra that guy who claimed that everything he needed to know he learned in kindergarten — what a dullard he must be among grown-ups (admittedly a dwindling portion of the species) — I live to learn new things every day.

For instance, I found this explanation of bird species, speciation, and naming fascinating. Genomics is turning things upside down. Gene expression, which is what actually makes me me and you you (a lot of people don’t seem to get that cloning something leads to a genetic copy but not a flesh and blood duplicate) is, unsurprisingly, something we share with the other animals.

Boots For Scale

I wear a 9/9.5. These are rabbit prints.

There were some other curious prints in the snow on the frozen Bronx River that I could not figure out. No tail, as in a muskrat, and although rather canine-looking, (but too big for fox?) they looked too close together for coyote. Perhaps a cat whose prints, Bigfoot-style, had gotten bigger in the thaw-freeze cycle. I was too far away, unfortunately, to get pictures. Disturbingly, there were also human footprints on the ice.Found right across the street at the entrance to the park.

Raptor Wednesday

Looking northwest-ishly from the View From The Moraine towards Governor’s Island, we see two brick smokestacks rising from the plains of Industry City. They are that massive facility’s power plant’s exhaust funnels. The taller one works: steam (and what else?) rises from it night and day, except sometimes not on weekends. I’ve often wondered if anything in the nature of a bird perches way up there, because as the tallest thing for many blocks, the 360 view from up there must be magisterial. I occasionally scan the towers with my bird-eye. In the middle of December I noticed a blip up there. The tower is about 3/4ths of a mile away, so detail was scant. But damn, that was a familiar upright profile. On War-on-Christmas weekend, the blip had the good graces to stick around. We got closer and closer. Peregrine! Over a four hour span on 12/23, we saw at least one falcon up there almost every time we looked. And sometimes two. They spent a good long time grooming. The bird on the right looks larger (and not just puffed up?), meaning female. If I wasn’t an amateur, I say they had mated. Seems awfully early, though, doesn’t it? Or had they just bathed, in a roof-top puddle somewhere?This is a view of the stacks from the heights of Green-Wood Cemetery, further to the north of the View From the Moraine. I see there’s some suggestion in the news that Industry City is going to tear down its power plant to put in another god-damned ugly (that’s just an educated guess after 25 years of living here) building.

I’ve seen one or two Peregrines up there every day since the beginning of the year except for 1/4 (blizzard) and 1/6. Both were up there yesterday morning.

(This blog is published before sunrise, but as soon as it’s light enough I’ll take a look over there.)

Raptor sightings in Brooklyn this year: 19.

A Return Engagement

The great elm of Sunset Park on a recent wintery day. To track this tree over a year, I photographed it roughly every month from November 2015 to the end of 2016.

Mimus polyglottos

And who hasn’t felt the side-eye of a Northern Mockingbird greedily claiming all the little pears of winter?

Different day, same patch. A different tree this time: those red linden branchlets! Same bird? In this case, it was much colder so there some puffed-up feather action here. Great insulation, feathers. I wore down myself yesterday.


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