Posts Tagged 'Gowanus'

Eyas of the Gowanus

rthA correspondent let me know that there was a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) nest on a fire-escape in Gowanus. I headed over as soon as I could. Buteo jamaicensisWhen I lived in Cobble Hill, I often crossed the Valley of the Shadow of the Gowanus by foot and sometimes saw RTH soaring overhead or on top of St. Agnes, the tallest building around. Soon as I turned the corner, those silhouette in the morning sun proclaimed the scene. Buteo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisIt looks like there is one youngster on the nest, an “eyas” in the old lexicon of falconry, still shy of fledging. Buteo jamaicensisI found out later that several other birders were already aware of this nest. It seems hard to miss by anyone walking by, but of course even a photographer shooting image after image at something up there fails to entice the curiosity of most passersby. Buteo jamaicensisIt looks like the birds made three attempts at a nest on two different fire-escapes, two on one, one on the other. The middle nest was the one completed and used. A fellow Twitterer said he had just spotted a RTH nest on a Bed-Stuy fire-escape. Buteo jamaicensisThis is four stories up from the hard sidewalk and the busy street: let’s wish this eyas luck on his or her first flight/controlled-to-some-extent fall…


Harmonia axyridis
1. It’s hard to focus an iPhone in the wind with one hand.
2. Looks like I need a manicure. Although I’ve have never had one, so I probably won’t ever get one.
3. Never believe anybody when they say the city is a sterile wasteland with nothing but pigeons and a surplus of rats. Just down the block from a Kestrel nest in the valley of the industrial-wasteland bordering the Superfund site of the Gowanus, I find a Multicolored Asian Lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) on something growing out of the crack between sidewalk and building.

Raptor Wednesday

Buteo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisSt. Agnes towers over the northern end the Gowanus. There must be a grand view from up there. This is a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) ~ but you knew that.


GowanusSome fifty Mallards were hanging out on the Superfund canal last weekend. Prospect Park’s Lake was mostly frozen, but this tidal, briny, self-heating (?) water remained open to waterfowl.

It was a rather active morning: I heard American Crows in the distance and shrieking Blue Jays closer, which made me wonder if there was a raptor about. The Red-tailed Hawk I posted about Wednesday floated by, so that may have explained that (there was a Red-tailed on the very top of St. Agnes yesterday afternoon, too). While I was on the Union St. Bridge, which is where the picture above was taken, the sky filled with Ring-billed Gulls, who roost on the flat roofs in the area. A single Crow flew amongst them and then proceeded to make three swooping dives over the trees on the left middle ground. Usually Crows work in family units, but this one had no back-up and was silent. I’m not sure what it was harassing; a smaller bird did move in the trees on the third pass, but I was too far way to make it out. It may have been a small falcon or hawk. Can’t think what else a Crow would bother with, besides owls, which are unlikely here, and feral cats. foamThe canal’s foaming mire, corralled by the boom, looks grim-ugly; the ducks were floating through it.

Borough of Raptors

Buteo jamaicensisTwo Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) drifted overhead of me as I crossed the Terrace Bridge on Saturday, coming from somewhere in the direction of the parking lot now befouling the top of Breeze Hill. One landed, the other floated off towards Lookout Hill. This photographed bird shook its tail feathers quite a bit, which made me think it was the female, post-coitally making some adjustments. Falco columbariusAs I bisected the Nethermead, I noticed a tell-tale light spot up in a tree. This developed into a Merlin (Falco columbarius). Raptors usually have whiter bellies than backs, and on bare winter branches these stick out like beacons to the hawk-eyed. This was the second weekend in a row I’ve spotted a Merlin in Prospect. This bird dropped from its perch in a suddenly plunge and shot towards Quaker Hill with incredible speed, such a difference from the slow flapping and circling flight of the Red-tails.Buteo jamaicensisOn Sunday, as I was nearing the Union St. bridge over the Gowanus Canal, I saw this Red-tail fly by. It landed on the Gothick pile of St. Agnes, where it was still perched about an hour later as I made my way back through the Valley of the Shadow of the Gowanus.Buteo jamaicensisI’ve said it before: the “red” of the adult Red-tailed’s red tail is really more of a russet or brick color.


foam1Sea foam lapping along a bayside. This froth is created the agitation of dissolved salts, proteins, fats, dead algae, and other organic matter churning around in every ounce of sea water.foam2Here it’s along a sheltered bay, which is probably full of organic (and, sadly, non-organic) run-off from the land and not subject to annihilating wave action by the direct ocean.gowanusfoamAnd then there’s this, the foaming Gowanus. I don’t think I want to know what this is made of… and being sucked out into the bay by the tide.

Ἀφροδίτη: Aphrodite’s name comes from the word for “foam,” for she was, according to Hesiod, foam-born, from the gore caused by the flung genitals of Ouranos (Uranus, the sky), who was castrated by his son Kronos. Botticelli that! Kronos, the old charmer, would in turn eat his own children, except for Zeus, who was spirited away as a baby. Zeus would later lead his vomited-up siblings in revolt against Cronus and the other Titans, casting the giants into Tantalus. Oy, those Greeks! I bet you never saw any of this in a Disney cartoon.


IMG_5193Gasping at the surface near the pier, this fish was in trouble. Or so I thought. But it seemed to successfully dive back into the deeps, so it might have been feeding at something I couldn’t see on the surface. About 14″ long: what is it? IMG_5235And here, soon after low tide way up the Gowanus, a school of much smaller killifish, perhaps Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus).

Brooklyn Update

PrunusWhen my plane descended into LaGuardia last Monday, there were a lot of gray/brown still-wintering trees in evidence. I’d just come from southern-most Texas, where spring was fully in motion, but things are stirring here, too.Polygonia interrogationisQuestion Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) amid the weeping cherries, which were throbbing with honeybees, and an occasional bumble.Bellamya chinensisThe nacreous heart of a Chinese Mystery/Trapdoor Snail (Bellamya chinensis). Who doesn’t like saying “nacreous heart”?Mergus serratorI don’t think I’ve ever seen a Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) out of the water. Note those large feet, set rather far back, and good for diving. Quiscalus quisculaTotally fell for the Great-tailed Grackles down south, but the Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) still has a place in my heart. Falco peregrinusYou may know that I live between two Peregrine falcon scrapes. (Geography is relative.) There is something going on in the 55 Water Street location, either a youngster already or an adult moving. And there this one — note the band/ring — is perched on the construction site across the street from the House of D. Keeping an eye on the home front amid the grooming.Gownus CanalThe Superfund Gowanus Canal. Habitat.Megaceryle alcyonA male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was fishing in that industrial toilet, diving for the little fish that come in with the tide. Prunus

Gowanus Dragon

gowanusThe anti-freeze color of the water is just about right here.

A Terrible Beauty

tbSomething oily on the Gowanus this way comes.


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