Posts Tagged 'Prospect Park'

When Doves Sit

Mourning Doves: one of our earliest local — that is, non-migratory — nesters. Their rudimentary stick nests can be tucked into trees or your windowsill. Here’s another pair on our fire escape recently. One or two has been showing up there or on the roofline a lot lately. (These were photographed though window and screen.)There’s a great view from this fire escape, but it’s awfully exposed for a nest. It’s a good place to throw your coo, though.The eyes are closed while grooming. Safety first!Got to see the familiar cooing up closeThe beak is closed, the throat puffs up, presumably like a resonating chamber. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this before.

Dogs of Prospect, Again

I used to spend so much time in Prospect Park! It’s farther away now, but that’s not the reason I’m there so infrequently now.

Half a dozen Red-winged Blackbirds were burbling with Spring there the other day. A Song Sparrow was singing, tree buds were clearly on the edge of bursting, mosses waved their tiny spore capsules, and was that a Brown Thrasher???Overhead, a Red-shouldered Hawk, an uncommon sight anywhere in the borough. So far, so good, right?

Turns out this was the first time I’d been to Prospect since October. Had to make way for two trucks, two carts, and a police car on the walking paths. Our friend, who had come from Manhattan to ice skate, decided that the hideous pop music blaring from the speakers at the rink was so horrible she would skip the ice entirely. Across the lake from the rink is the Peninsula. We watched as two professional dogwalkers unleashed their packs there. The tragedy of the commons in action. Of course, that historical lesson is usually misinterpreted: elites engineered the destruction of the commons because they enclosed and dispossessed everyone/everything else; it was the first great act of privatization.

So at least ten dogs proceeded to run riot in a woodland area where dogs are always supposed be leashed. These guys probably do this every day. I doubt they’re picking up every last pile of shit their charges deposit in the woods. Remember, it’s called canine distemper. Dogs can be vaccinated against it, but they can also all spread it.

Just the day before, a bird-watcher had seen an unleashed dog kill a squirrel in the Vale. There’s virtually no enforcement of city leash law by NYPD or Parks Enforcement Patrol. Yes, that’s a link to an eight-year-old post, but all that’s changed since is that now there are more dogs and the dog-owners are more entitled.

The Parks Department and the neoliberal Prospect Park Alliance consider dog-owners to be good “stakeholders,” who will advocate for parks, or, let’s be more specific, parks as dog runs. Those who can afford to hire dog walkers are also potential funders. Private money must be catered to and the PPA prioritizes funders. Is this why the leash laws are unenforced? Anyway, this wild west of unleashed dogs sure succeeds in pushing me away from this public park.

Purple Gallinule

An immature Porphyrio martinica, pretty rare for our parts, has spent the weekend in Prospect Park. Essentially a tropical species, Purples are found year-around in Florida, the Carribean islands, and parts of Mexico. The specific epithet tells you as much: this purple waterhen is named after Martinique. They have been known to get as far north as southern Canada.When mature, the back will be green, the head, throat and belly this purple-blue; the beak red, the forehead shield a pale blue that often looks white. The green is starting to come through nicely already, depending on the angle of light.Note the very long toes: this bird walks on water… well, on vegetation in the water, anyway. The bird was foraging actively, close to observers (several to many), and occasionally put on some real speed by dashing for thicker cover, especially when it had something in its mouth. I wasn’t able to determine what those prizes were. They mostly eat plants but will scarf up some invertebrates, too.This is the first one I’ve ever seen. Brooklyn has provided quite a lot of my life birds.

Mammal Monday

This European or Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) was as big as most of the dogs in Göteborg. We were surprised to see it on a backstreet one evening. I think some of the locals were, too. The species has been expanding its range in Sweden.Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).Like our Eastern Greys, which have become invasive in other parts of Europe, these are very active in parks. Eastern Cottontail back on the homefront, in Prospect Park last week.

The One, The Many

In fact, you almost always see Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) in pairs, year-around.A herd of Rock Doves (Columba livia), not quite as denim-y as they looked that day.

Look Out: Ranger Robin is Back!

After an unaccountable absence of several years (!), the incomparable Ranger Robin, the no-holds-barred rogue Park Ranger Action Figure, defrocked (hmm, perhaps that’s the wrong word in this context?), excommunicated, and turned out to pasture by the fools in power, is back! Probably on account of good behavior….

And damn, is she anxious.

What, she wonders, will “community” input mean for the Rose Garden in Prospect Park? This long-abandoned section of the park, best known to birders and the down-low, hasn’t seen any roses since… well, way, way back. And the three oval pools have been dry since Mayor John Lindsey’s day. “That was way before my time, bloggy boy,” says R.R. Anyway, the area is scheduled to be… improved. Uh-oh.

Ranger Robin shares my trepidation about all this, considering that, whatever the “input” is, the money will talk. As it did in the Vale of Cashmere, where a local plutocrat dictated the placement of yet another playground, and the Prospect Park Alliance literally stomped all over the po’ people’s pennies, raised to plant bird-friendly habitat, as they knelt to service his bankroll.

Stay tuned…

Quiscalus quiscula

Another day, another Common Grackle youngster being served up a moth for lunch. Note how the young bird’s plumage lacks the iridescence of the mature bird, and is a drab gray rather than blue-black, except in the tail feathers.

(That’s plastic tarp they’re hanging out on, laid down to smother phragmites.)

This, about a remarkably well-preserved hatchling in amber, is astonishing. 


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