Let me stand in the heart of a beech tree, with great boughs all sinewed and whorled about me, and just for a moment catch a glimpse of primeval time that breathes forgotten within this busy hurrying world.
On Thursday the kids and I went to a bat-watching tour of Prospect Park led by naturalist and bat expert Paul Keim. We met at the Boathouse. The tour was for members of the Prospect Park Zoo volunteer corps (whose director is Keim's wife), but there is also a Twilight Tour on several summer Thursdays which includes not only bat-watching, but a romantic boat ride and wine and cheese for $30 a person.
I've written another article for my Brooklyn Wildlife Examiner column, describing a few common butterflies seen in the city.
The new summer issue of "Outdoors in New York City" is now available from the Department of Parks and Recreation. The seasonal guide lists events and activities with the Urban Park Rangers at parks throughout the city. Activities range from history and culture, to family camping, to canoeing and biking, to free outdoor movies, and more. Check it out!
Something I've been wondering about lately is why I only see some birds in the back yard or in the street, but not both. The distance between our back yard and the front of the house is only about 60 feet. In living here over a year, I've never seen a pigeon in back despite their ubiquity in the city's streets. I've also never seen a song sparrow or white-throated sparrow in the street, although house sparrows are numerous in both places.
I've been putting birdseed out my office window, on the sill and as far as I can toss it out. In the late afternoon Saturday, after the snow, a lot of birds came by. I identified White-Throated, Song, and House Sparrows, Juncos, a Starling, and this Blue Jay and Cardinal:
That's seven species in just one small bit of the city, and doesn't even include pigeons!
No matter how much we try to bulldoze and pave over nature, it has a way of getting back at us. Building your airport in a salt marsh means occasionally having to confront its original inhabitants. It's breeding season for the Diamondback Terrapin, and they're not letting a little thing like a runway hold them back.
It seems one of our former neighbors in Park Slope (where we lived for 10+ years before moving to Kensington last fall) is missing a turtle: "We've been missing the turtle that lives in the pond in our backyard. This morning, we were told it is in one of the other yards here on the block. If you have Tallulah, please let us know and we'll come pick her up."
A few creatures we've seen in 2006:
- huge Polyphemus moth (in our doorway)
- huge bullfrog (Prospect Park bandshell during a heavy rain)
- young raccoon (Prospect Park at 3rd St)